The Beards of Comedy Tour
Four comics. One van. Twelve shows in twelve days. The Beards of Comedy have an ambitious start to their 2011. Starting January 19th in Portales, New Mexico and ending January 30th in Seattle, Washington, they will cover nearly 3,000 miles over those twelve days. Not bad for a troupe based in the south.
Rooftop is helping sponsor the tour, and therefore had Nathan Timmel speak with Joe Zimmerman about beards, comedy, and life on the road.
NT: First off, we met in Duluth, Minnesota, years ago, correct?
JZ: Yeah… I think there were two nights to the run; one night in Wausau, Wisconsin, and then Duluth. We may have done a Thursday, but I don’t remember.
NT: Neither do I, really. Good times. You said you just got your first Mac, and are excited. I’ve edited two CDs on my Mac; did you get one to start doing your own production?
JZ: Absolutely. I can do more with video, audio… scriptwriting. And I really want to get into podcasting. Marc Maron’s podcast really got me hooked.
NT: Now, generally when you see a packaged tour—The Pot Smokers of Comedy, the Latin Comics, and so on—you get a series of comics who go up and speak redundantly about the same topics. I’m not sure anyone expects four comics in a row to go up and promote beard humor, so give me a quick rundown for the four different comedic styles of the members of The Beards of Comedy.
JZ: The overall concept is basically that of an indie music tour, because we’re sort of DIY and not always playing traditional comedy venues. That being said, we don’t pride ourselves on alternative comedy or anything. Andy [Sandford] is very smart, quick witted and sarcastic. A lot of good one liner type stuff, if you like Shane Moss type humor, but Andy does have his own voice. Dave [Stone] has got a sort of this “flavor of the South, who hates being from the south,” so he has a very interesting perspective on growing up in Georgia. He’s a people’s favorite, as his material is original and unique, it appeals to people of all gender and race. TJ [Young] is clever; he’s the wordsmith of the group. If you ever have a conversation with TJ he’s bound to throw a bunch of puns at you, which then everyone makes fun of him for, but he’s just about as good as it gets when it comes to wordplay. Me? I’m just a goofy, silly, happy-go-lucky/absent-minded professor type. I always come out and open the show with some banter, then come back later and actually do a set. We all basically try our best to be original, and stay on the intelligent side of the spectrum.
NT: Who dreamed up The Beards of Comedy, and, and I mean this with all due respect, how much marijuana was involved? Did you all get together and decided to grow beards, or did four bearded comics decide to band together as a unit?
JZ: It was more the latter. We were all friends, and three of them already had beards. We were all a part of the Atlanta scene, and about two-and-a-half years ago, I said purely as a joke that they should tour as ‘The Beards of Comedy.’ A few months later, I realized that these were guys I did want to tour with, and that I could probably grow a beard and join them. We didn’t use the name for marketing reasons; we don’t tend to market ourselves to beard groups or anything beard related like that. The name is more a front, and a way to name the tour.
NT: Well, this brings to mind two questions: are there beard related groups you could market to if you wanted to? And when you decided to grow your beard, did the four of you sit down and discuss the different styles of beard you would all represent? Meaning, did one person get assigned ‘The Amish,’ and another ‘The Grizzly Adams,’ and so forth. Do you present your tour as representing four unique, disparate, beard flavors?
JZ: See, that’s a great idea. We really have not capitalized on any beard marketing. Where TJ would be the ‘sweet’ beard, and Dave the ‘angry’ beard.
NT: Like a boy band, where they have the lover, the bad boy… everyone plays a role.
JZ: I almost feel like we should do that, so the people remember us individually, but I believe we’re all almost too self-conscious to actually be labeled like that. I mean, I would be the ‘sexy’ beard probably–*laughs*–and I would be too embarrassed to call myself that.
NT: Now, has the group ever been confused… has anyone ever heard “The Beards of Comedy” and thought, “Oh, this must be a group of women married to gay men?”
JZ: We haven’t been confused as that so much as we’ve had women who have gone on dates with gay men ask to be a part of the group, and we’ve had some of them sit in with us on occasion.
NT: Talk about the tour you’re embarking on; where can people see you this month?
JZ: This is our West Coast Tour, January 19th through the 30th. We’re going to be in ten different cities in twelve nights, cool venues with us stuffed into a van in between the shows. Rooftop is kindly helping sponsor us, and we’re hoping to see some of those folks in San Fran.
NT: Are you planning on recording the tour? Either a second CD for the group, or a DVD of shows and the trip; a documentary with comedy as a part of it?
JZ: We’re going to do a daily blog from the van, and a daily podcast from the van. If not daily for the podcast, frequently. We’ll have a journalist from Atlanta Magazine coming along with us and who is going to be writing up an article on us and the tour. Right now we don’t have any plans to record a CD or DVD, but I’d love to. I’d love to record and document what we’re doing, but right now it’s hard coordinating all the travel arrangements without having to think of recording on top of it.
You can find all the tour dates for The Beards of Comedy HERE.