While many choose to head to the beach for their holidays, Prince Albert comedian Kelly Taylor likes to spend his time off doing something a little different.
Taylor just returned on Tuesday from a four-day trip to the Middle East, where he spent his time entertaining Canadian troops abroad.
“Originally we were supposed to go to Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Oman, except it was too dangerous in Afghanistan so we ended up skipping it,” Taylor said.
Taylor travelled with a group of celebrity guests sent in to keep the troops entertained, including former NHL players Brian Burke and Brad May as well as a band member from Glass Tiger.
“It was awesome,” Taylor said about spending four days travelling with NHL players and musicians. “I went over with a great group of people.”
Taylor says the trip was a whirlwind adventure that began as soon as the group boarded the plane to Kuwait.
“There was not a lot of sleeping, I’ll tell you that,” Taylor said with a laugh. “You start the party on the plane, you have drinks and incredible visits, because you’ve got NHL legends and a guy from Glass Tiger whose got amazing rock band stories.”
The trip was spent playing ball hockey and poker with the troops, as well as performing for them in the evenings. Taylor says that the troops were thankful for the visit.
“It’s the weirdest thing, getting a thank you from someone who has been out there for eight months,” Taylor said. “We’ve been over there for three days and they come up and thank us.”
Taylor says that despite the situation the soldiers are in, they were happy and optimistic.
“They always seem like they are in good spirits,” Taylor said. “They always seem like they are in a good mood and when they complain they always complain about little things like how Kuwait’s ugly, but they just laugh about it.”
This is Taylor’s second trip to the Middle East. Last July, he visited Afghanistan. Despite the country being a dangerous place to visit, Taylor says he felt protected among the soldiers.
“As soon as you land you get put in a vest and a helmet, and you get put in a thing called a pod,” Taylor said. “And you go down into Kabul, strapped in like a racecar driver in this pod so if you get hit by an IED the pod blows off the vehicle and you have to be prepared to stay in it, self contained for three days. But I always felt that if something happened we would be alright.”
Taylor says that the group of people he travelled with all became fast friends, bragging that he now has both Brian Burke and Brad May’s personal phone numbers.
“We were only together four days, but when we were leaving we were all hugging each other,” Taylor said. “I don’t even hug my own friends very often, and here we were having this emotional goodbye.”
Taylor plans to keep entertaining troops, though the Middle East tour will no longer be offered as Canadian troops will soon be leaving the area. Taylor hopes to travel to Canada’s base in Alert, the most northern inhabited place in the world.
“Anybody can book a trip to Mexico or the Carribbean,” Taylor said. “But with this you’re definitely going to places others aren’t going to. There’s not a lot of people going to Kuwait for a holiday.”