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An Interview with Jewish Marine Comedian Dave Rosner

Marine Comedian Dave Rosner (DR) is an observant Jew who has performed comedy in clubs and synagogues in the United States, Australia, Canada, Kuwait, and Iraq. DR began in the entertainment industry at the age of eight, is known as the only Jewish Marine Comedian. He is member of the Friars Club who produced the Friars Club show "Tell it to the Marines." He hosted and produced "The Dave Rosner Comedy Rooms" in New York. He was recently on stand-up comedy tour with "Comics Ready to Entertain," in Iraq and Kuwait. I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Dave Rosner at the Friars Club in New York, on Friday, June 26, 2009.

ME: What inspired you to become a standup comedian?

DR: At a young age, I learned the power of humor could change situations. If you could get someone to crack a smile or a laugh, it completely changes the tone of what's going on. I remember at five years old, making a wise remark about something that made my family laugh, from then on I continued.

ME: Did you have any role models that you looked up to as a comedian?

DR: As a child, my comedian fans were Rich Little, Richard Pryor, Don Rickles, the Unknown Comic, and Jerry Lewis. Johnny Carson and Steve Martin had a big influence on me. I saw Rich Little and the Unknown Comic perform in Las Vegas and Steve Martin perform in Albuquerque. I also attended a party and met Bob Hope in person.

ME: How do you come up with comical acts?

DR: As a new comedian I had difficulty in coming up with new jokes and a very successful comedian friend said to me "Write down the ten worst things that has happen to you in your life." So I wrote ten things. Then he said, "Now there's your act! Just build jokes from those ten things." My friend was right. My act mainly comes from observations of things and having the ability to put different worlds together. The two worlds colliding together for me is being Jewish and a Marine. Take the two subcultures Jewish and Marine and put them together then find humor in it.

ME: Where were you born and raised?

DR: I was born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ME: Where and what did you studied?

DR: I'm a graduate with a major in University Study from the University of New Mexico. I have a minor in economics, film history, psychology, recreation, health, and political science. Prior to college, I attended The New Mexico Military Institute boarding high school.

ME: Were you raised with a spiritual up bringing?

DR: Not really, only self-induced. At a young age, I attended Sunday school and a year later, Hebrew school. There was always something in me that was driving me that I didn't quite understand.

Later in life, I came across a quote from Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi also known as the "Alter Rebbe" that gave me an understanding. The quote is "Song is the pen of the heart, melody is the pen of the soul." During my college years, on Friday night I attended service at the synagogue despite being a fraternity member and going to countless frat parties. Attending service did something to me that I couldn't really explain. I learned more about Judaism after spending a year and a half in Jerusalem, Israel.

ME: Were you cast in film and/or television?

DR: In Sydney, Australia, I starred as an intensive care paramedic in a nighttime TV drama "All Saints," and in a sketch comedy "The Procrastinator." In New York, a
promo for MTV Movie Awards. I've done TV commercials in Australia, England, Italy and in New York.

ME: At what point in your life you decided comedy and film was something you wanted to do?

DR: I decided I wanted to study film in California while attending the University of New Mexico. My artistic talent was pushed to the side due to conventional influences. Years later, I officially began doing standup comedy, at night while serving active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, in Honolulu, Hawaii. I performed in Iraq, with comedian friend Scott Kennedy who is honored at the 2009 New York City Marines Mess Night Benefit. Scott and I met in summer camp and became involved in entertainment when we were eight years old. Both of us attended the same military boarding high school.

ME: What inspired you to join the U.S. Marine Corps?

DR: Being Jewish, I've wanted to serve my country, The United States of America, and I wanted the personal challenge.

ME: How many years did you serve and what is your rank?

DR: I served in the U.S. Marine Corps 21 years. In active duty, I served 4 ½ years and in the reserve, 16 years. My current rank is
Lieutenant Colonel.

ME: Tell me about the Second Annual 2009 New York City Marines Mess Night Benefit.

DR: The New York City Marines Mess Night Benefit gives the public an opportunity to experience a military mess night, a recreation of a six-course meal from the Scottish Military in 1921. There's a lot of jocularity. It is a formal evening (black tie and military uniform). As a member of the Marines Corps Reserve and in the entertainment industry, I assist in the promotion of the benefit.

This year, the benefit offering a first time "Glatt Kosher" meal went to two organizations, The National Foundation for Facial Reconstruction and the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. The honorees included my friend a comedian for 18 years Scott Kennedy. Scott has performed in Iraq 30 times, in Afghanistan, 7 times, and the Middle East as well. Every month, Scott brings two comedians with him and at the end of every show, he greets and sign autographs of at least 1,000 service men.

2009 NYC Marines Mess Night Benefit, Dave Rosner. Photo by Erik Aguliar.

ME: What is your affiliation with The Friars Club in New York?

DR: The building was erected in 1847. The Friars Club founded in 1904, is a show business club mostly comedians and dignitaries. The
club is well known for the Friars Roast! I became a member in October 2006.
Prior to becoming a member, I produced at the Friars club show "Tell it to The Marines." As a member comedian, I performed at the club several times and done shows for the club at the Manhattan and Brooklyn Veteran's Hospitals. The Friars Club is very philanthropic especially towards the military with its "Gift Of Laughter"
shows for Wounded Warriors.

ME: Any advice for upcoming comedians out there?

DR: My advice for upcoming comedians is to find employment
that is advantageous for you to do comedy as much as possible.

ME: What goals have you yet to accomplish?

DR: As a standup comedian, I have yet to accomplish the
appearance of certain shows, theatres, and rooms. I have yet to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards. In 2009, my upcoming shows are Chabad of Brisbane in Brisbane Australia, Monday, July 27, 7:00 pm; Medowbrooke Women's Initiative, Levittown Library, in Levittown, NY, Wednesday December 23, 1:00 pm.
By Maria Esteves - July 24, 2009

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