The warriors of comedy

Documentary hopes to prove laughter heals all wounds

Filmmakers John Wager and Ray Reo discuss their new film about the importance of comedy in healing.

Filmmakers John Wager and Ray Reo discuss their new film about the importance of comedy in healing. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— So far, comedians Bob Saget, Zach Galifianakis, Brad Garret, Lewis Black and Kathleen Madigan have agreed to be mentors for the project.

“We are committed to making a film of award-winning caliber and impact,” said Wager.

Reo and Wager thought of the idea over lunch last year in Saratoga Springs.

Wager was already involved with filming special pieces for the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit that assists in the care of wounded veterans. As a talent manager for comedians for the past 15 years, Reo had connections with comedic actors and writers. The two decided to put their expertise together to create a film about humor, healing and hope.

“I guess the overall feeling of the lunch was, what can we do to honor these veterans?” said Wager. “In some small way give back and at the same time, create greater awareness of what they have gone through on our behalf.”

Besides Henline, 1st Sgt. Rob Jones of the Marines and Sgt. Joe Kashnow, 1st Lt. Stephen Rice and 1st Sgt. Darisse Smith of the Army, were all chosen to participate through the help of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Executive Director Al Giordano said the organization was honored to help with the film and pair those injured in the line of duty with the filmmakers.

“I have learned that healing is an incredibly personal process and for some, being able to express their traumatic experiences through humor can create breakthroughs in their recovery,” he said.

Those who wanted to participate were asked to put together a short video that showcased their sense of humor and send it to Reo. Out of nearly 40 submissions, five were chosen.

“We probably could have chose 10 but we felt that five would be a good number to work with as far as being mentored,” said Reo.

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