Tour Journals

Tour: TV You Can Heckle
Location: South San Francisco
Date: 07.17.07

The first day of tour is in the bag.

After marveling the fact that we fit 800lbs of male, nearly 500 'zines, clothes, props, and sleeping bags into Ryan's luxurious Prius, we were almost ready to leave. Trouble is, our tour calendar has us in B.C. in early August. I, the fantastically untraveled devil I am, have a passport that expired in 1997. While the guys were showing off their passports like the American Psycho "Card Game," I sat on the sidelines like Rudolph the Can't-Get-Across-the-Border Reindeer. As I have seen From Dusk Till Dawn a dozen times, I know how to smuggle myself across a border. I just need a bathroom and Juliet Lewis.

And we're off...

I, in typical fashion, fell asleep in the car about fifteen minutes in. I awoke to the sound of an officer tapping on the passenger-side window. Apparently, we'd been speeding. The officer was disturbingly affable. He asked if Ryan played basketball, smelled like Old Spice, and was a generally nice guy. Then he cited us. Drag.

Our newly installed GPS system (courtesy of my father [thanks Dad]) brought us into the San Francisco downtown right on schedule. We peeked our heads into the venue and found it to be a rather agreeable, hip joint called Club Deluxe. They host a weekly open-mic comedy night which we would soon be a part of. Tonight's theme: Driest Comic Standing. A monotone call to arms of unenthusiastic comradery. Many of the comics were a blast. I was pretty blown away by the amateur talent.

When we took the stage, I found myself in a rare state of calm. I usually adopt a policy of colossally freaking out before show time, but today my hands were steady, my stomach un-knotted, and my heart keeping a labored, steady beat.

There is some dissension within the group as to how we were received last night. I will defer to me... who is writing the tour entry. On a scale from being lynched to being heralded as geniuses, I would say that it was closer to the former. But in the words of President Bill Pullman, "I don't give a fuck."

Luckily, we're all in good spirits. Tina and her roommate, C-Tina, are as hospitable as ever, we've got gas in the car, and Carolyn's delicious muffins in our stomachs. TV You Can Heckle versus The Road Round 1 goes to the road. We're pressing the select button and coach is patting our shoulders between rounds. Let's get it on.

Location: South San Francisco
Date: 07.18.07

Day 2 of TV You Can Heckle versus The Road. GPS system blows our mind about technology. Open-mic comedy at Annie's Social Club. Eighteen people on the list. Nineteen people in the room. The lone man not performing is clad in all black, shaved head, circa forty, wearing a ninja-style mask, and glasses from the 20s. With him he carries two medium size cardboard boxes filled with Luna Bars. For those who are not part of the energy bar revolution, Luna bars are the female counterparts to Cliff bars--eaten by protein dudes everywhere. What's curious is that this man quietly sits through the first few comics, then slowly starts to open his boxes. Keeping his gaze fixed on the stage, he begins to dispense the nutrition bars onto and around the surrounding tables. He takes handfuls and places them on the table of women behind him. When the comedians start to comment on his mysterious behavior, he launches into ad copy announcing the fabulous health benefits of his products. Minutes go by and I start to realize that I'm on tour and planning to be hungry tomorrow morning. A handful of snack bars is just what the doctor ordered. I reach into the man's box of neatly organized snack foods and pull out a Blueberry Yogurt thing. Unwrapping the treat, I begin to feast upon my good fortune. Minutes pass. Despite raising my estrogen levels, I find the snack to be quite agreeable. As few of the patrons are taking advantage of this generous offer, it dawns on me to procure the remaining units for later consumption. As I reach for a handful, Tim looks at me and says, "Are you really going to eat that."

I am dumb.

It occurs to me in a much belated revelation that I am breaking the cardinal rule of being a kid: Don't accept candy from strangers. I further examine the gentleman distributing the desserts and I realize that he is most certainly not the type of person I would employ to sell women's nutritional supplement bars. He is more like the guy you'd hire to kill someone in an alleyway. It is this realization that causes a distinct churning in my stomach. It is both anxiety and the fear of being poisoned. I start to feel dizzy. At this point, I'm fairly sure the snacks have been drugged, I am succumbing to the effects of one or more knockout drugs and am about to enter a world of pain. I rush to the bathroom and quickly bulemicize (definition: the verb form of bulimia) myself. My index finger reaches down my throat to beckon the alien food particles to evacuate their current position in favor of a bar toilet. I vomit. I vomit voluntarily and completely. Upon my return to the tiny room where the open-mic is taking place, I find the gentleman still quietly attending. Fearing I will be too incapacitated to accurately describe the man to police sketch artists when news gets out that dozens died in a mass snack-food poisoning, I snap a picture of the man with my phone camera. Perhaps police can track him down when I'm dead. One of the other comics kindly pointed out that I was eating food from a homeless man. Clearly I have been living a rather sheltered life. All I could think about was, "Hey, free tour food. Sweet."

Five hours after poisoning: dizzy, fatigued, headache, nausea, paranoia. Will report on status change.

Location: Los Angeles
Date: 07.19.07

TV You Can Heckle stays in an LA Mansion: part one.

After leaving our good friends Tina and C-Tina (Christina) with a bag full of non-poisoned snack bars, we head off to LA. I am drinking lots of water, staying hydrated, and in good spirits. However, about forty-five minutes outside of LA, my bladder stages a coup against me and the rest of Team Reno. Fortunately, we hit a traffic jam that could only be cooked up in LA. We're five miles from our destination, but traveling 3MPH. You do the math. I start squirming in my seat trying to coax my bladder into compliance. Four miles to destination. Things are getting worse. Three miles. It's getting unbearable now. Two miles. I'm contemplating urinating into my Nalgene bottle and scrubbing it later on with steel wool. 1.9 miles. I've had it. I insist that Ryan pull over, and in the middle of LA rush hour traffic, begin to relieve myself on the side of the highway. It turns out that I have fans I didn't know about. As I am immersed in my glorious urination, cars honk and hoot. People shout things and heckle. But, I remain the bright, calm, blue, Zen center of the universe, for I have never felt such a tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders. It lasts for what seems like an hour. We arrive at a woman named Missy's house to the most hospitable conditions imaginable. No one is as happy as I am.

Tonight we're at an open-mic at the Westside Ecclectic. It's small and the host, Ed Galvez, decided to make the show "Poke Fun at Ed Galvez" themed-- of which we were happy to oblige. The room was friendly, but the main attraction was a seventeen-year-old girl who was going on stage for the first time. She's got courage I haven't even imagined yet. Plus, I think she was pretty funny. On an unrelated side note, all the white, square comics in California have a thing for black women. Just something we noticed. We performed "Hall Monitor Boot Camp" which went over surprisingly well. It made us feel much more enthusiastic about our show there on Sunday.

Lost trying to find the car. Turns out there are several identical parking structures that are trying to hide your car. Beware.

Back to the mansion. Did I mention we're staying in a mansion? The people who live there are out of town and we're invited to stay for as long as we'd like. One of the inhabitants will arrive in the morning. Place is both huge, and creepy. We're pretty sure it's the mansion from Clue. Every time I turn around I'm expecting to get offed in the study with the candlestick. My room is nice. I sleep poorly, dreaming of Alex building a pipe bomb at school and me getting brought to justice for being a conspirator.

Morning. David arrives. Amazing human being. Makes us pancakes (awesome!). Afterwards we bike (that's right, bike) to Amoeba Records. Two things are important here. First, I haven't ridden a bike in ten years. Second, there are about a million cars on the road (give or take 950,000). No helmet. Sandals. Terrified. At one point we cross a busy intersection and I get marooned on the other side. Ryan and David ride out into traffic, halt cars, and rescue me. None of us died. I am pumped.

We bought an embarrassing amount of records.

David makes us a fantastic lunch and we're ready to press on. We're all really gross from sweating. Really gross. Tour gross. Back in the car.

Location: An attic in LA
Date: 07.23.07

Day five of our LA adventure. This town is something else. Ryan and I went out for coffee and stumbled into quite another situation. As we sat down to write and read respectively, it came to our attention that we were going to have to keep it down... as they were shooting a game show in the middle of the coffee shop. Sure enough, ten minutes later there was video equipment being set up, and a pair of actors rehearsing their lines. The show was called Gender Challenge--where popular myths about African American culture were brought to light. Today's topic: Real or fake: weaves, extensions, wigs. Are they in or out? Both men and women of the African American community would proceed to comment on their feelings. LA is fucking weird.

I have recently reached the pinnacle of my tour experience. It came a few days ago around dusk. My second story bedroom overlooks beautiful palm trees and other gorgeous homes. I know this because outside my room is a balcony with a wicker chair. It is breezy and lavished by shade. I've spent the better part of the past week reading on this beautiful balcony. My feet up while Thus Spoke Zarathustra and a bowl full of cinnamon Frosted Mini-Wheats keep me company. Tour-cation is incredible.

Last night we played a killer show at the Westside Eclectic. Our improv moments were tight, our acting on point, and our friend Dave and his lady friend came out to see us. We played Double Dutch out on the 3rd Street Promenade as a ruse for our fliering campaign. It worked splendidly. Too splendidly. Within minutes, fifty people surrounded us. We were a spectacle. Trouble is, we were a family friendly spectacle. As we handed out fliers, it became apparent that our audience was made up almost solely of parents. This presented a problem for our adult-oriented material. After handing out over a hundred fliers, we proudly returned to our venue.

At show time, we had sold three tickets... including our generous host and his lady. That's some LA-ass shit. Bummer. What makes things more complicated is that we had to rent the theatre, a meager $150.00 a night. Three patrons, at five dollars a ticket, we made... I suck at math. Fortunately, I learned the following lesson: When fliering for a show in LA, promise audience members an audition, or at least some type of network hobnobbing in addition to a kick-ass live sketch comedy show.

On the bright side, we might be able to make our money back hustling at bumper pool. There's one in the attic where Tim and Alex are staying and we've been staying. And, instead of going stir-crazy sitting around all day, we're training for the bumper pool Olympics (or equivalent). No shit, we're all getting good. Look out LA.

Plus, this is the best I've ever eaten on tour. Between the kindness of Missy and her husband, the culinary expertise of Dave (our host), Alex's ability to fry anything with extra virgin olive oil, and my willingness to put miscellaneous ingredients together, there's no stopping us.

Location: Phoenix, AZ
Date: 07.27.07

I only have a moment before we leave. We're staying with 2/5s of Mail Order Bride, and basically living in a pool. Leaving for the Grand Canyon now, and bagels quickly beforehand. Jumped on a bill last night with the Light Rail Pirates, Mail Order Bride, Disorganized Chaos, and a great MC. Modified Arts is an amazing space. Phoenix is lucky to have it. It's 8AM, bringing my total sleep for the past three days to just under fifteen hours. Last night we stayed with Mack of Apollo 12, and he was the only member of his group to show up. Bad times. Mail Order Bride is the best thing we've seen so far; two great longform monoscenes about a dead kitty and guys trying to get laid, respectively. Ruling. Note: in AZ, it's a good idea to bring popsicles to your audience after an hour of comedy in hundred degree heat. MOB understands this principle. Anyhow, I'm keeping everybody.

Location: Salt Lake City
Date: 07.31.07

This town has been excellent to us. Our host, Sina, is easily one of the most generous, helpful, and talented people we've met so far. We're crashing in his basement and living like kings.

This city is beautiful. There is a ski resort in our backyard. It blows my stupid mind. I'm not really a landscape guy, but this place is legit.

We've done two shows at a place called Mo's Tavern. The audience outnumbered us both nights, and according to our math, that's a good show. Plus, we got bar tabs. Bar tabs! It totally makes me feel like a celebrity. With this ticket to paradise, we bought veggie burgers and garlic bread. We are squares.

Tomorrow is a day off, and I fully intend to spend it reading. If I had to sum up tour using a series of phrases they would be as follows: wanton hydration, copious reading, vigorous comedy, and perpetual sweating. These are my tour assessments. During one of the copious reading sessions, we found ourselves at a used bookstore in Phoenix. It would probably be more impressive if I could remember the name of the place, but everything gets blurry on tour, so we're going to have to make it through this one together. Anyhow, we'd been in this bookstore--which by the way had a woman carrying a real, live owl in the backroom-- for about an hour when I started to get bored. Despite the music, action figure, and video game sections, my attention span had run its course. They had none of the Aaron Sorkin plays I was looking for, and thus was of no use to me. However, while in the theater section, I found the play Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which had been recommended to me on several different occasions. It seemed appropriate that I should read something other than Nietzsche, so I bought it. Sitting down to read it while I waited for my friends, I started plowing through the rapid-fire dialog at an alarming rate. The parts about the "Questions Game" and the quarter that keeps coming up heads were most fascinating. Having never read Hamlet, the bulk of the plot was lost on me. As time wore on, I found that I was substantially through the book. It dawned on me that I might be able to finish the book (albeit a play with about fifty words on each page) in the store I bought it in. A silly plan then occurred to me. What if I were to buy a book, read it in under an hour, and sell it back to the store. How much money would I lose? What a tremendous tour story this would make.


I guess.

I finished it, and went to the counter to sell it back. A conversational transcript is included.

Me: I would like to sell this book to you. I have a receipt.

Clerk: You just bought this book.

Me: Yeah, I read it.

Clerk: Just now?

Me: Just now.

Clerk: Why do you want to sell it back? You can just return it. It hasn't even left the store.

Me: I know, but I feel like I got my money's worth.

Clerk: Dude, return the book. Go over there (points to a register) and return the book.

I put $4.86 in my pocket and feel like I kick ass. Everyone else is relieved that they no longer have to sit around. Still, I have to imagine we're the squarest touring group of all times. We eat vegetables, drink water, and read. That's pretty much our lives. Though I have to admit, it has a certain charm to it that I'm quite taken with.

Things to remember from SLC:

1. Our uniforms take on a new and strange irony here.

2. Bars here charge membership fees. Odd.

3. Sina and his righteously helpful demeanor.

4. Place where I saw the Simpsons movie for the first time. Kevin says I have a "notable" (read: ridiculous) laugh.

Location: SLC
Date: 08.01.07

Yesterday was a day off; it went as follows.

9:00 AM- Sleeping.

10:00AM- Sleeping.

11:00AM- Continued Sleep.

12:00PM- Slow stirring.

1:00PM- Full consciousness.

2:00PM- Internet Noodling.

3:00PM- Lunch at Olive Garden.

5:00PM- Frisbee Golf at Creekside Park Disc Golf course.

6:00PM- Alex receives southern hospitality from a golfing gentleman who provides him with a free disc golf driving disc for his hucking prowess.

7:00PM- Return to Sina's house for rest and playtime with Teddy, the toy poodle that bears a striking resemblance to a teddy bear.

8:00PM- Dinner at Megan's house. She and Alex made New Year's Tacos that were especially delicious.

9:00PM- Dessert. Ice cream and blackberries, my favorite dessert.

10:00PM- Planet Earth, the "Jungles" episode. We marvel as ants turn into sci-fi zombie aliens.

11:00PM- Goodbyes and closing chatters.

12:00AM- South Park, and Ping Pong.

Note to self: Make perpetual touring a lifelong pursuit.

Location: Leaving SLC
Date: 08.02.07

8:00AM- Walla Walla bound. Hell yeah.

Location: Spokane, WA 4:23AM
Date: 08.05.07

I had a conversation tonight that both lifted my spirits and made me feel like I should rethink my life.

Also, I did karaoke for the first time. Epic fail. Ryan and I did "Nuthin' But a G-Thing".

Location: Portland, OR
Date: 08.10.07

We've been blowing though cities so my memories are rather blurry. One, however, stands out rather obtrusively: The San Juan islands. A friend of ours summers there and we were fortunate enough to crash with her and a house worth of Reno kids. I felt like we were in Reno, that is until I walked outside and saw the Kingdom of God. There were trees, an ocean, and the most beautiful sight of all, blackberry bushes as far as the eye could see. I ate an embarrassing amount of blackberries. At the going market rate, I estimate around $60 dollars worth of delicious berries. I am a happy puppy. Before heading out, we laid on the beach and I finished Camus' The Rebel. Lopez Island is the death of productivity. If I spent more than a day there, I would lay out on the beach, read books in the shade, and never do anything else.

Last night we played at a place called the Voyeur Cafe in Olympia. The show opened with Lo of Nobody Beats, who has a voice that would make angels feel like $50 prostitutes. Ryan and I were defeated by it. The food there was unreal. Root beer on tap, garlic everywhere, and so much fresh basil...there was a lot of fresh basil is I guess what I'm driving at.

This entry sucks by the way. Normally I try to have some sort of narrative structure, but I'm totally blowing it.

In summation, tour consists of the following. We clear our plates. We play shows. We meet great people. We leave them the next day. We drink water. We read books. We stay up late (some of us). We get up early (some of us). We eat in the car when we're bored. We love what we do.