New comedy bus is a unique and fun experience
While walking the familiar streets of campus one Friday evening, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks, faced with a shocking sight: a school bus painted cherry red with gold trim, rolling merrily down Euclid Avenue. The passengers were well past their years of class field trips to the city. Rather, this bus was filled with ecstatic adults, who waved at me through the removed windows, sipping from their beers and singing along to pop music loudly playing from within. As the bus pulled out of sight, I saw the name painted on the side: Funny Bus. My curiosity had been captured.
Combine the information from a tour of Downtown Cleveland that one would experience on Lolly the Trolley with a laughter filled evening at a comedy club, and what you get is a ticket to ride the Funny Bus. Having debuted this summer, the Funny Bus is still new in town, but already getting plenty of attention from Clevelanders like me.
The Cauldron spoke with Dean Schnurr, who co-owns the bus with his wife Sarah. The Funny Bus concept started with his sister- and brother-in-law, based in Charlotte. Schnurr knew he had to bring the experience to Cleveland after witnessing their success, and noting the city’s growing tourist trade and interest in entertainment. A half a year later, just about every tour is sold out.
Needing to experience it for myself, I made my way to Collision Bend; a charming, nautical-themed local microbrewery on the waterfront of the Flats. The brewery not only serves delicious food and drinks, but also served as our departure point. The brewery is a fitting departure point, as the Funny Bus and alcohol are a match meant to be. Riders are permitted to bring their own beverages, with cup holders and bottle openers at every seat, making the bus well equipped for you to enjoy a drink- or a few.
One piece of advice for riders: come in pairs and line up early. With every seat sold out, our group squeezed three to a seat to avoid splitting up. Our ride started promptly at 6:30pm, with local comedian John Armstrong at the helm. Striking a balance of Cleveland factoids and interactive humor, our group was quick to open up. He took the time to get to know the passengers, riffing on their hometowns and occupations as we went.
The bus has three rotating comedians, all Cleveland locals. “I did extensive research, and by research I mean I went to a lot of comedy clubs and open mic nights. You can go on the tour three different times, with our three different comedians, and get three different experiences,” shared Schnurr.
Even beyond that, every tour is different because of its interactive nature, and with the hosts narrowed down from a list of 100, the night’s entertainment is extremely qualified.
The tour itself combines your staple Cleveland sights- such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Free Stamp, and Public Square- alongside some less conventional stops, such as the Crazy Horse, a local adult entertainment venue. It was at this point the lucky old lady sitting behind us won herself a Funny Bus condom, which she graciously passed on to someone in my group, claiming we’d need it more than her.
At our next destinations, Playhouse Square and Cleveland State University, my group was singled us out as the only 20-somethings on the bus. In the spirit of stand-up, Armstrong wasted no time in poking fun at my field of study and career aspirations- trust me, I was asking for it.
As we made our way through the city, Armstrong gave his voice a rest and we enjoyed ourselves as we sang along to the 80’s music being piped through the bus speakers. Even the bus driver couldn’t help but join in. This sort of energy captured my attention when I first saw the bus, and the experience lived up to my high expectations.
Back in the Flats, we hit the halfway point of our trip and made a 15-minute stop at Sainato’s at Rivergate and the adjoining Brick & Barrel Brewery. Passengers were given a chance to quickly use the restroom- or grab another drink- before we crossed over the Cuyahoga River and into Ohio City and Tremont for the second half of our trip. A drink at Collision Bend marked the end to a great night.
With hopes for a wider audience, a bigger fleet, and a variety of routes, there’s a lot to look forward to in the future of the Funny Bus. Debuting this October is a special Halloween route featuring the haunted history of Cleveland. A Christmas special will follow this winter, with the Christmas Story House being a featured stop. The Funny Bus is destined to be a comedy staple in Cleveland. My professional opinion? This 90-minute-long comedic tour is time well-spent, and a must-have experience that should be added to every student’s weekend calendar.
Additional writing by Connor Mahon.
The Funny Bus provided complimentary tickets for an unbiased review.