The Operation Bravo comedy and variety show entertained personnel at the Washington Navy Yard (WNY), August 7, during a lunch hour performance at the Catering and Conference Center.
The mind-reading act of Jeff and Kimberly Bornstein headlined the show, with accompanying performances by stand-up comedian Steve Mazan and comedy juggler Ivan Pecel.
Operation Bravo often joins the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment for tours to entertain service members around the world, including previous tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Jeff Bornstein, an Army veteran, said the shows are a way to give back to a familiar community.
“When I was in Germany, the USO brought over the cast from “Happy Days” to entertain us and play softball with us, and I remember thinking how cool it would be to do something like this one day,” said Bornstein, a former Hollywood stuntman who started performing the mind-reading act after meeting Kimberly. “What more fun can you have than entertaining the troops and seeing the magic on their faces when something happens?”
Performing at a naval installation was also a familiar sight for Mazan, a former Sailor turned comedian who has since been featured on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and the Bob and Tom Show, as well as making seven trips to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I was in the Navy myself many, many years ago on a submarine, and we never got entertainment, obviously. When I got out of the Navy and got into comedy, I was like ‘Wow, it would be awesome to go back and entertain the troops,’” Mazan said. “I’ve been lucky. I’ve been back to the base in Norfolk, Virginia where I was stationed and got to go back and perform for people on subs when they’re on shore leave.”
Mazan got the crowd going with a short routine before Pecel brought his brand of high-energy comedic juggling of random objects to the stage, as well as into the crowd, where he climbed atop audience members holding a bowling ball, a hatchet, and an apple.
“It’s real interactive—a lot of improv stuff,” said Pecel, who was featured on season one of “America’s Got Talent.” “It’s high energy; I try to make it fun.”
Pecel returned to the stage to actually juggle the objects, leaving the crowd laughing as he continued through the rest of his show. The Bornsteins wowed the crowd with a series of mind-reading tricks, including reading the serial number off a random audience member’s dollar bill.
“They’re amazing,” said Sean Crean, director for Navy Small Business, who took part in the trick. “I was holding currency that I know they’ve never seen and Kimberly was able to read that off directly.”
Crean said he and his staff were looking for a quick and fun break during the summer day, and decided to attend after seeing posters for the show around the Yard.
“It was incredibly entertaining,” he added. “It was a great way to break up the middle of the day and enjoy some laughs.”
All the performers from Operation Bravo agreed bringing smiles and time away from work is why they keep performing for the military and civilian personnel at bases around the world.
“This is just about making people laugh,” said Mazan. “These are easily the best shows we get to do.”