FORT MEADE, MD – Faced with the proliferation of unapproved military humor sites that undermine good order and discipline, the Marine Corps has launched its own official humor show to counter them all.
The new series, called The Whiskey Locker, follows a fictional pair of Marines and their online show, which is like a cross between Tosh.0 and The Daily Show, only controlled by Marine Corps censors. To help Marines identify with the show's characters, it features the kind of Hollywood production values and realistic language people have come to expect from the producers of the Armed Forces Network.
According to Whiskey Locker spokesman and head writer LtCol Steven Hauk, the Distinguished Warfare Medal controversy woke many Pentagon officials up to the threat of unregulated military humor.
"That was the day we saw articles in Stars & Stripes, NBC News, even the New York Times, about how military personnel were openly mocking the decoration online," Hauk said. "They even linked to the jokes. It was bad enough having Bronze Star recipients and their widows attacking us, but to know junior Marines were laughing at us behind our backs was just too much."
"We knew we could do better than all those amateurs like Terminal Lance, Broken and Unreadable, Doctrine Man, Bob on the FOB, Air Force Blues, or that one page that rips off The Onion," said humor chief GySgt Lydia Byrd. "After all, we have all the resources and brainpower of the Marine Corps' top leadership, and these guys are just random non-rates posting jokes based on their limited experience and education."
"Knowing how to write a joke is just like knowing how to do a job — you can tell someone's ability level just by what rank they are. And since all of our jokes are written, screened, and approved by a board of fifteen gunnery sergeants and lieutenant colonels, we're naturally just going to make a funnier product," she added.
"It took us a while to hit on the format of Tosh.0 meets The Daily Show," said actor Aaron Urban, who plays fictional host Sergeant Todd Hunter. "It was originally an incompetent non-deployed sergeant with a super senior lance corporal who kept correcting him. It tested really well, but some higher up was worried that it encouraged insubordination, so we scrapped it."
Gunnery Sergeant Byrd then listed some of the other failed predecessors of The Whiskey Locker.
"After that, we had an officer with a lance corporal ventriloquist dummy who kept making bad choices so we could show the consequences. It was really popular," said Byrd. "One week, Woody would be getting a DUI, the next week he'd be making racist comments, acting inappropriately toward females, or whatever. The problem was that after every episode we'd see an enormous spike in whatever problem we'd covered because the junior Marines would just do whatever that puppet did, so that got cancelled too."
"Then we tried using two real Marines, and they were really funny. Their firsthand experience with the problems of life in the Fleet gave them a huge amount of insight and credibility, and it really came through in their jokes. Then one of them got busted down for bath salts and the other was arrested for urinating on the steps of the Capitol Building."
"After that we tried using the kind of blunt, insensitive humor that Marines crave in a news segment called 'lighten up', where the newscaster would say 'in other news, overweight Marines continue to be a problem.' Then he'd improvise a straight minute of humorous fake news about fat Marines. The segment would close with him saying 'and if that offends you, lighten up. Seriously, lighten up, fatass, you're too heavy.' Then a female staff sergeant complained the whole segment was 'size-ist,' whatever that means, so we had to cut it."
"It barely counts, but we also had the funny voice news for a while. In that one, we had our usual dull newscasters delivering all our regular news totally deadpan, but whenever they came to an announcement from someone, like the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, they would read the announcement in a really exaggerated imitation of the way that person talks."
"It was wildly popular, but Headquarters Marine Corps killed it in the middle of the first show."
"Finally, we hit on our current format — just put out our normal public service announcements with some clips from actual humor shows, and describe it as Tosh.0 meets The Daily Show. I mean, who the hell are junior Marines to tell the United States Marine Corps what humor is? If we say it's humor, it's daggone humor. You don't want to laugh, you undisciplined fucking lance corporal? Fine, pros and cons will reflect. Now THAT's funny."
"It was such a brilliant concept," said LtCol Hauk. "Once we realized we could just call anything humor and mandate that junior Marines laugh at it, things just took off. We knew we needed to start with a really patronizing name, so we went straight to boot camp terminology. The Smokey Bear, The Ink Stick, The Moonbeam, The Go-Faster — we almost went with The Yellow Footprints, but apparently that's been trademarked by an Asian foot fetishist group."
Now that the Marine Corps has its own humor show, the funny-men behind The Whiskey Locker are already planning ways to edge their unofficial competition out of the market.
"It isn't just that we want Marines to laugh at The Whiskey Locker," says Gunny Byrd. "It's that we want to make it perfectly clear that they shouldn't be laughing at unapproved humor in the first place."
To this end, the Marine Corps plans to publish a new humor order listing sources of approved humor that Marines can legally laugh at. Though the order is currently only in draft, it reportedly includes jokes made by superiors, SemperToons, Greenside, The Whiskey Locker, and civilian jokes on a case-by-case basis, provided that a Marine laughing at them could not be construed as suggesting that the Marine Corps condones any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or body type.
The humor order's publication will also mandate a new series of classes targeted primarily at NCOs and below, called "That's Not Funny."
"That's Not Funny" training will be instituted as additional mandatory annual training to instruct Marines that not only are they legally obligated to refrain from laughing when unapproved jokes are being told, but that they are also morally obligated to take the initiative and correct any junior Marines who do laugh.
"What did the MRE say to the lance corporal? I don't taste very good, but that's no reason to violate your oath to obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over you. If you're not watching the Whiskey Locker, those are the kinds of jokes you're missing," says LtCol Hauk.
"It's like Tosh.0 meets The Daily Show," he added.
Duffel Blog Investigative Reporter G-Had also contributed to this report.