Looking back at the IHTSBIH Tour, Part 1 of 2

A big incentive for me going on tour was that it would force me to finally learn Final Cut Pro and become an expert with high-end cameras.  Or as I put it in an earlier post, I was going to get paid to earn a film school-level education.  Well, I’m finally proficient in Final Cut Pro and I absolutely love it.  If anything, this tour confirmed what I already knew: editing video is one of my favorite hobbies, and it’s something I’d love to continue doing for the rest of my career.  Now I just need to figure out what the next step is to increase my efficiency (I’m still not as fast as I’d like to be).  [Note: Check out the first and last videos I made if you want to see how much my style changed over the course of the trip  -> Seattle (first) vs. San Francisco (last)]

I have a ton of stories I could tell, but Tucker wrote down his account of a good chunk of them.  So here are a few of my highlights / random thoughts from the tour:

  • Some of my favorite exchanges from our travelogue videos:
  • I’ll forever love Heineken because of Shandrika!  (Athens video – 0:51)
  • When Bill spontaneously starts laughing after asking a guy what planet he’s from (Chicago video – 0:15)
  • Bill: “Are you racist, sir?”  Guy: “Absolutely not.”  Bill: “…Do you want to be?” (Bloomington video – 1:13 – Warning: more offensive than usual)
  • Seattle and Boston were my two favorite cities, and I could see myself moving to either one someday.
  • At the beginning of the tour, we thought getting a girl to eat a page from the book or having a kid jump into a bush was hilarious.  Of course, we kept pushing the envelope, and by the end of the tour, we had pepper sprayed a guy, watched a middle-aged woman fellate dildos in front of a cheering crowd, and had a college student offer to make out with a 70-year old male homosexual in exchange for free tickets. Needless to say, I don’t think those early stunts we did are very crazy anymore.
  • The Minneapolis stop was infuriating.  Greg, Bill, and I were going to take a day off, because we’d been working to the point of exhaustion for like 20 straight stops.  Of course, there were two guys protesting Tucker, so we had to film them.
  • In Tempe, a grandma told us that she made sure her daughter induced labor early so she wouldn’t miss the screening.  Wow.
  • Everything about Los Angeles was magical.  The planets must have aligned when we started shooting the pre-show, because every interview Bill did was hilarious.  He met Kenny G, then he had a dance off with Darth Vader, and… actually, just watch the video.
  • One of the coolest things that happened on tour was being bumped from a small theater into the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood (a landmark movie theater with more than 900 seats).  I’m not sure how accurate this is, but we were told that the videos Bill, Greg, and I had been making at each stop were the primary reason the screening was moved to the Cinerama Dome at the L.A. stop.  The best part was before the screening, when the projectionists played all of the videos we’d made in front of an audience filled with fans, porn stars, Hollywood-types, etc.  Up until that point, the only people we’d witnessed reacting to our videos were the tour crew.  So it was pretty incredible to watch hundreds of people laugh at our footage of Dawes, being played on such an enormous screen.

As so many reality show contestants have said before me, I didn’t go on this tour to make friends. Aside from Tucker, Ben Corman, and Chris Griffin, I hadn’t really talked with anyone else before the trip started.  I now consider the entire IHTSBIH crew to be good friends of mine, and as an incredible tribute (VIA BLOG POST!), I would like to say a few words about each of them:

Jace: One of the most effeminate men I’ve ever met.  Jace reinforced this when he joyously proclaimed that he wanted to join me when I was going to get a haircut, but quickly changed his mind after I revealed that I’d be getting it cut at Wal-Mart.  A few days later, Jace scheduled a salon appointment in Tempe.  On the way there, we saw a barbershop with a sign that said “Walk-ins welcome!”  When we pointed it out, he was aghast at the mere suggestion of going to a place that didn’t offer facials or manicures.  All that aside, Jace is surprisingly adept at making dildo necklaces, and even better at having bottles of Frank’s Hot Sauce break and explode all over his face.  I seriously wish I could have witnessed the latter, because the aftermath was hilarious.

Jaimee: How Jaimee was able to tolerate all of us for a month is beyond me.  She’d often ride with Chris in the van overnight, being stared at by his jaundiced eyes and barraged with Canadian-accented innuendo (while ‘Free Bird’ played on repeat the entire time).  Jaimee somehow managed to take all of our ridiculousness in stride.  She retained a sweet demeanor and a moral compass the entire trip, and kept a bus that was overwhelmed with testosterone in check.  She did, however, insist on watching tennis, which was disappointing.

Chris: There were two things Chris never stopped doing on tour – bickering with Jace like they were husband and wife, and dry humping phallic objects.  In spite of Chris’ ability to attract cute girls from time-to-time, he may be the worst wing man on the planet.  This one night, Chris was sitting next to a random girl at a bar in Tempe, when he looked at me with a manic grin and said, “Watch, this girl is going to get so mad at me!”  Chris turned to her, and in less than three seconds, the girl flipped out, started berating Chris, and then stomped off.  “What the hell did you just do?” I asked.  Chris chuckled, “I reached into her purse.”  Bravo, Canada.  To be fair, I was a pretty terrible wing man, as well.  At the same bar, Chris was hitting on a really tall blonde girl, and she was pretty into him.  Suddenly, some random guy wearing a pirate costume walked past us, and I turned to Chris and said, “I can’t believe a pirate and a Viking (pointing to the girl) are in the same bar!”  The girl did an about-face and trudged away, while Chris stood in shock, on the verge of tears.  Sorry, buddy.  I guess I’m lucky you have A POSITIVE ATTITUDE! In all seriousness, Chris had the most miserable and thankless job on tour — driving the van that followed the bus.  And he did it without ever complaining, while I almost had an emotional breakdown the one day I had to drive it.  I salute you, Griffin.  We all look forward to you completing your thoughts on the trip in 2012.

Greg: The guy I spent the most time with on tour, whether he liked it or not.  When he wasn’t on the phone with his girlfriend, Greg was teaching me everything I needed to learn to get to the next level in video.  He also told me exactly what I had suspected – that film school is “absolutely not worth it.”  Greg is a big reason the videos we made were so good.  He’d film Bill Dawes before each show and whisper into his ear to keep going with a bit, or persuade him to say something even more inappropriate than the previous joke.  If you’re in need of a guy who can make a viral internet video, Greg is your man (a few of his videos have several million views).  I would tell a funny story or two about Greg, but he repeatedly made me swear that I wouldn’t write anything ridiculous about him online.  Done and done, sir.

Ben: After each show, Ben and I would pack up the stage equipment together.  And every evening, we’d find ourselves talking about business, marketing, standup comedy, writing, traveling, and life.  Or we’d just make fun of Jace and Chris.  Whatever we talked about, it was always deeper and more introspective than it should have been (considering the tour we were on), and for that, I’m grateful.  Because Ben’s very against self-promotion, I’ll step in and do it for him: Go read BenCorman.com – his fiction, blog posts, everything.  He’s a lot more honest and open about his emotions than most writers, which is probably why he kept getting compliments on tour.  He is apt to flicking out his knife when he’s angry, though – a terrifying yet oddly humorous tic.  Just don’t hover around the guy if you meet him at a bar.

Bill: After every show, Bill and I would go out with the camera and get testimonials from people.  It was my favorite part of each night because Bill would quickly get bored with asking the same questions, and he’d start going off on tangents (e.g. “If this film was a 14-year old girl and she offered you a glass of lemonade, would you still watch it even though you knew Chris Hansen was in the room?”).  One of my favorite memories from the tour was in Bloomington, where Bill, Greg, and I were hanging out with a few girls in Bill’s hotel room.  Bill made a remark about how one of the girls had hair that made her look like a cocker spaniel, then he continued to pound this idea into her head FOR 30 MINUTES.  And it was extremely entertaining the whole time.  Whenever the girl’s self-esteem faltered and she was on the verge of a breakdown, Bill would quickly reel her back in with a minor compliment, then go straight back to making fun of her lack of fashion sense.  That half hour was epic, and it’s one of the many things I wish we had captured on film.  I genuinely hope Bill gets really big someday — he’s a good guy, and he’s probably the funniest person I’ve ever met.

Dave: The main reason nothing went disastrously wrong on tour.  Dave was our personal hero (i.e. the tour manager), and would continually impress me with his attention to detail and business savvy.  What I liked most about Dave, though, was that he didn’t act like he was above menial work.  Almost every night, he’d help me move the heaviest equipment and set up the P.A.  And he’s been doing this stuff for 20 years – he has toured with David Bowie, Motley Crue, Britney Spears, N*Sync, etc.  He also had plenty of very entertaining stories from over the years that I’m probably not allowed to repeat here…

Jeff:  In terms of physical exertion, I don’t think anyone worked harder than Jeff on this tour (here’s a picture of him passed out in a parking lot after a show).  Whenever anything started to go wrong, Jeff was the one who quickly fixed it, even when it was seemingly impossible.  In San Francisco, I idiotically left the camera at the hotel.  And I realized this sitting at the airport, with a half hour before our flight departed for Chicago.  Instead of just over-night shipping the camera, Jeff ran all the way back through airport security, met up with Chris and Jace to grab the camera, bum-rushed back through security (nearly getting arrested in the process), and made it back in time to board the flight.  He handed me the camera, his face pouring sweat, and said, “Why do you insist on making my life miserable?”  The intensity of Jeff’s work ethic and his, um, methods of crowd control (see: choking people out) tend to overshadow the fact that he’s a genuinely good guy, albeit underneath an abrasive exterior.  One of the highlights for me on tour was hanging out with Jeff and his friend Ally in Toronto, joking about Canadian mannerisms while taking a nice break from the daily screenings.  Then again, Jeff constantly mocked me for writing an e-book and was unable to compliment me on it without laughing… So there’s that.

Nils: I thought I’d built up a pretty good tolerance to the type of jokes Nils would tell, which is to say “wildly offensive,” but even at the end of the tour, he’d still manage to shock me.  Not in a bad way – I wasn’t offended; just continually shocked.  He told me a story about how he managed to get kicked out of a “Most Offensive Costume” Halloween party one year because… his costume was too offensive.  The purpose of the party was to offend, and he still managed to cross a line that wasn’t supposed to exist.  That’s Nils’ sense of humor in a nutshell, and it was the reason he got the biggest laughs during the pre- and post-shows, night after night.  There were times where Tucker would walk out of the theater, or hide his face because he was laughing so hard at something inappropriate that Nils had said.  Then after he regained his composure, he’d swear at Nils for coming up with funnier jokes than him.  Anyways, Nils and his wife Jen couldn’t have been nicer to me and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know both of them.

Tucker:  Without a doubt, Tucker is one of the strangest guys I’ve ever met.  There aren’t many people in this world who would be rabidly ecstatic over receiving fellatio on X-Ray video (well, aside from Jeff).  But Tucker was the main reason all of us kept working hard every day.  He gave a brief speech at the beginning of the tour that stuck with us – he told us we were up against enormous odds with a small margin for error, but that if we focused and worked really hard, we might be able to pull it off.  In spite of Tucker’s attempts to make it sound like he was ruining my life on tour, we actually got along really well.  There were several great discussions we had over the course of the trip on relationships, business strategy, and life.  Tucker and I are very different people, but we have one driving belief in common – that most people are too afraid to live the life they truly want.  The polarizing character that Tucker created has turned him into a magnet for the crazy and emotionally unstable.  But the guy is happy, and I don’t think he’d have it any other way.  I genuinely appreciate the fact that he offered me a spot on the tour, knowing that I wanted to improve as a video editor.  It was pretty much an ideal job for me, and I’d gladly do it all over again.

I miss all of you guys, and hope our paths cross again in the near future.

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17 comments on “Looking back at the IHTSBIH Tour, Part 1 of 2

  1. Not a single mention of my oft-underestimated intelligence? Odd.

    Let me know when you start planning your North American e-book tour. You’ll need somebody to drive the van AND I’ve got the perfect theme song.

    “…Lord, I can’t chaaaaaange. Wont you flyyyy hiiiiigh FREEEEEEBOOK yeah.”

  2. Hey man. You really are inspiring others.

    I’m starting to question myself more and more everyday now about the decision I made to start moving away from my school’s traditional path to a career in accounting, and to start carving my own path.

    But it is an honest self-questioning that I never had the balls to ask myself when I was following everyone else.

    Without that self-inquiry, i’d just be setting myself up to “settle” for the easy choices for a long time to come.

    Instead, despite all the doubt, i’ve also gained a strange, deep sense of confidence that i’m pursuing a path that I have chosen.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • I’m finished with all the movie-related work. Not sure if I’ll be involved with editing any of the bonus content for the DVD.

      Right now, I’m making a highlight reel for Bill from the tour footage. Aside from that, a few small side projects, consulting, and two big ventures in the near future — I’ll announce them later :)

      Hope all’s well, Sam!

  3. Hey! I recognize that last picture, I took it at the College Park, MD stop! How’d you find it? I don’t remember posting it elsewhere beyond a Facebook album. Anyway, happy to see it on here.

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