‘A funny thing happened on the way to …’ is an unscripted travel comedy series in development. It is a hybrid of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, Seinfeld’s Comedian’s in Cars getting Coffee, and The Last Comic Standing. The series will be hosted by crotchety and neurotic comedian / club owner Rick Bronson.
Bronson, whose spotlight as a successful performer on stage has long since dimmed (much to his chagrin), is now in his own words, “the dreaded club owner.” With thriving operations in Edmonton, Phoenix and Minneapolis, and a fourth on the way in New Jersey, Bronson is intent on growing his comedy empire and cementing his legacy by discovering and grooming that next breakout comic star. Rick is continually on the road “schlepping his tuchus” from one town to the next, on the lookout for that undiscovered and rare diamond in the rough. However, his travel odysseys are definitely not solo treks. Relying on his trusty rolodex of Hollywood headliners, Bronson shrewdly enlists the help of well-known comics (synonymous with the particular destination he visits) as a home-grown travel guide. They scour local clubs and makeshift comedy venues, gathering intel from local insiders, as they hunt for that obscure open mic’er with untapped star potential.
Along the way, Bronson and his ‘A-list’ companions invariably veer off this challenging quest and venture off the beaten path into quirky eateries and hangouts, idiosyncratic landmarks, and encounters with regional peculiarities and personalities. In the course of uncovering these underground attractions and eccentric characters, we will get unique insight into the ‘A-lister’s’ backstory. We’ll access their perspective on what makes their hometown noteworthy, get an opportunity to see them perform, and witness them and Rick pay it forward by giving an up-and-coming comic a chance. ‘A funny thing happened on the way to …’ will deliver a distinct postcard of a destination from a comedic perspective.
When it comes to making a hybrid of comedy and travel, Rick Bronson is truly a pioneer. Almost two decades ago in 2001, Rick conceived and starred in the cult travel adventure show “The Tourist.” This was nearly five years before Anthony Bourdain came on the scene and travel shows at the time consisted of long panoramic shots and stilted larger-than-life voice-overs. Bronson, conversely, felt the best way to learn about a place was to get down and dirty and let the interesting characters that live in a place tell their stories and share their experiences. Rick would hang out with locals, experience community oddities and activities, sample local fair, and offer up his own brand of travel tips. Flash-forward 17 years; the club owner might have more miles on his odometer, but his passion for traveling has only amplified and his love of comedy, and comics in particular, is undeniably infectious. Now, in his ongoing expedition to find young comic talent, he has been able to combine his desire for travel and adventure with his reverence for the comic craft. This is not to say that his journeys will not be met with various obstacles and challenges. Rick suffers from Crohn’s disease and is notoriously compulsive, crabby, and short fused – also, he does not suffer fools lightly! As the caustic club-owner asserts:
“We comedians are generally an insufferable, self-absorbed lot, filled with a mix of self-loathing, neurosis, insecurities, ego, narcissism, jealously, moodiness, irritability, anxiety, laziness, bitterness, and insecurity … the ideal travel companion. Following me and my big-shot buddies on our voyages to find new comic talent will be a combination of hilarity and horror!”
Some of the potential destinations and comics featured in season 1 will be Minneapolis with Louie Anderson and Maria Bamford, St. Louis with Kathleen Madigan and the Sklar Brothers, Boston with Bill Burr and Mike Birbiglia, Philadelphia with Jimmy Shubert and Todd Glass, New York with Dave Attell, Pete Davidson and Hannibal Buress, Los Angeles with Paul Mooney and Al Madrigal, London with Jimmy Carr, Perth with Tim Minchin, and Sydney with Jim Jefferies.