Officer Uses Stand-Up Comedy to Relieve Stress, Raise Money for Charity

Commander Vinnie Montez of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office in Colorado has taken his penchant for making people laugh from a hobby to what may be his full-time career upon retirement.

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Commander Vinnie Montez—a 20-year veteran in law enforcement—got into comedy in 2007 with a trial performance at an open mic night at the Comedy Works in Denver and now does charity events as well as paid gigs.Commander Vinnie Montez—a 20-year veteran in law enforcement—got into comedy in 2007 with a trial performance at an open mic night at the Comedy Works in Denver and now does charity events as well as paid gigs.Image courtesy of Vinnie Montez / Facebook.

Earlier this week, we reported about an officer with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office who has a second career in his off-duty time as a stand-up comedian.

Commander Vinnie Montez—a 20-year veteran in law enforcement—has worked his entire career with the BCSO, and has taken that experience and turned it into comedy gold.

Montez performs regularly at a local comedy club in Denver and also books gigs across the country.

After writing the short news item about Commander Montez on Tuesday, this police writer took a bit of a break from working and went down the rabbit hole in further researching his comedy work.

Montez has a robust YouTube channel on which he posts short videos of his routines—I spent a good long time watching and admiring his stuff.

A Childhood Dream

Growing up in Boulder, Vinnie always wanted to be a police officer.

Currently the day shift patrol commander for the BCSO, Vinnie started in law enforcement in 1990 as a Police Explorer at the age of 18. He continued as an Explorer until he was 21 years old, even though the agency hired him right after he got out of high school as a dispatcher.

He was then hired with the sheriff's office as a reserve after graduating academy and then by the end of 1998 the agency hired him in the jail full time.

"I went from the jail to the street and I've worked everything that you can possibly work from a DUI officer to work as a property crimes detective for a couple of years," Vinnie said during a phone interview this week.

"Then I got transferred into the narcotic drug task force unit. I worked there as a detective for several years and then got back to the street." Then he did another stint in narcotics and came back out on the street in 2016.

He's got about eight more years until retirement—but it's pretty clear what his second career will be when he eventually pulls the pin.

Humor as Medicine

"I got my start in comedy because of my mental health," Vinnie said.

While off duty one night in 2008, Vinnie came upon a terrible automobile crash and sat with a young man as he passed away.

"I was just overwhelmed with emotion that night. For some reason that was the time where my health kinda ran over and I just hit a wall," he said.

"Our Sheriff is real big on 'Emotional Survival for Police Officers'—the book by Dr Kevin Gilmartin. And he told me, 'Hey man, you need to take care of your mental health.'"

Vinnie explained that when you're a young officer, you have a big bucket into which you begin piling up the stress of witnessing the worst of human trauma, but as the years pass, that bucket gets full and needs to be emptied.

Standing up in front of a hundred or more people and making them laugh at some of the terrible things he's seen over his career is his way of emptying that bucket full of stress.

Philanthropic Work

Vinnie got into comedy in 2007 with a trial performance at an open mic night at the Comedy Works in Denver.

When he got word that a fellow officer in a nearby jurisdiction needed a liver transplant, he had the idea to present a charity show to raise money for him.

"I'm a jack of all trades—I was a DJ growing up—and my buddy Sam and I worked together to produce the show. We made over ten grand in one night, and you know, he was able to get a liver transplant."

He followed that with a charity show to raise money for a former narcotics unit partner who needed a heart transplant.

Then a charity show for Hallie's Heroes in Fort Worth, Texas—an organization named for a little girl named Hallie Bea Barnard was just five pounds at birth and at 13 months old a blood test provided a diagnosis of Diamond-Blackfan Anemia (DBA).

"I think we raised just over $33,000 for this little girl. And she ended up being able to find a donor match, which was amazing," he said.

Word of his charitable works spread, and soon thereafter, the Humanize the Badge organization brought him onto their team—he's been traveling with them of late, performing around the country in his off time.

He also books gigs at police gatherings—he'll be at the 46th Annual National Latino Peace Officer Association Conference in early September. He gets paid for corporate gigs, but says that he'll continue to do charity events.

"I do a lot of philanthropic work because that's where I started and I will always do that," he said.

A Special Brand of Humor

Vinnie says that following some of his performances, audience members will come up to him and say, "Are you really a cop? I've never met a funny cop before."

But every cop in America knows that cops are some of the funniest people around. However, their humor is only shared in the squad room, locker room, workout room, squad car, and behind the yellow tape at crime scenes—the public rarely gets a glimpse of officers' ability to draw a hearty laugh.

The general public would not necessarily appreciate the very special—and dark—brand of humor that police officers use to relieve stress and get through the shift.

"People have to understand the reference in order to be able to enjoy it," Vinnie said. "The number one thing when you're doing comedy is that it has to be relatable. So people who watch you and think you're funny are oftentimes people who relate to you."

Vinnie provided an example of some of that impromptu wit that police officers display even amid a terribly ghastly crime scene.

"I remember this like it was yesterday. There was this guy who killed himself. Not to be too gruesome, but basically he shot himself and blew his head off. I get there, and my buddy Jason pulls the guy's driver's license out and with two fingers he covers the guy's head. And he was like, 'you think this is our guy right here?'"

A hilarious one-liner that would probably be lost on the average civilian.

"So yeah, comedy is really, truly a defense mechanism. Some of these cops are so smart and so quick witted—there's one guy at work that I think he should be a stand-up comic. I will never have his wit. I have to work really hard to do it."

The result of that hard work is plainly evident when Vinnie takes the stage and does his thing.

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