Commander Vinnie Montez is a 22-year veteran with the Boulder County (CO) Sheriff's Office. He has also begun a second career as a stand-up comedian, with regular appearances at a comedy club in Denver, a growing following on social media, and gigs booked across the country when he has time off that allows him to travel.
About a year ago, I introduced you to him in this space. I noted at the time that Vinnie uses his humor as a way to relieve some of the stresses of the job and to give the general public who attend comedy shows in his area a glimpse into what being a police officer is really like. I also noted in that column that Vinnie often does his comedy shows to raise money for various charities. He's shared the stage with comedians such as Paul Rodriguez, Joe Rogan, Joey Diaz, Josh Blue, and others.
Vinnie and I have kept in touch a little bit since that first article and I recently learned that he's got something coming up that will be of particular interest to first responders.
The show—performed at Comedy Works in Denver will have only 150 people in the audience due to social distancing procedures.
In-person tickets quickly sold out for Vinnie's Sept. 12 show, but he and the club's management figured out a way to make the show available to anyone with an Internet connection and $10 in their pocket.
Internet servers are warming up for as many first responders across the globe who want to enjoy the event. Further, the organizers built into the event the knowledge that first responders might not have the ability to watch the performance as it's happening live because they're sleeping, working, or doing whatever else one may want to be doing on a Saturday night (…ahem). So, the entire show will remain online for on-demand viewing for a period of time after the lights go down and the venue closes its doors for the evening.
If you buy the live stream, you can watch it for up to 24 hours. If you can't watch the show at 7:30 Mountain Time, you have up to 24 hours to watch the show with the link you'll receive via email following your ticket purchase.
Here are some more details about what is in store on that second Saturday in September.
Comedy Amid COVID
Providing services to those in distress, in need of medical care, or in need of incarceration during this pandemic has placed a new layer of stress on first responders, and Vinnie aims to address those thoughts.
"Everything's COVID this, COVID that," Vinnie said at the outset of our most recent conversation. "I just like to hang out with my friends and worry about dying the normal ways—like heart attack, stroke, those kinds of things, that it wouldn't just be COVID all the time. Yeah. That's where I'm at."
Vinnie said that his special blend of comedy—in particular the set he's put together for this special event—is aimed at lightening the load for all public safety personnel—law enforcement firefighters, EMS, and medical workers.
"Right now, what we can't do is we can't have the contact that we're used to having with people, and cops use comedy to deal with the stress that they have," Vinnie said. "I really want to bring some laughter to people's hearts—we are going to have a good time."
Vinnie added that he'll be poking fun at the things that have first responders on heightened alert in the during the COVID pandemic that are heaped on top of what puts pressure on those individuals on a regular basis.
"You have to make light of some of the things that we're dealing with right now," He said. "For example, when we first started out through the COVID, we were all like, 'Do we touch the food that comes from the grocery store. Do we need to decontaminate it?' I set up a 48 hour procedure where I couldn't touch the food that came into our house. We had to let it D-con. We'd spray it down. We'd run out of Doritos and I'd be sitting there at the bottom of stoop, looking at all this food. I'd be like, 'In 48 hours, I'm going to man handle you'."
Vinnie added, "I'm going to talk about our business—what we do in the medical and law enforcement field—whether you're a cop or you're a nurse, or you're a doctor, we've all experienced the same stressors. We deal with things that are in the moment—they're life and death. I'm going to be talking about us."
Vinnie used the illustration of some cops—and just about every department has this officer—who doesn't quite pay careful enough attention to the calls from dispatch.
"There's a call of a car on a fire, and of course the cop going to the call will be like, 'Uh, yeah, dispatch, can you give me a description of the vehicle? We're all yelling at the radio. 'It's the one that's on fire! It's the one that's on fire!.'"
After I stopped laughing at that one, Vinnie added, "That's for my dispatch friends out there. I just want you to know, those dispatchers, they're the ones taking all the calls and listening to us cops chatter up on the radio. But yeah, there's a little bit for everybody."
Of the nearly 800,000 police officers in America, roughly 799,999 have an amazing sense of humor. It's a special kind of humor—it's dark, a little disturbing, and usually would be considered by the general public to be off-putting. But it's brilliant and I love it.
I've never been a police officer, but I've been in countless pre-shift briefings, done dozens of ridealongs, attended hundreds—if not thousands—of hours of police training events, and law enforcement conferences. During many of those interactions, I've often laughed so hard that my sides hurt.
Vinnie Montez has taken what most cops reserve for a quip or a one-liner at briefing—or at a murder scene—and put it on stage and on the Internet. But he's not the only one. I strongly encourage all LEOs to get to know—if you don't already—the hilarity produced by folks like Michael Mancini, Kevin Jordan "Mike the Cop" and "Officer Daniels."
Times are tough nowadays. Take a little time to have a laugh and lighten the load.
Start with streaming Vinnie's show. Click here to sign up for the streamed event.