You know that old stand-up-comedy opener: “I just flew in from New York, and boy are my arms tired.”
Sacramento comic Andrew Ouellette can relate – but just with the tired part.
Cruising around the country in a Jeep Commander, Ouellette recently called in from Menominee, Mich., otherwise known as stop No. 34 on the “Biggest Tour Ever EVER.”
The goal for Ouellette and his fellow comedians Morgan Preston, Keith Walker and Billy Anderson: 50 shows, 50 states in 49 days, which would set a Guinness World Record.
The tour reaches Roseville on Saturday and ends in Hawaii on Nov. 30. But on that Michigan morning, Waterloo, Iowa, harkened as the next stop to host some hilarity.
“We should have our tour sponsored by energy drinks at this point,” Ouellette said. “We’re pretty fatigued right now, but we’re moving along. We’re way over halfway to the record. It’s just the downhill stretch.”
This long road of sketchy motels and gas-station food is a familiar one to Ouellette, 29. He and Preston, along with comic Kristine Levine, engaged in a similar bit of “extreme touring” in 2012, logging 50 shows in 50 states in 50 days.
And you thought Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” makes touring life sound trying.
“We went through Hurricane Sandy,” Ouellette said. “I went blind at one point, Morgan lost a tooth. It was a pretty hard-core tour. So we get done with it, we’re really proud of it, and realized there’s no (Guinness) category for comedians – just musicians.”
So in this case, Ouellette and the crew had to pitch Guinness to create a record that’s specific to comedy. They aim to best their 2012 record by one day on the current jaunt, and this time get some official recognition from Guinness.
Sticking to their goal meant booking all the gigs in advance and doubling up shows in some instances to hit their mark.
Sacramento, meanwhile, has gone a little Guinness crazy with Sacramento Kings Fans setting the official world record for “loudest crowd roar at an indoor sports stadium” last Friday. In Auburn, brewery owner Alfred Lee is trying to set a Guinness World Record for “most handcrafted microbrewed beers brewed on premises by a single master brewer and served on tap.”
Ouellette and company are setting the bar for other comics who are convinced that endless stretches of highway won’t kill their sense of humor. Home for the most part has been that Jeep Commander, which holds the three comics plus a tour manager and an Akita dog named Tugg.
They kicked off the tour Oct. 13 in Seattle and have since traveled across the country. Thirteen-hour drives between gigs are the norm. Time and place can become surreal as the odometer numbers turn.
“It all starts bleeding together,” Ouellette said. “What day is it? Monday? What state am I in? Who am I? Who are you? It’s that kind of thing.
“In some cases we’re doing two shows a night, then rushing to the next state,” he added. “It’s guerrilla-style comedy. The driving will test your mettle, definitely.”
These comedians aren’t taking the easy route with their shows, either. Each lasts about 90 minutes, which includes monologues and a go-with-the-flow kind of sensibility. Ouellette channels a bit of Joe Rogan in his act, with bluntly delivered witticisms on drinking, rocky mountain oysters and his own weight gain.
“We have an act that changes from night to night, situation to situation, and we improv, too,” Ouellette said.
“Morgan’s got a theater background. At one point, he was a juggler who juggled knives on fire and machetes. I’m a writer. We definitely put a lot of thought into our act.”
Roseville will mark an extra-special stop for the troupe. For starters, they’ll be in the single digits for shows left on the tour. The area is also a fairly new home for Ouellette, who moved here seven months ago from Seattle. His fellow road dogs still live in Washington.
“I love this place,” said Ouellette about Sacramento. “The comedy scene in Sacramento is a very good and vibrant one.
“I wanted to make it part of the tour and it’ll be one of the bigger shows we’re doing.”
After the tour winds up in Hawaii, they’ll enjoy some much-earned rest and relaxation. And how else will they celebrate?
With another national tour, of course – but with the Guinness seal of approval.
“We definitely, probably will take a victory lap around the country, just so we can brag about it,” Ouellette said. “It’s a once in a lifetime record that we’re doing twice now.”