Actor and comedian Rob Riggle is largely recognized from his success on ‘The Daily Show’, but was he ever in the military?
Rob Riggle had a long military career before pursuing his dream of becoming a comedian. He originally gained a flight contract with the Marine Corps but decided to become a ground officer and served as a Public Affairs Officer. He completed nine years of active duty before becoming a reserve.
Read on to learn more about Riggle’s time as a Marine, as a reserve, and his move to comedy.
Joining the Marines
Born in Kentucky, Rob Riggle attended the University of Kansas, where he obtained his pilot’s license and joined the Marines. Speaking with Marines Mag, Riggle explained that his license meant he was able to gain a “guaranteed flight contract”.
As for why he chose the Marines, Riggle was looking for the biggest challenge: “They had such a proud and amazing history… I wanted to see if I had what it took to become a Marine”.
Riggle attended flight school to begin his training and was close to receiving his wings when he had a change of heart. He told CBS that the further he got with his training the more he realized that flying would likely prevent him from pursuing his comedy aspirations.
Figuring out his priorities, Riggle decided to drop out of flight school to continue his service on the ground.
Public Affairs Officer
During his time in Albania and Liberia, Riggle helped with efforts to build refugee camps to house the many fleeing from Kosovo.
His first station, however, saw him take night school comedy classes around his work, and he kept up this commitment as far as he was able during his service.
After his nine years of active service, Riggle decided to move to the reserves. He was working long nights trying to break into comedy clubs in New York, whilst stationed in the city with a reserve unit.
In the wake of the September 11 Attacks, Riggle’s unit was on the ground helping to move rubble and search for bodies. Angry about the attack and aware of his security clearance, Riggle volunteered “to go back in”.
He was sent to Afghanistan to serve under Lieutenant Colonel Max Bowers. In a twist of fate, Riggle would later play Bowers in the film ‘12 Strong’, which tells the story of the operation in Afghanistan after the attacks.
Riggle was a reserve until 1 January 2013, when he officially retired.
Breaking into Comedy
When it came to making it as a comedian, Riggle credits the Marines for helping on the path to success. He’s said of his service, “it made me mentally tough, which is what you have to be in show business. Show business is brutal”.
He became a cast member of ‘The Daily Show’ in 2006 and is best known for his sketches on the show. His military experience has been an influence in his comedy and he’s told reporters he loves to play the role of “arrogant ignorance” in his fake reporting.
In addition to starring in ‘The Daily Show’, Riggle has made appearances in movies, such as ‘21 Jump Street’, and ‘Step Brothers’, and had a role in ‘New Girl’.
Summing up how he feels about his service, Riggle said “I earned the title Marine, no one gave it to me. I’ll be proud of that as long as I’m alive”.
Listen to Riggle discuss balancing his dreams of comedy with his role as a Marine in the YouTube video below.