FORT LEE, Va. (December 15, 2011)-Drawing the audience in with humor, comedian Bernie McGrenahan was able to impart a powerful message to the Fort Lee community during the installation's annual Safety Show Dec. 6-7.
McGrenahan's "Happy Hour" performance, a brief that mixes comedy with a message about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and suicide, was a good choice for the annual show, said Jimmie Faye Lundie, CASCOM Safety director.
"This training is designed to gain the attention and respect of his audience before he delves into his own step-by-step downward spiral involving high-risk drinking and drug abuse," said Lundie. "His brief specifically emphasizes the path that led to the alcohol and drug-related suicide of his younger brother, his own three DUI arrests, and a six-month jail sentence."
McGrenahan started his performance off by asking how many people had to be at the brief and received an enthusiastic response. For the first 30 minutes, the comedian joked about a wide range of subjects from military life to current celebrities, while mixing in a few safety tips about avoiding credit card debt and saying no to drugs.
"Don't smoke pot, man, it'll be the end of your career," he said.
"I know I was smoking too much. I was home one night - trying to make popcorn ... on the car," he joked.
Cracking jokes about drinking too much led McGrenahan into his speech about his own personal experiences with alcohol.
"You know you have a drinking problem when you're in college and your blood alcohol level is higher than your grade point average," he said. "I can tell you when you are definitely drinking too much - when your alarm clock is only a suggestion."
Talking about his own issues with alcohol, McGrenahan told the audience about his introduction to drinking while in his teens and about the mistakes he and his friends made.
"Do you know what we didn't talk about - before we went to that bar - about who's not drinking tonight?" he said. "Who was driving us home? We would figure that out later - later is a bad time to figure out how you are getting home."
McGrenahan said he made mistakes throughout his early adulthood which led to three DUIs and six months in jail He also introduced his younger brother to drinking. Since his third DUI and subsequent jail time, he said he hasn't drunk a drop.
"I don't know what it's like to be in the military with all the additional stresses from that, but I do know alcohol, drugs and risks," he said. "Don't ever think of hurting yourselves if the Army gets too stressful. Talk to your leadership and step up and say you need help."