During his fourth tour in Iraq, former staff sergeant Bobby Henline was burned by a roadside bomb.
He is one of four wounded warriors who graced the stage this week at the new Laugh Factory Chicago in Lakeview. He says sometimes it's hard for the audience to accept his transition from combat to comedy.
"I have to address my appearance otherwise you're not gonna get 'em," Henline said. "Let them know it's ok to laugh at me."
All of the veterans have learned to laugh through their pain.
"You start off really bad and the goal is they say thrive," said Illinois National Guard Lt. Steve Rice. "Once I got the prosthetic leg, that's where the thriving started."
"It's always been a coping mechanism for me to laugh whenever anything really horrible happens," said Sgt. Joe Kashnow.
Despite heroics in battle, the new comics say comedy is no walk in the park.
"I like to think comedy kind of comes out of pain so I'm telling this story which if I told in another way could be very sad and I'm trying to make them laugh about it, so definitely there are jitters," said Captain Darisse Smith.
The Laugh Factory's owner says there's no more fitting way to join the Chicago community than by honoring veterans and giving back.
"Laughter is a healer," said Jamie Masada. "I do a comedy camp for underprivileged kids. We've been doing it 27 years and we're going to do the same thing in Chicago. We know how much we can help people through laughter."
In honor of the new Chicago club, all military servicemen and women will get free admission to the laugh factory for an entire year when they present their military ID.
Laugh Factory Chicago
3175 N. Broadway St.
Chicago, IL 60657