Scott Kennedy died unexpectedly on Thursday. The stand-up comedian, known for leading dozens of stand-up comedy tours to American military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, was in his 40s.
Scott Kennedy began his comedy career in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas, in 1989, when a friend entered him in an amateur comedy competition. Kennedy soon became part of the Houston comedy scene at the Laff Stop.
From his own bio, as referenced also on Comedy Central (where he performed a half-hour Comedy Central Presents in 2004), Kennedy noted: “Not surprised that I do stand-up comedy, I was always kind of the class clown. Surprised that I’m gay? I’m sure some will be surprised.”
Typically clad onstage in a football jersey, Kennedy founded “The Gay Comedy Jam,” and noted with pride that he was “the only comedian that can do a 45-minute set without ever mentioning his sexuality and get a standing ovation and can turn around and do another 45-minute set centered around his sexuality.” His nephew served in the military, and over the past decade — before the military dropped its own “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — the openly gay comedian was supporting the troops and making them laugh.
After touring with the USO a few times in Iraq, an Army officer asked Kennedy if he’d be willing to return on a monthly basis and bring his own comedians along for the ride. That’s how Comics Ready to Entertain began, introducing hundreds of stand-up comics to the forward operating bases near the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. By May 2011, Kennedy had led 43 tours to Iraq and another 11 to Afghanistan.
“You have to give them a little bit of home,” Kennedy said. “They have to feel normal once in awhile.”
This is a video of Scott Kennedy reflecting on his 27th trip to the troops, in which his then-75-year-old father joined him.
Kennedy also received a certificate of appreciation from then-Gen. David Petraeus, which read: “Scott has repeatedly placed himself in personal danger for the sake of troopers, traveling to small outposts in the most austere locations. Scott has demonstrated inspiring patriotism. His actions reflect great credit upon him and The United States of America.”
For a taste of Kennedy’s stand-up act, here he was performing in April 2008 on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
From his family, posted Thursday night to his Facebook page:
His legacy was laughter. Scott Kennedy, comedian, left today to be with his Lord and with his mom Barbara. Scott’s dad, his dear sister, and his beloved nephews wanted you, his friends and family, to know of his passing. Condolences on FB are welcome, or you are urged to send your favorite memory of Scott to the family at Mr. Jack Kennedy, 130 Broadmoor, Marble Falls, TX 78654 or call his sister Debbie at 512-788-2073. The family will maintain Scott’s FB page and we will post Memorial Service details at a later date. Thank those of you who were his Heroes. We know he left you laughing.