It’s standing room only. The sounds of multilingual banter and the clinking of change fill the air-and then the laughter begins. But this isn’t some hip new comedy club. This is the Downtown Waterfront Shuttle, as driven by Jim Eaton.
A Santa Barbara native, Eaton entertains multitudes of tourists and locals as he chauffeurs them up and down State Street and along Cabrillo Boulevard. Personally greeting every passenger who boards the fully electric, open-air shuttle, Eaton offers improvised jokes, a prewritten repertoire, and tourism advice to his semi-captive audience.
On a sunny day, the ride provides a cool breeze, blue skies, and a chance to slow down and take in the sights Santa Barbara has to offer. If Eaton is driving, it also gives you a chance to laugh.
Eaton’s blue-collar material is clean and consists mainly of jokes about his being overweight and a bus driver. He describes himself as a “regular Joe that’s a comic.”
The shuttle itself is a kind of golf cart on steroids. The ride is smooth and quiet, and there are multiple open windows to allow for the full effect of the ocean air. There are two shuttle lines, one that runs up State Street, beginning at Sola Street, and another that runs along the waterfront from the harbor to the zoo. The State Street line picks up every 10 minutes while the Waterfront line picks up every 30 minutes. Both lines only cost a quarter to ride. Each shuttle is equipped to fit 27 people at maximum capacity.
Along with his shuttle act, Eaton performs with a group of local comedians each week-on Thursday at Bricks Cafe, on Friday at Rocks, and on Saturday at Isla Vista’s Embarcadero Hall.