Zane Lamprey is living the dream: traveling all over the country with his two best friends, Steve McKenna and Marc Ryan, and doing live music and stand-up comedy acts every other night. And he gets to drink. Yes, as part of his job.
Lamprey has secured a fan base that not only follows his globe-trotting antics but also learns about the culture, people, and drinks of each region he visits. Widely known for hosting the show Three Sheets, Lamprey also hosts the 24-episode travelogue Drinking Made Easy, which premiered on October 6. He is arguably one of the most enthusiastic alcohol experts, with a book to boot: Three Sheets: 6 Continents, 15 Countries, 190 drinks and 1 Mean Hangover hit the shelves in March 2010.
Lamprey was able to speak to The Independent while in Portland for his “Sing the Booze” tour, which debuts his upcoming album of drinking songs. This tour runs from October 20 to November 29 and will stop at 30 cities nationwide — and he’ll be in Ventura on November 20. “My stage show is filled with completely satirical songs about drinking,” Lamprey explained. “I mean, having a love affair with beer is not really feasible … And I think it may actually be illegal in most states.”
What’s this about your comedy tour, “Sing the Booze,” being one big drinking game?
Every single show is unique. But there are rules for the drinking game and sometimes new ones are added. I have a monkey named Pleepleus, he’s like my little mascot. When you see him, you have to drink. When I was traveling internationally, I learned the German sign for “good burp,” which is putting your thumb on your forehead and your pinky in the air, kind of like the “hang loose” sign. The last person to do that when someone else burps, has to drink.
But if you’re drinking … has it gotten out of control? Have you ever pre-drank too much or too early? How does that change your show?
Oh yeah. I’ve gotten to be a pretty good wrangler of being inebriated. But that makes it way more fun for the audience and for us. Comically, we have an outline, but most times we seem to get off track. It’s for the good of the show. It makes it funnier. We’re not stand-up comedians by trade, but we know how to put on a good show. We keep it real with an intimate feel, and that’s what the audience wants. The more I drink, the funnier I am to the audience — the show gets naturally better as the night goes on.
What’s that like, “having” to drink for work? Has that changed drinking for you at all?
When I was doing Three Sheets, it got to the point where it was like, another day, another drink. I was with my crew, we were great friends, but I was the one in front of the camera and I was the one drinking. Don’t get me wrong, the crew definitely got to have their tastes of the culture, too. It was a great show, but it was a different experience than with Drinking Made Easy because I’m doing it with my two closest friends. So that’s a great adventure. It’s more work, we had 50 live shows that summer (also called “Drinking Made Easy”) and shot 24 episodes over the course of 87 days.
So it was like an 87-day-long party?
Yeah, kind of. We would have to go to three different locations. We couldn’t drink [too much] because we had to be able to conduct interviews at the next location every day.
Did you ever have problems with hangovers and not being to work?
[Laughs.] It happens. We’re still trying to figure out the hangover cure. The only problem with all this drinking is a significant amount of weight gain!
In your travels, has any town or country stuck out from the rest, in terms of drinking culture or types of drink?
Every city is really unique in that we’ve found something that we didn’t expect to find. But it’s more interesting drinks and not really customs. With Drinking Made Easy, traveling around [the U.S.] is fun because we share English as our common language. When you’re going from Los Angeles to Phoenix to Atlanta to Boston and Milwaukee, the heart of the drinking culture is the same, but the way you drink and what you drink is what’s different. For example, there’s this Norwegian drink, Malört, that everyone in Chicago knows about and drinks, but we haven’t. We always found what drinks and places to experience by talking to local bartenders.
So what’s next on your agenda?
No idea. We didn’t expect this to come so far. But there’s always hope for another season, another tour. I’m finishing my album. There’s always something. Gotta keep the machine going, keep people drinking!
Zane Lamprey brings his music and comedy to the Majestic Ventura Theater on Saturday, November 20. See venturatheater.net or call (805) 653-0118 for tickets. Visit zanelamprey.com between now and the end of tour to download Zane Lamprey’s music for free.