There is a quote from legendary comedian Bob Hope that goes “I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”
Many of us can remember a time when a joke or a little laughter lifted us out of a dark moment and brought us back to our humanity. For Sam Pressler, it was during high school when he lost a close family member to suicide.
“My family and I used comedy, laughter, and humor to cope, overcome, and even grow following this trauma,” said Pressler.
It was that experience that helped shaped Pressler’s journey and purpose. While studying at the College of William and Mary in 2014, he learned about some of the challenges that veterans and their families face. He believed that comedy could help, and he wasn’t joking around. At just 22 years old, Pressler decided to start stand-up comedy classes for veterans and their families.
What started out as a college student’s passion quickly grew into a new nonprofit called the Armed Services Arts Partnership, or ASAP. Through a range of art classes – from writing to comedy to improv – ASAP encourages veterans to express themselves, learn new skills, and build lasting relationships through learning, performance, and consistent alumni opportunities.
Connecting veterans into the arts community is starting to gain local and national attention. WHRO Public Media is featuring ASAP’s efforts with an original documentary that follows veterans through “Comedy Bootcamp.” And just last month, ASAP’s Comedy Bootcamp alumni put on the first-ever Veterans Comedy Show in one of the world’s most prestigious homes – the White House.
Now there’s an opportunity for you to enjoy an authentic ASAP comedy show here in Hampton Roads and right before Veterans Day. Global Shapers Norfolk, a millennial leadership group, is hosting a fundraiser for the Armed Services Arts Partnership on November 10 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM at the Town Point Club in Norfolk. The event will feature local veterans Isaura Ramirez and Jim King performing standup comedy, followed by a panel discussion on veterans, comedy, and society.
“Global Shapers Norfolk’s #WeAre757Millennials report showed local millennials have a strong appreciation for our military community and support investment in the arts,” said Global Shapers Norfolk Curator Claire Wulf Winiarek. “ASAP combines these passions by supporting veterans and military families through art classes and performances. Global Shapers Norfolk is proud to support such an innovative, creative organization helping our veterans and their families successfully transition back to our community.”
We hope you’ll join us this Thursday at The Town Point Club for an original ASAP comedy show plus awesome happy hour specials: appetizers and beverages for $1, $3, and $5. The night is open to the public, and the attire is business casual. You’ll have an opportunity to learn more about engaging our veteran community in the arts, and at the very least… a little laughter to help feed your soul.