Last year, Monster Energy drinks sponsored a don’t-call-it-a-comeback tour for Andrew “Dice” Clay that coincided with the 1980s comedy icon’s new Showtime series, Dice.
This summer, Tony Hinchcliffe headlines the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour. Hinchcliffe was barely ready for nursery school when the Dice Man first cometh into comedy heights.
But Hinchcliffe, who released his first Netflix hour in 2016, One Shot, and also shone in the first season of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, earned his roasting chops early, growing up in Youngstown, Ohio.
“I used it as a defense mechanism growing up so people would like me or be afraid of me, either one or both,” Hinchcliffe told me last week. “I grew up on one of the toughest streets in one of the toughest cities…By the time I even met Jeff Ross, I’d just always been a roaster. So when I got an opportunity to get in the roast writers room, I just went for it.” Hinchcliffe wrote for the past six Comedy Central Roasts, as well as one of Ross’s roast specials.
“I think it should be a weekly sporting event, every Sunday on Comedy Central. Not just an event but a real sport,” Hinchcliffe said.
Just as long as they wait for Hinchcliffe’s monthlong headlining tour throughout August to end first.
“It is amazing, man. I can’t believe it,” he told me about heading out on this Monster Energy Outbreak Tour. “Putting me on tour and sponsoring me, and it’s just sort of insane, because I’ve never really heard of that before. It’s really cool how they do their marketing. They invest in arts and sports.” Plus: “I get to do all these cities where I have my seeds planted from my podcast.”
That includes Kill Tony, where Hinchcliffe and friends take down open mikers live at The Comedy Store on Monday nights; The Pony Hour, where he sits down with a guest to talk for an hour; and The Store Horsemen, where he and his fellow comedians who are wrestling fans talk about the ring.
I first saw Hinchcliffe performing three years ago in Toronto for JFL42, opening for Joe Rogan. He said touring with Rogan, and before him Ross, helped push his own comedy to get better. “What’s really cool about this tour for me is I’m going back to a lot of the first theaters I’d ever performed in,” he said. And Hinchcliffe hopes to make things fun for his opener, Jeremiah Watkins. “He’s on fire,” Hinchcliffe said of Watkins. “We work together on every Kill Tony, improvising for an hour and a half. Every Monday we Michael Jordan Scottie Pippen it…while the rest of the show is going on, we’re pushing each other to the limits. I think he’s the future. I was telling Jeff Ross I don’t know what Will Ferrell was like before he broke,” but seeing Watkins go nuts as part of The Wave for Roast Battle, rock out with The G-D Comedy Jam, and work with Hinchcliffe in Kill Tony has been amazing.
Kill Tony has “definitely evolved” since its beginnings, Hinchcliffe said. “We used to have a security guard in costume next to the stage under the guise that he’d protect me from the comedians if they got mad at me,” he said. “We replaced him with a band…adding a live band element to that show specifically made that show a thousand times better.”
Upward of 50 aspiring comics sign up, but only six or seven names get chosen out of the bucket, which means they’re even less prepared for what they’re in for when Hinchcliffe and his fellow judges weigh in. Russell Peters and Steve-O joined Hinchcliffe last Monday, and the weekly show has now gotten popular enough to move from the Belly Room to the main stage.
Hinchcliffe hopes this tour takes his solo act to the next level, too.
Tony Hinchcliffe’s “One Shot” is now also available as an album:
Catch Tony Hinchcliffe on The Monster Energy Outbreak Tour (HERE): With opening act Jeremiah Watkins, except in Nashville, where Ralphie May will replace him. Also special guests for some dates on the East Coast.