Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Laugh Strong: Tour De Comedy

I’m not sure if anyone of you know, but last week I rode my bike across the state of Ohio doing shows at each stop. I went with three other comics, Dean Masello, Max Boyajian, and Christian Polanco. It was fun and nuts and something that I look forward to doing again. As this took an awful lot of forethought and planning this was definitely not my doing. My friend Dean called me a couple months back and asked if I wanted to ride my bike across Ohio telling jokes. I said yes, because I didn’t think there was any way I’d actually have to do it. Comics often have weird plans that never come to fruition. I can’t even count the amount of times weirdos at open mics have asked me to rent an RV and tell jokes with them. At first I used to say no. But I’ve since learned that it doesn’t matter. These people are nuts. Chances are they won’t ever show at an open mic again let alone actually show up with an RV and demand you come along. So I’ve gotten in the habit of just saying yes. Turns out Dean is that strange mix of fucking nuts and dedicated that follows through on crazy schemes. When he called a month later to confirm I realized that this was for real. 
Nuts. Fucking nuts.
All the logistics were taken care of by Dean. He came up with the routes. He organized the shows. And he did a bang up job. He called it Laugh Strong: Tour De Comedy. He even got a logo and flyer made for the whole thing. 
This is what that looks like. 
I'm a relatively active rider. I use my bike for commuting when the weather is comfortable. But the prospect of riding across Ohio was a little daunting. I'd like to say I did some training to prepare, but aside from taking a few extra laps around Central Park on my way home from work I didn't do too much to prepare. Luckily I was not the most unprepared so I had plenty of time to rest. 
What a relatively active rider looks like.
So me and my trusty steed, Serenity, loaded up and prepared to ride. I rode the 13 miles out to Dean's apartment in Brooklyn. We loaded our bikes onto Dean's car and we set out. 
I'm pretty sure I saw Rosie O'Donnell on my way to Dean's house. Pretty cool, huh?
On an aluminum horse I ride. 
Dean, Christian, and myself drove out to Cleveland to Dean's brother's house. From there Dean's brother Mike drove us to Cincinnati. The first leg of our journey. We did one show and a group ride in Cincinnati. But since there wasn't a lot of riding to be done we just spent a lot of time dicking around and eating a lot of shitty food. 
Diarrhea is about to get sexy again

Steak n' Shake! The "n" stands for "nom nom nom"
On the last night we went to Go Bananas to watch the show, and we prepared for the following day's ride. 
Whiskey. It's like chain lube for your body.
The first day of riding was in a word, rough. It was a sixty mile trek from Cincinnati to Dayton. I probably wasn't ready to ride my bike that long in 90 degree heat, but Christian almost died. 
How Christian felt

How I felt

Christian and I being passed by a jogger at about mile 57
But it was all worth it, because we made it to Dayton, had a fun show, and got put up in a bitchin' hotel. 

Fun show
The next day we woke up late and rather sore, but ready for more riding. As we were headed to Yellow Springs. I didn't know too much about Yellow Springs. I knew Dave Chapelle lives there and I had heard some things about the college there. Other than that I didn't know too much. It wasn't too bad a ride just about 30 miles. Which after 60 was nothing. The ride was scenic, but pretty warm. We decided that it might be easier if Christian rode my bike. I decided shortly thereafter when it comes to 
my bike I'm a little jealous. 
Make sure to drink plenty of coffee when riding in hot weather

Serenity with a lot of junk in her trunk

The Yellow Springs stop was important for a couple reasons. For starters Max Boyajian, the fourth wheel of our group was being added as he couldn't make it off work for the first couple days. And as it turns out Yellow Springs Ohio is the greatest place on Earth. The owner of the Yellow Springs Brewery met us outside of town and rode us in.
Lisa Wolters (right) owner of Yellow Springs Brewery passing a cherry Mustang

Greatest place on Earth
The show was packed. The crowd was very enthusiastic. And as it turns there are two iportant things about Lisa Wolters and Nate Cornett, owners of the Yellow Springs Brewery. First they make really really good beer. If you at any point in your life come across it in a store or in another bar, do yourself a favor and drink a lot of it. Secondly, they have a very liberal policy when it comes to making sure thirsty travelers get plenty of it. Even though the brewery generally isn't open Mondays they were just for our show and after. For the night we were treated like low level celebrities and it felt pretty goddamned good. I don't know if Max coined this phrase, but he referred to the fine folks at Yellow Springs Brewery as "irresponsibly hospitable." That fits. We left with bellies full of beer and pizza and embarked on a short wobbly ride to our accommodations for the night.
Dark and wobbly

After Yellow Springs, all four of us as a group were off. This time to Columbus. It was a nice and scenic ride for the most part. However we did see a giant fountain spewing what smelled like shit. I didn't take a picture because I was more worried about not dying due to the smell. The tailwind we had that day was nice until it meant that the shit fountain smell stayed with us for about three miles. After 60 miles we made it to the Ohio state capital, had a sparsely attended ride along, and had a great show at Byrne's Tavern.

Shit fountain (artist's rendition)

If you think your capital loves America as much as Columbus you're mistaken 

State house. I think, I wasn't really paying attention

The person on the ride along

Next stop was Wooster. An odd little town. Very picturesque. We had a beautiful ride through town with some folks from a local bike store, Ride On. I didn't take my camera with me, but let me tell you it was gorgeous. We were told no cursing or mentioning of sex. Which seems like an odd request for most bar shows, but most bars don't have a giant bronze Jesus in the corner staring at you.
If you thought the back of the room was judgey at your show...

Letting our hair down after letting Jesus down
After Wooster we headed to the opposite of it, Kent Ohio. A college town where we performed right before a metal band. We ran into a little bit of rain, but had a great ride and met up with some local comics and the fine folks at Kent Cycle.
The bottom of the sign says "business in rear." I giggled for about 10 miles

A Busch can next to a cornfield. The most American thing I've ever seen


Wall St. Not so special now, are you New York?

The rain made Serenity a dirty girl

Very dirty girl

Riding to the show

Me, looking none too pleased that Dean is passing me

Apple Jacks 2013. We eat what we like!

After Kent we were in the home stretch. It was a quick, but very wet ride to Cleveland which we ended at the very pretty Brandywine Falls. Dean forgot his rain gear, but luckily I brought a cheap Detroit Tigers poncho for him to wear.
Masello reluctantly rocking the poncho

Looking as cool as I can in a ladies raincoat
Cleveland was our last stop. Didn't do a whole lot of riding, but had a lot of fun there. We had a power outage at our first venue. Somehow was able to line up another one, have everyone meet up there, and have a great show at a place called Speakeasy. We spent the 48 hours in Cleveland replenishing the whiskey that our bodies were needing. We finished with our largest show. A hundred plus of some of the rowdiest middle aged folks this side of the Mississippi. 

All in all the whole Laugh Strong: Tour De Comedy experience was awesome. I can't thank Dean enough for all the hard work he put into it. And I really hope I get to do it again next year. This took a lot longer than I thought it would so I've decided not to proofread it even a little bit. I hope you understand.

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