When a comedian tells you they’re going on the road, you assume that they’ll be spending countless hours cramped in a Honda Civic downing 5-Hour Energy shots and eating gas station tuna fish sandwiches. But New York City comedian Jessica Watkins is touring the United States in a whole different way: by foot. Watkins, who, in March, quit her job as a waitress, recently began a 2,947-mile walk across country. She started her journey in Lewes, DE after camping out on the beach and will end her trek in Oceanside, CA.
The city girl, originally from East Nashville TN, is going out of her comfort zone setting up a tent wherever her sore feet take her. “My biggest hiking accomplishment at this point is just walking in New York a lot,” Watkins tells Laughspin. She’s spent the last couple of months studying YouTube videos and practicing her tent-building skills in the calmer sections of Brooklyn. The comedian used the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com to raise over $15,000 towards buying proper camping equipment. But the majority of the funds will go towards a unique “crowdfilmed” documentary about her project. The plan is to collaborate with different filmmakers along the way, who will contribute to her documentary, titled Burning Daylight. The end result will be her first comedy special, filled with material inspired by her travels. “I feel like it’s going to be a very unique experience and something I want to capture, kind of my ‘coming of age’ tale.” Much of the money has gone towards a new camera and editing costs.
After a little over five years of performing stand-up comedy in New York, she hopes that this walk will help her find that ever-elusive “comedic voice.” She will meet many other voices across the country in the process, including ones she might not agree with. “In my stand-up, I feel like there’s a natural political edge that’s there and I really want to find what that voice is for me.” She shared that she’s worried about her interactions with more conservative portions of the United States, but that she welcomes the potential clash of opinions. “Part of that will just be about talking to people and learning where they get their information and learning their perspective on our political system. It’s something that I want to capture.” You can follow Watkins and her journey on Twitter @aJessicaWalking and Instagram with the hashtag #JessicaWalking. If you want to check her performance dates and see if she’ll be walking through a city near you, visit her website. For now, check out the video below to learn more about Jessica Watkins’ plans for Burning Daylight.