On the heels of the enormous success of last year’s Opie and Anthony’s Traveling Virus tour, Gregg “Opie” Hughes, Anthony Cumia and their third mic master, stand-up Jim Norton, will be back this summer to spread the virus in the form of this year’s biggest stand-up comedy tour.
Joining them onstage at each show will be eight to nine-comics, each a friend of the Opie and Anthony radio show. Performers will include Lewis Black, Bob Saget, Stephen Lynch, Carlos Mencia, Louis CK, Bob Kelly and many more. Presented much like an Ozzfest meets R-rated carnival meets freak show, comedy fans should expect to do much more than just laugh.
For further explanation, check out what Opie and Anthony had to say recently when they chatted with Punchline Magazine.
Even though this is your second year doing this, no one else, surprisingly, has hopped on the huge-comedy-tour bandwagon. Why do a tour like this in the first place?
OPIE: A lot of our comedian friends have been doing the show for many, many years. And we thought it was good enough to have them on our show and have them get a little exposure for themselves. But all of a sudden there was some chatter with these guys that they wanted to start getting paid. Well, fuck that, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not paying them. So we came up with this idea where we can use them a little more, and they could finally get a payday out of it.
ANTHONY: Another thing is that a lot of radio shows have their listeners but we consider our listeners to be unique. It would be very hard I think for another show to put something like this together and get the impassioned results we do with our crowd. Our listeners are fucking animals. They pretty much turn this thing into a rock event – the tailgating in the parking lots and standing on chairs. It’s just an amazing thing to see. And one of the reasons we put it together is that we have the type of audience that’s really conducive to a show like this.
OPIE: And it’s a good chance for the comedians to showcase their talents in front of a much bigger audience than they’re used to for the most part. The fans completely appreciate what they bring to the show and appreciate their stand-up. It’s a well-behaved crowd. In some cities, we’re doing this in front of 10,000 people, and at times you could hear a pin drop because the audience is really listening to what the comedian is doing up there. It’s unbelievable.
Our radio show’s a lot different too because when comedians come in, its more of a conversation. We pick comedians that are funny. You might say to yourself, Well aren’t all comedians funny? No, absolutely not. They have a funny act, but they’re not funny people. When we go about looking for who we’re going to bring on the show, we look for comedians who are actually funny people, who could be funny in any situation. We hate the comedians who come on the show and we have to set them up with, “I heard you flew in from Vegas” and that leads into a 10-minute Vegas bit. We hate that shit. We’d rather have comedians come on, throw their act out the door and just be funny with us.
Also, we allow these guys to be in the spotlight on our show. A lot of other radio shows are too scared to let anybody else get a bigger laugh than the hosts. We don’t give a shit on our show. We take pleasure in the fact that a Patrice O’Neal, or a Bill Burr or a Bob Kelly can come in and be the funniest guy on the radio that day. We’re fine with that. It seems like an obvious thing, but a lot of radio shows are too insecure to allow that to happen.
Especially now, there’s a lot of politics and a lot of comics calling each other out in the national comedy scene. But you guys are OK having everyone from Larry the Cable Guy to Carlos Mencia, Brian Regan, Dane Cook, Rich Vos and more. A lot of these guys wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be welcomed on the same radio show.
ANTHONY: We’re just hoping that one of them shoots another one of them on our show.
So it has nothing to do with you liking these guys. You just want something bad to happen live on air?
ANTHONY: Exactly! We want something to happen. It happens in the hip-hop community all the time. We want to be the first people to make it happen in the comedy community.
OPIE: Where there’s laughing going on in the middle of the shooting. How great would that be?
ANTHONY: Comics have their own beef with each other. But it doesn’t really come into play as far as the show’s concerned. If a comic could just come in and hang with our show and bullshit about whatever, that’s cool. And if another one can but, say, these two don’t get along, then obviously we’re not going to throw them on the same show so they could battle it — unless they want to. For the most part, it doesn’t change what we do as far as bringing comics on if a few of them don’t get along. Comedians are all fucking psychopathic assholes anyway.
OPIE: ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why it’s great to tell them to throw their acts out the window. ‘Cause then you’re going to get some really dark, funny stuff. And we like all sorts of comedy. Some people would be surprised to hear that we do love a Brian Regan or other very clean comics on our show. But it’s all about being funny. We don’t care if its dirty funny, clean funny or anything in between. We just love funny guys.
What’s the most difficult part about putting on a live show of this magnitude?
ANTHONY: We got some great people behind us that are doing the real heavy lifting.
OPIE: Yeah, we’re in some creative meetings trying to come up with things we could do in between the comedians. Or what we want to do in the O&A Village but for the most part we’re in really good hands. We have guys that know how to put on shows.
ANTHONY: I mean obviously, you want to keep things moving. If you get a dead spot during the show, the audience might get restless so you have to have good people behind the scenes that’ll keep things moving along.
Last year, you had a lot of things going on beyond the live stage show — lots of fun and games for the fans to get into in the village, like strippers on stage, crazy videos during the show. What can we expect this year?
OPIE: We’re still trying to figure out some things to do on the stage and things in the village. This year we’re hopefully doing a video confessional booth. We’re going to have people before the show just going in and admitting crazy shit and then hopefully cut that together real fast and play it on the big screen while people file into the venue. And we got the drunk-clown dunking booth, where the guy’s just completely obnoxious.
We’re going to have some great, animated videos that are going to have something to do with the radio show. We tested some out in Vegas, and they went over really well. So we’re going to play those on stage as well.
ANTHONY: We’re looking to do a second-stage karaoke thing, like an open-mic thing where people could sing and degrade themselves in front of a crowd that will do nothing but berate them.
OPIE: We like to get the listeners involved. So the listeners or the pests, who are the real hard-core fans, we give them a booth in the village to do whatever the hell they want. That was a nice surprise last year. So we’re still waiting to see what they’re going to do this year. A lot of times we just make things up as we go along. And it just works.
When we did the show in Cleveland last year, we had some cash to give away. So we did a fatty-pig-fatty contest live on the state to find the fattest woman there. So we had the fattest woman come up on stage and we would give her a buck a pound. We thought that maybe we’d get one brave woman but man, these beasts were marching up the aisles from all directions.
The crowd just went nuts. And we found the winner. I forget how much she weighed, but she was well over 400 pounds. And instead of handing it to her like gentlemen, we threw it up in the air so it went all over the stage and she had to bend down to pick up all the money in front of everyone. We like that sideshow element to the tour.
ANTHONY: There’s a good freak-show element to it. And I think the strippers are back on stage for the audience’s pleasure.
OPIE: We’re hoping to get a few nude fat broads up there.
ANTHONY: Yeah, we need to find fat girls that’ll do a pole dance.
I’m sure you’ll have a few dozen willing to do that.
OPIE: Honestly, we’d like to have some surprises that aren’t in print. Like last year, we dragged Stalker Patty onto the stage [at the Holmdel, N.J. show]. We’re always pulling her chain — wink wink — and so we brought Stalker Patty out onstage, and we wanted to crown her Miss Traveling Virus 2006, and she’s just so gullible for anything.
We had a throne and a tiara and flowers and a sash and we sat her down on the throne and said, “Here’s your Miss Traveling Virus 2006, Stalker Patty.” She was so happy that we were giving her some nice recognition. And that’s when we cued the pig’s blood to fall from about 50 feet above her head just splashing all over her in front of 10,000 people.
Yeah, I gotta say I felt a little bad for her.
OPIE: Well, the funny thing is — and this is why we’re twisted — is that’s the reaction we were going for. We knew people would laugh cause they’re twisted, but we like to make people cringe as well. We’re looking for the I-feel-bad-for-her reaction.
Is there a city you’re looking forward to most this year?
OPIE: Going back to Camden is going to be very interesting because thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where the now legendary Bill Burr performance happened, where a couple minutes into his act, the crowd started booing, not because he was doing a bad job, just because they were in that type of mood down there. They fucked with two comedians before that and just destroyed them and cut their sets short.
Bill Burr’s like, “Man you ain’t doing that to me.” And he proceeded to use his 15 minutes to just do some of the most amazing improv about Philly and its sports history. It’s on YouTube and has well over a million views, and people are still talking about it. When we mention the Traveling Virus, people bring up the Bill Burr thing. So we’re looking forward to going back to Camden to see what happens this year.
ANTHONY: And Jones Beach, of course. That’s home territory. We’ve seen so many concerts there, so to pop up on the stage will be pretty cool for a Long Island guy.
Anything else you want to tell the kids?
OPIE: We can’t wait to hit your city with this tour.
ANTHONY: It’s gonna be a blast.