Comedians tour with Opie & Anthony, take two

Opie & Anthony prepared to return from yet another radio exile, right on the eve of launching their second annual summer comedy tour. Good timing, eh? XM satellite radio’s month-long suspension ended this morning, and the K-Rock jocks get to celebrate tomorrow when the second annual
"Opie & Anthony’s Traveling Virus" tour kicks off at Jones Beach.

"The timing is
interesting," Gregg (Opie) Hughes told me. "So yeah, they
might be excited to see us."

Fans will hear plenty of free
speech, too, from comedians Louis CK, Frank Caliendo, Robert Kelly, Stephen
Lynch, Otto & George, Patrice Oneal, Bob Saget, Rich Vos and O&A
sidekick Jim Norton (7 p.m. tomorrow, $26-$70 via Ticketmaster). The seven-city
tour visits Mohegan Sun later this month and Holmdel, N.J., in August.

"I think they’re going to be
very festive because they can see everyone in a free atmosphere," Oneal
said. "Plus, it’s the first live thing after all the bull-, so people can
just take a breath and enjoy themselves."

The showcase also features an
Ozzfest-style village of merchants, artists and crazies to go along with the

"And that doesn’t count the
tailgating that happens before," Hughes said.

Last year, the jocks weren’t sure
what to expect on tour. "We didn’t know if fans would have the patience to
sit through eight to nine comics," Hughes said. "But there were times
when you could hear a pin drop because the audience was waiting to hear the
next joke."

Some crowds, though, got a little
too into the act. In Philadelphia, the audience booed Bill Burr so relentlessly
that he turned on the crowd with a hilarious rant against that city’s heroes, a
performance which became a YouTube hit in comedy circles. Burr, who appears on
"Letterman" tonight, is passing up this tour, saying, "I earned
my Purple Heart" the last go-round.

"There’s nothing better than
killing in front of that audience and nothing more frightening than bombing in
front of them," Norton said. "They’re loyal fans, but they’re

Kelly said the fans may be rowdy,
but they do know comedy. "They’re familiar with all of us, too, from the
show, which helps."

The lineup has longstanding
relationships with the Opie and Anthony program – something the jocks have
fostered over the years, by inviting comics on a regular basis to hang out,
share their lives and join the airtime shenanigans.

"It’s not just a radio show putting on a comedy show," Cumia
said. "The audience has a vested interest in every comic who is part of
the show. Their crises, their addictions, their vices – the audience knows
these people."

Note: Parts of this report originally appeared in the New York Daily News. More from Patrice Oneal, Robert Kelly and Jim Norton after the jump.

More from Oneal…
"They want to see the people they hear on the radio."
Oneal had recently gotten rapped by the press for comments he’d made —
I believe it was his bit about creating new sexual terms and positions
— that were taken as a slam against women. So he knew what O&A
were going through. Same for Imus. "They can thank you or spank you,"
Oneal said. "Old black people are as confused by hip-hop as old white
people are. Why do black people always have to answer for what another
black person does?" Does he have to say something about the Beltway snipers from years ago? What about Flavor Flav?

More from Kelly…
Why do comedians like guesting on O&A? "The thing they allow you to do is be yourself. You’re not creating a character. You’re not ‘this guy.’ You’re yourself. And then they (listeners) come to see your show and maybe they think your funny. O&A, it’s definitely an asset. But nobody’s there because they have to be. Everybody’s there because they want to be. It’s a hang. When you go on the show, it’s hanging out. It’s not telling jokes from your set. You sit down and just talk, and it goes where it goes. That’s the best part."

More from Norton…
"Stand-up is a great f*cking First Amendment platform, anyhow. It’s the freest place you can be when you’re doing it right. If we’re not using it, we’re wasting time."
"That’s part of the attraction of live stand-up, is a guy up there talking, in the moment, especially when something horrible can happen."
On working with O&A: "I feel creatively free with them…They’re not making any stupid moral judgments. It’s just, am I funny or not?"

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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