With just over two days to go before their Kickstarter deadline, the team behind VetTV weren't sure if they would make it to their goal."50 hours [before the deadline], I remember sitting on a conference call with the team... one of our guys sent out an email blast," Dan Coon, the Ops Manager for VetTV, told us. "In that last 50 hours, I probably slept like 4... we're all military, so we're all used to just, whatever time of day it is if somebody needs something we help each other out."That email blast was just what they needed. Suddenly, almost miraculously, donations were pouring in. Just about 1,400 of the total 3,609 backers came in those last 2 days.Then, the best case scenario happened."When the clock buzzed, we hit $296,332... out of the $250,000 that we were trying to raise," Dan said. "We literally couldn't think of stretch goals fast enough."VetTV is the brainchild of Donny O'Malley, a comedian with a military background in the Marines. After losing a friend and fellow vet to suicide, he became committed to providing an outlet for 9/11 generation veterans that would cater to their humor, and show the true, raw, uncut side of the military. He started with comedy shows, then best-selling books, but the idea of bringing humor to service members all over the world at any time became the larger goal.There was just one problem.
"Who does that? No sane person."
"You can't put that kind of content on any network," Dan told us. There is some very real truth to that; the type of comedy that happens during combat is not something typically palatable by the average civilian at home, and would never pass through the traditional TV rating system. It is a coping mechanism that develops out of necessity, and it demands that nothing is safe; not sex, not violence, and definitely not language. But if anything can be a joke, you can laugh your way through it."Humor is the glue that holds everybody together," Dan told us, recounting his experiences as an Infantry Marine. "The one thing that keeps people going is having the ability to laugh about things with your friends. I remember my second tour in Iraq, it was in Ramadi when Ramadi was deemed the worst place on the planet to be, and my squads were running around, kicking in doors and we'd have a bad day. Then someone would say, 'At least we're not Rangers,' and everyone would laugh because we're a bunch of Marines and that was the running joke.""One of my junior Marines, he got hit by an IED... and lost his leg. So, you know, once the immediate care was done, we finished up the tour, he went home. So when we first saw him, we started laughing about things that he had missed... he had his prosthetic leg at that point, and so his leg became the subject of many jokes. By the end of the night, we were using it as a beer holder.""Who does that? No sane person, but once again, we were a bunch of infantry Marines who just got out of 8 months in the worst place on the planet; to us, that was funny," Dan said.It's that connection, and the ability to laugh at the darkest of circumstances, that Donny and Dan hope to spread to any vet at any time, to remind them that they are not alone.
Doing the Impossible
Dan first met Donny by lending him some guns and gear for a photo shoot (Dan being a firearms instructor at the time). Later on, while recovering from a serious hernia surgery, he saw a request from Donny for help with his comedy tours. He couldn't lift 10 pounds, but he could make phone calls. Less than six months from then, with additional help, the two would conceptualize, plan, film, and fully fund the VetTV project - a process that could take other startups years to accomplish.VetTV plans to fully launch on July 4th, 2017. Much like Netflix or Hulu, there will be a blanket subscription fee to gain access to all the content available on the site. Right now, there are three shows that are already waiting for launch: Kill, Die, Laugh - the Chappelle show of the military, these comedy sketches will also feature veteran musicians, nonprofits, and businesses.Veteran Mating Game - a parody of classic dating game shows. As much as we pressed the team, there is still no clear word yet if Jody will make an appearance. We remain hopeful.A Grunt's Life - this show will showcase the humor in every part of the Infantryman's life - including a segment called "humvee confessions," a twist on the old show Taxicab Confessions. These shows were pre-taped and funded out of pocket. Now that the funding goal has been reached, the next steps are already moving forward; script writing, sponsorships, and filming.These existing shows were pre-taped in the San Diego area and were all funded out of pocket. Others are on the way, and now that the funding goal has been reached, the next steps are already moving forward; script writing, sponsorships, and filming; all with the goal of empowering and encouraging veterans."We're going to bring the veteran community together," Dan said. "All of these veteran entertainers, we want to bring them together, and put their stuff on our channel."If you have an idea for VetTV, you are able to submit it through their Writing Group. All other information regarding upcoming events can be found on their main Facebook Page.