WHEN Sean Collins was told ‘go tell it to the marines’ he did just that – and had them rolling in the aisles.
Not only did he spin his yarns to the Royal Marines but also to the army, navy and air force.
The Gosport comedian has now spent so long entertaining servicemen and women in Afghanistan with his brand of observational humour that he has won a medal for his efforts.
The 46-year-old, of Bury Crescent, has just been presented with the Afghanistan Medal at a ceremony in London.
A Canadian by birth who moved to Britain in 2002 to appear at Glastonbury, he shot to fame on television’s Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow.
But he had already been spotted by Combined Services Entertainment, who asked him if he fancied a trip abroad.
They did not specify where, but Sean soon found out when he ended up in Iraq towards the end of the war there.
He is now a veteran of between six and eight tours in Afghanistan.
He has lost count of the exact number.
Two of those two to three-week-long trips have been to battle-hardened troops in forward operating bases in Helmand province.
He said: ‘It was a real honour to receive the medal – something I never expected.
‘It seems I got it for the number of hours I’ve spent in a war zone. I’m not the only one.
‘There are a few musicians, dancers and comedians who have also got it.’
Sean, who has twice been a winner in The News Guide awards, has learnt to cope with coming under fire while on stage – and not just from rowdy squaddies.
‘I was performing at one of the forward operating bases when we came under mortar fire.
‘The troops didn’t flinch, but I hit the deck immediately and was spreadeagled on the floor quaking.
‘The guys thought it was hilarious because they live like that all the time.
‘They really are the ones who deserve their medals,’ he added.
Sean has been fully trained and equipped with body armour and a helmet.
He said: ‘It’s a brutal environment and as much as I might think it’s a pretty horrible place to be, I’m only an entertainer doing a show and then getting to lie in a bunk.
‘The soldiers are putting on their equipment, going out to fight and some of them aren’t coming back. That’s pretty sobering.’
See a full interview with Sean in The News today