My review & pictures of “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor” World Premiere at 2013 Palm Beach International Film Festival

On Friday, April 5, 2013 I attended the gala World Premiere of Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor at the Palm Beach International Film Festival in Palm Beach County, Florida. The screening was held at the Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille in Delray Beach. The film was a selection in the Documentary Feature Competition.

Wounded war veterans and laughter don't often go hand in hand, but that's exactly what Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor sets out to disprove. With award-winning director/producer John Wager at the helm, five Iraq and Afghanistan War vets -- Bobby Henline, Rob Jones, Darisse Smith, Steve Rice, and Joe Kashnow -- team up with a group of professional comedians as mentors with the lofty goal of an appearance onstage at L.A.'s legendary Laugh Factory. The professional coaches include comedy icons Lewis Black, Zach Galifianakis, B.J. Novak, Bob Saget, Mark Brazill, Bob Nickman, and Kevin Rooney.

These are our country's finest, those who've served admirably and returned home disfigured, with missing limbs, and horrific stories of roadside bombs and buddies lost in battle. Yet they immediately disarm the audience (pun intended, which, no doubt, they'd be the first to laugh at) by poking fun at themselves and calling attention to the obvious. The jokes might be offensive coming from anyone else but when these brave combatants do it, the reality dawns on the viewer that "healing through humor" is targeted at both the performer as well as the audience.

This film works, and succeeds, on so many levels -- as pure entertainment, as a documentation of an odyssey these heroes embark on with courage and wit, and as a moral statement on how we approach life when our plans are shattered (to say the least) and we face an uncertain future. There are so many lessons here, and to say this is an "important" documentary is a woeful understatement. What these men and women did is life-changing for themselves and, perhaps, for the audience as well.

Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor was co-produced by Ray Reo and director John Wager. Bernadette Luckett served as co-producer.

I gave Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor five stars and a place on my 2013 Palm Beach International Film Festival Top 4 Documentaries.

Walking the Red Carpet at the Opening Night Screening of Decoding Annie Parker were director/producer John Wager, producer Ray Reo, and co-producer/coach Bernadette Luckett, along with Warriors Bobby Henline and Joe Kashnow. The festivities took place at Muvico Parisian at CityPlace in West Palm Beach on Thursday, April 4.

Following the World Premiere screening on Friday, April 5 at the Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille in Delray Beach, John Wager, Ray Reo, Bernadette Luckett, Bobby Henline, and Joe Kashnow returned with Warriors Darisse Smith and Steve Rice for a poignant but entertaining Q&A session.

On Saturday night, April 6, the Silver Screen Splash Party took place at Deck 84 in Delray Beach. The Comedy Warriors were honored as special guests with the Palm Beach International Film Festival Golden Palm Award, presented by President Randi Emerman. Accepting the award were John Wager, Ray Reo, Bernadette Luckett, Bobby Henline, Joe Kashnow, and Steve Rice along with Warrior Rob Jones.

The festival's closing night and awards ceremony took place on Thursday, April 11 at Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille in Delray Beach. Producer Ray Reo walked the Red Carpet and then received one of the festival's top honors from Palm Beach International Film Festival President Randi Emerman, the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Here are some pictures I shot of the Comedy Warriors and team at the Opening Night Red Carpet, World Premiere Q&A, Silver Screen Splash Party and Awards, and Closing Night Red Carpet & Awards Ceremony:


WORLD PREMIERE Q&A (25 photos on 2 pages)



ENTIRE COLLECTION (100 photos in 4 sets)



Twitter @comedywarriors

Comedy Warriors Healing Though Humor from Comedy Warriors on Vimeo.


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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