Any Air Force recruiter’s office is filled with images of fast jets, tacticool dudes with guns, and cyber blinky-lights that make the branch look like the headquarters of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. But then you get to the other side of the curtain, where you’re stuck buying biscuits from Red Lobster because you made the mistake of asking the security forces airmen guarding the gates of the Air Force base if they needed anything.
That’s the side of the service that Senior Airman Chambers and Senior Airman Wooh Man, who went by their social media handles for this article, make skits about in a long-running series of comedy sketches they started last fall when they were stationed together in Guam.
Their goal: take the funny aspects of military life and turn them up to 11. One great example is when people drive onto an Air Force base and ask the security forces airmen guarding the gate if they need anything, like water or a snack. That’s a very nice thing to do, but what if the airmen want a burger from McDonald’s, biscuits from Red Lobster and some premium Fiji water? This is what happens:
“My goal when I’m making videos is to make it an over-exaggeration,” said Chambers. “All of these videos are from some type of security forces experience, either one we’ve had or we’ve seen or heard about. The thing that brings me enjoyment is: we’re thinking ‘this can happen, let’s put that in there,’ and then we get comments tagging other people and saying ‘hey bro, didn’t this happen to you?”
Riffing on real-world experience has been the name of the game for Wooh Man and Chambers from the beginning. Some of their early skits include having a passive-aggressive fight with a fellow enlisted airman when an officer is around, the immense fun of getting scheduled to pull a guard shift with your best buds, and, of course, the endless gluttony that unfolds after the PT test was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most of our stuff is real-world, like this really happens to airmen at some time,” Chambers said.
The two comedians first met on Guam, but their paths getting there were similar. Both were looking for ways to pay for school, and both had their sights set on becoming professional entertainers. For Chambers, it began when he was working as a receptionist at the State Department and someone told him about the opportunities in the Air Force. For Wooh Man, it began when an off-duty recruiter approached him as he was collecting shopping carts in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart where he worked.
“He was in shorts and a t-shirt and he’s like ‘hey did you ever think about joining the Air Force?’” Wooh Man recalled. “And I’m like ‘Air Force,’ nah, I don’t want to fly planes. So he broke down what the Air Force was about, how I could travel and they pay for school.”
This was in 2019, and the 18-year-old Wooh Man had just started making comedy skits about work and life in Clairton, Pennsylvania, a small factory town outside Pittsburgh that has historically suffered from widespread crime and poverty. The airman’s dream is to become an actor-comedian like Kevin Hart, whose stand-ups he’s seen as many as five times each.
“The way his personality is, you know, he’s just so open about it,” Wooh Man said. “I feel like I can relate to him … I was going through a lot as a kid, my dad went to jail when I was 9 years old, so my role model at the time was Kevin Hart. He is still my role model and I hope that someday I get to meet him because I want him to know what type of power he had in my life without even knowing who I am.”
Wooh Man waited six months for a spot to open up in the Air Force, but soon after enlisting he found himself in the security forces field alongside Chambers in Guam. When the two met, they hit it off: Chambers was a great mentor for the younger airman, and Wooh Man was more mature than most airmen first class, Chambers said. Plus, they shared a passion for comedy: Chambers had performed a few stand-up shows before joining the Air Force in 2015 and Wooh Man had made a few funny skits on YouTube before joining too.
“My friend Wooh Man, he comes into the Air Force, fresh out of boot camp, and he’s telling me ‘yeah man, I do comedy skits, you’re funny, we should do some comedy skits together,’” Chambers recalled.
It took a few months for Chambers to get on board, during which time Wooh Man made a few of his own skits. But when Chambers finally did sign on, he had a blast.
“It was towards the end of my time in Guam, and I was going through a rough time and I needed that distraction,” he said. “I did a skit with him and I was like ‘you know what, this is actually pretty fun.’ It was really him that got me into it.”
Part of the reason it was so fun was because neither Chambers, Wooh Man nor any of their buddies had professional acting or production training, so they shot cut after cut just trying to keep in character for their videos. But like all good things, Chambers’ time in Guam came to an end, and he PCS’d to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. in September. Still, that didn’t put a stop to the skit-making. Even before Chambers took off, Wooh Man made a skit about saying good-bye to your buddy at the airport, and followed it up with a skit about the emotional distress of seeing a stranger move into their empty barracks room.
Even though they were separated by 6,400 miles and 17 time zones, they still managed to star in each other’s videos, like this one about what it’s like when you realize your so-called friends went to the DFAC without you.
“All you need is a white wall behind you and the same voice talking to you, and it creates the illusion that they’re right next to each other,” Chambers said, about long-distance TikTok collaborations.
Chambers and Wooh Man hit a military comedy niche: several of their videos have hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and TikTok, and a few have over a million. A look at the comments shows that the skits hit close to home for a lot of airmen.
“Legit, that’s how we roll in Security Forces,” wrote one YouTube commenter, about the ‘getting defenders snacks’ skit. “Keep it up gentlemen.”
“If anyone is wondering, this actually happens,” wrote another. “Especially late at night when you’re the only car they’ve seen for hours.”
Keep in mind that these videos were coming out in the middle of 2020, during a pandemic and after a summer of nationwide protests, so plenty of airmen needed a lift.
“I will get messages like ‘hey keep doing what you’re doing, I’m at work and it sucks but you bring me happiness,’” said Wooh Man.
It was a bit of a full-circle experience for Wooh Man, who grew up using Kevin Hart’s comedy to get through some of the harder parts of childhood.
“I’m like ‘no way, this is just amazing for me,’” he said.
Chambers and Wooh Man also have plenty of solo-act videos. For example, Chambers made skits about a military homecoming gone terribly wrong, the disturbing marching cadences you sometimes hear in the military, and what it’s like to see the doctor when you’re in security forces (hint, ibuprofen is involved). Part of Chambers’ goal in making these videos is to show that airmen, despite their guns and camouflage, can feel comfortable just being themselves.
“My goal would be to make people come to the realization that they need to be more relaxed with themselves,” he said. “So many people are committed to look good in certain situations. I like being myself and I hope my videos can inspire others to like being themselves too.”
Wooh Man, meanwhile, has quite a few knee-slappers about trying to hide when Retreat is about to play; about what it’s like when service members get married; and about trying to play the vet card to get out of a speeding ticket (“I was in a rush to go save my country” he says).
You might notice that some of Wooh Man’s skits have an edge to them. For example, one of his videos is about a merciless NCO appearing out of nowhere shouting at him to put his patrol cap on, even when he’s sleeping. That video is based on an actual incident where an NCO told him to put on his cap right as he was getting into his car.
“I’m like, ‘dang, bro, relax,’” Wooh Man recalled.
Another skit, about the inept base post office, was based on an incident where they sent back a $1,200 laptop Wooh_Man had ordered. The post office sent it back across the Pacific without even telling him it had arrived.
“It’s funny but it’s also a voice like ‘hey this is kind of a problem,’” he said.
Still, Wooh Man said joining the Air Force was one of the best decisions he ever made, and he’s proud of his service. That makes it all the more annoying when someone mistakes him for a soldier despite his uniform saying “Air Force” on it. Yes, he made a skit about that too.
“Even some of my family members back home are like ‘yeah how’s the Army going?’ and I’m like ‘Ma, you know I’m not in the Army,’” he said.
Nowadays, Wooh Man gets recognized by people off base who know him from his videos. It’s a great start to becoming something like the next Kevin Hart.
“There’s not really a lot of stand up out here, but the next opportunity I have, I’m going to go there,” he said. “I’m very confident that I will make somebody laugh, and I don’t care if it’s one person, somebody is going to laugh.”
Chambers has a similar, keep-it-rolling kind of attitude. He’ll keep making videos for now, and then just follow where the laughs take him.
“People have always told me ‘yeah man, you make a great entertainer,’” he said. “I’m passionate about making people smile, lifting up people’s day. So any type of platform that would help amplify that, I would be willing to give it a shot.”