Sunday, June 14, 2009

How do you get to Colbert's writers' room? Just get deployed to Iraq!

Here's a quick round-up of what I've been up to this week:

The Lowell Sun has a nice mention of me in the Sunday Column:

STAND-UP COMIC and Army Sgt. 1st Class Benari Poulten rubbed elbows recently in Baghdad with political satirist and Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert.

"He was in Iraq for a few days for a USO tour, and I managed to end up in his makeshift writers room during part of the visit," Poulten e-mailed The Sun from Iraq. "Just think, I had been in NYC for 5 years, and I had to go all the way to Baghdad to end up in Colbert's writers room."

Colbert's visit has been widely reported, because he declared the war in Iraq officially over and had his head shaved, Army-style, after a videotaped order from President Barack Obama.

Poulten, who grew up in Chelmsford, is part of a multinational force in Baghdad specializing in civil and public affairs as a liaison to the Iraqi media.

Before being deployed in January, Benari was in New York, where he most recently worked in a comedy club show with Liz Winstead, a co-creator of The Daily Show, where Colbert got his start.

Benari has also rubbed elbows with Lowellian Mehmed Ali, an arts/culture liaison with the Iraqi government.

"They're on different sides of Baghdad, but have seen each other when Benari goes to the American Embassy," said Sam Poulten, Benari's father.

When he returns, "hopefully by Christmas," Benari will likely return to New York to resume his comedy writing and stand-up career.

He hopes his backstage brush with Colbert, who taped four episodes of his show there, opens doors.

"He's a terrific guy and the shows were hilarious -- and he was nice enough to take a pic backstage," Benari e-mailed.

Don't know how many doors it'll open up, but it was pretty cool. Colbert and his entire staff were fantastic and could not have been nicer to me. And since one of Colbert's goals was to bring more attention to the troops still here in Iraq, I'd say "Mission ccomplished." There's nothing politically volatile about that phrase, right?

My old boss and good pal Pat Cook is also mentioned in Column for his dry wit and humor. And what's this? Why, yes, he also had a thing or two to say about my brush with fame.

And of course, NYC buddy and comedy aficionado Sean McCarthy had a nice mention of me over on his blog, The Comic's Comic, one of the best resources of comedy insight on the world wide web.

I'll follow up soon with some more behind the scenes tales from the front lines of Baghdad.