First published in the April 28 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Comedy has the ability to do more than make people laugh — it can change lives.
La Cañada Flintridge residents Carter Bays, co-creator of “How I Met Your Mother,” and his wife, Denise, can affirm this to be true, especially for those in the military community.
The couple recently hosted a fundraiser at their home, benefitting the mission of the Armed Services Arts Partnership, or ASAP, in fostering creative communities, where veterans, service members, military family members and caregivers can flourish through the arts.
Bays first became acquainted with ASAP in 2016. After participating in a workshop with the group, he was hooked. He even served on ASAP’s board for three years.
“Giving back to veterans is important to me. It’s something my first TV boss, David Letterman, used to prioritize, and it rubbed off on me,” Bays said. “Plus, I’m from a military family. These men and women gave so much, fighting two wars in the last two decades. We all owe them a debt. When ASAP came into my life, it gave me a chance to live up to that obligation by using my skills as a comedy writer to help veterans. It was a perfect fit.”
The event, which raised $21,000 for the organization, featured performances by military veteran comedians including Meg Kraus and Michael Carrasquillo, who were in the Army, PT Bratton, who was in the Air Force, and Caroline Walsh, who was in the Coast Guard.
“I’m blown away by the impact this community has on veterans and military families,” Bays said. “I’ve had the chance to meet some brilliant artists who’ve used their craft to process trauma, build friendships and launch new careers — like Army veteran and triple amputee Adam Keys, who first learned comedy from ASAP and now tours nationally as a comedian and speaker. … By teaching comedy and other artistic skills, ASAP creates a space where veterans thrive after their military service.”
ASAP, the largest community arts organization serving the military community in the United States, found its participants experience significant, lasting improvements in resilience, belonging, self-esteem and integration of self.
The immersive classes offered by ASAP are free and include stand-up comedy, storytelling, improv, creative writing, acting and drawing.
The group has reached 1,700 veterans in seven years, with alumni who have performed for more than 150,000 audience members. Some of their shows have been at venues such as the Warner Theater and Gotham Comedy Club and even at the White House when Barack Obama was president.
ASAP chapters are currently located in Washington, D.C.; Hampton Roads, Virginia; San Diego, California; and Indianapolis, Indiana — and are expanding nationally.
To learn more or to donate to ASAP, visit asapasap.org/donate/.