Bringing the Laughs: U.S. Army Veteran and Hunter Finds Joy through Comedy

Bringing the Laughs: U.S. Army Veteran and Hunter Finds Joy through Comedy

As a lifelong hunter, I didn’t think you could find anything else as exciting. That was until standup comedy became a part of my life. Comedy is a melting pot of broken ideas linguistically spewed by people navigating through life trying to make sense of the world around them. The creative energy, the connections and the addiction derived from laughter remind me of similar adrenaline bursts from successful days afield. However, the calling to stage is more profound for some individuals. While my wife and I were traveling the country for her healthcare job, we found a connection with a local open mic in Woodbridge, Va. The mic is organized and hosted by touring comic, Army veteran and avid hunter Dewayne White.

There's a story, I thought.

Dewayne White (no relation to comedian Ron White) spent his formative years between southern Illinois and Dallas. He shared how being a touring comedian was his deeply seeded dream from a young age. With people who become comedians, there are sometimes early indications of a draw to performing. In second grade, his teacher made him stand in front of the room for five minutes for disrupting the class. White continued the tomfoolery, making the kids laugh. At home, he recalled the comedy specials his parents owned on VHS of the greats such as Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams and a young Bill Cosby. These comedy specials encouraged the desire to perform.

“I was a theater kid in school,” said White. “I figured if this is what I wanted to do, I needed to get comfortable on stage in front of people.” White said he never had lead roles but worked in support roles. “In 1992, our group in Dallas was the state champions in the One Act Play competition,” he said. “I was the light guy.”

So, for someone who enjoyed performing, how did that parlay itself into a military career?

Over lunch with me at a local restaurant, White outlined his 23-year career in the military. “The National Guard recruiter called me three different times,” he shared. “Finally, I decided to meet with him, and it made sense as a path forward to pay for school. However, I joined the Army as it made more sense than the guard.”

Dwayne White in Army uniform

White is a well-traveled individual who has worked all over the world. He is uniquely trained and specialized as a linguist, learning Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. “It’s funny that I went into language because I wasn’t great at Spanish in high school, but in the military, it just clicked.”

He recalled a few stories from the far corners of the world, which made me laugh. White spent ample time in places like Russia and Ukraine in the 1990s. He described Kazakhstan as one of his favorite countries for its rugged beauty and unique local culture. White served with Special Forces groups for over a decade and completed Ranger school. He also served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and survived a harrowing encounter.

White told me he didn't grow up hunting except for the occasional small game and bird hunt in Texas. His first introduction to big game hunting was through a wounded veterans program in the early 2000s. “I was taken on a hunt at the Shiner Ranch through the veterans organization Show of Support.,” he said. “I had never shot a deer before and had a fantastic weekend hunting their management deer. I was hooked on hunting from that trip forward.”

Dwayne White with a trophy whitetail buck

White's interest and passion for hunting accelerated in the latter years of his military service. White began teaching linguistics classes at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for three years. “The hunting opportunities at West Point were incredible,” he recounted. “West Point is overlooked as a hunting opportunity, and I had some amazing experiences in that area of the Hudson Valley for whitetails.”

I asked White what hunting meant to him. He said, “Before I started comedy, I had more time to hunt. I used hunting to feel connected to others and especially my son.” White's son, Logan, gravitated to hunting just as much and maybe more than his dad and became a wildlife biologist who works with Pheasants Forever.

“I'll never forget his first deer,” said White. “It was just a button buck, but it was one of the most special moments of my life.” White says living in Northern Virginia, while not a hotbed of massive deer compared to other places in the country, provides a target-rich environment for deer and turkey.

White also has a passion and skill for teaching. He is looked up to by many in the Washington, D.C., comedy community. White not only has taught linguistics at West Point but has served as a hunter education instructor in Virginia for many years. He teaches leadership and comedy classes through the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP).

For anyone who dreams of performing comedy, there is an inspiration, a moment when things shift. White recounted how he kick-started his growing comedy career when he was giving his son a pep talk about chasing dreams and not letting life go by. He realized he was also talking to himself as much as he was his son. He and his family had moved to the suburbs of D.C. for his job with the Department of Defense. “I was miserable in that role,” he said. His trajectory changed when he saw a flyer for a comedy class in a coffee shop through the ASAP and negotiated with his boss to not go on an assignment overseas but to stay back and take the six -week class.

“I knew I couldn't walk away when my ASAP instructor and other established comics gave me positive reinforcement,” said White. At 44 years old, he took the stage nearly seven years ago and commented, “It helped that I started comedy later in life. My writing and performing benefited me since I know who I am. I've been through a lot, and that confidence came out through my act.”

We know as hunters how much time and effort goes into our pursuits. Comedy, too, takes dedication and effort. My wife and I randomly ran into White in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania as he returned from opening for Tyler Fischer in New York. It was 7 a.m. at a Sheetz gas station, and the exhaustion showed. I thought, This is the not-so-glamorous side of comedy, but it seems worth the strain.

I asked how his family responded to him starting comedy, and he replied, chuckling, “My kids and wife went from ‘Its Dad's cute hobby’ to being annoyed with it, to cool with it.” White and his wife began hosting an open mic night in early 2021 and have become pillars of the D.C. community through it. “We've developed relationships we wouldn't have,” he shared. “We've had the chance to open our home to people we've connected with, and it's been exceptional for us over the past three years.”

In the past seven years, he has shared the stage with nationally touring comedians such as Josh Blue and Mark Normand and has opened for recognized comics such as Tyler Fischer and Derrick Stroup. He is already featuring and headlining at venues nationwide and is shooting his first special in June this year. His goal is to become a nationally touring headliner, and he is well on his way to achieving that goal. “I love everything about comedy,” said White. “I love the people and the places we create comedy, and I look forward to where this journey goes.”

For updates on Dewayne White’s tour dates and information, visit and follow him on Instagram @whitedewaynecomedy.