There have been numerous moments in my time here at NileGuide where I just have to laugh at how cool my job is. Speaking with Zane Lamprey, host of the cult drinking/travel show “Three Sheets” and the upcoming “Drinking Made Easy”, for his NileGuide 5 was one of them.
Zane Lamprey travels through drink. With “Three Sheets”, Lamprey visited 50 countries over four seasons, imbibing local tipples in Tanzania, New Zealand, Iceland, and Tahiti, to name a few. His latest show, “Drinking Made Easy”, chronicles the misadventures of him, trusty sidekick Steve McKenna, and veteran comedian Marc Ryan as they traverse the United States on a 53 city comedy tour and sample the local drinks and drinking customs that “have contributed to the birth, growth and distinction of our great country.” He’ll soon be embarking on yet another tour in support of his new album Sing the Booze.
You can read more about Drinking Made Easy here, check out my colleague Zain’s (pronounced differently) coverage of the show, and find out more about Zane and his upcoming endeavors at zanelamprey.com.
Transcribed from a phone conversation on September 30th.
What’s the most underrated destination you’ve been to?
You know, everyone kept talking about Whistler and were like “yea, the skiing’s amazing”, and I thought “you know, I’ve been to a lot of ski resorts, I’m sure that it’s cool” but when I when I actually went up to Whistler, I was like what? Are you kidding me? This place is amazing. The cool thing was that there was no night skiing and you had to come off the mountain at 3 or 4 and all you had to do was go to the bar. Whistler is definitely a competitor for one of the best cities to party in, around the globe.
[Chatting about cities visited on the Drinking Made Easy tour] I was kinda surprised at how amazing all of them were. I really expected Boston, and Philly, and even Atlanta, the bigger cities, LA – I figured those would really have cool opportunities and places for us to explore, but everywhere was great. We had high expectations for Portland – you know, with the whole beer scene.
If there was any surprise, it was how amazing and how unique every single destination we went to was. We really wanted unique experiences, and unique drinks and drinking destinations.
How do you kill time when you’re stuck on a bus or plane?
I don’t think I’ve had down time for maybe three years. I kill downtime by responding to emails on my computer, if there’s no wifi, on my phone. Between this show, the book, the music tour and corresponding album, the Drinking Made Easy website, there’s always something that requires my attention.
It’s so funny how closely my job resembles a vacation, but how much I actually need a vacation. If I was on vacation, I would do exactly the same thing the same way, except I wouldn’t have cameras with me and I wouldn’t be wearing a microphone – I’d even probably be with the same people.
I’m certainly not going to complain – my job is amazing, but it’s sometimes difficult to draw the line between when I’m working and when I’m having fun. It’s just that I’m always working, so I guess I’m always having fun.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or experienced traveling?
I think one of the best was when I was in Milwaukee – we had expectations about the beer scene, but there was this bar called Bad Genie. They serve a shot of rum that has a dead scorpion in it – the scorpion has been soaking in alcohol, so it’s completely clean. I did the shot, I gagged, I almost vomited, I chased it with a beer, and I was like “Wow, that’s horrible. I’m so happy I’ve had that experience… what’s the most anyone’s ever done of these in an evening?” [The bartender said] “we’ve had some crazy guy that did nine.
Well, you know what, I’d be doing a disservice to the viewers if I didn’t break that record. Let’s just say that by the end of the night, I had consumed 23 dead scorpions.
The next day was not one of my easier days.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at a new destination?
It depends on which direction I’m heading in terms of timezones. You mean after I get out the anti-vac and wipe down the phone and the TV remote and the doorknob? That’s probably the first thing I do.
[For Three Sheets], the second thing I do is check out the minibar situation. I wanna know what’s in there, no necessarily for the drinks, but to see whether there are sufficient M&Ms and chips for when I come home after a night of drinking. The next thing I’ll do is check and see if there’s a gym or pool that I can feel guilty for not having visited on my stay. Then I’ll probably get something to eat, or I’ll have to shoot the scene.
With Drinking Made Easy, we had two giant tour buses with 15 people. We’d roll in while we were asleep, the buses would stop and we had to go off and shoot. Breakfast on the run, lunch as part of the show, and then come back, do another scene, and then we had our live show almost every night. That was a beast – a three month beast.
The traveling business class for Three Sheets, and having a car pick me up and take me to the hotel is nothing that I can complain about. Quite frankly, however, hopping on my bus, falling asleep, and then waking up in a new city, and having to go to some different bars and then come back and get to entertain people – I can’t complain about that either! They’re just two separate animals.
If you could give one tip or piece of advice to travelers, what would it be?
I said this in my book, and I think it’s my best piece of advice – if you go someplace, whether it’s on native soil or abroad, there are a lots of ways to do it. Yes, you can get on a bus and get pictures of statues and monuments where significant events happened.
Put it this way, you can spend a hundred dollars going on a bus tour of the area and learn about the place you’re in and the history of it, or you can go into a pub, buy someone a drink, and you can learn about the country or the place, from someone who is currently living there. Both have their merits, but for me – don’t get me wrong, I love monuments, I’m a history nerd – I love going and hearing the story from the people, the people that live there… it’s much more fun to hear it from someone who’s living there, and not just from a tour guide who does the same lecture everyday
And it doesn’t hurt to do it with a drink in your hand.