Vince Vaughn, four comedians, a handful of Vaughn’s actor buddies (including Justin Long and Jon Favreau), and a batch of producers and behind-the-scenes personnel traveled across the country performing 30 comedy shows in 30 days. Everything was captured on film and the result is Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, which not only showcases the talents of comedians Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst, and Sebastian Maniscalcos, but also provides a very revealing look at the world of stand-up comedy.
The tour, which was the brainchild of Vaughn, took place in the fall of 2005. Vaughn did a show to help out a friend of his in New Orleans, and that went so well he followed it up with a couple more benefit shows. From there, the idea of a month-long cross-country tour was born.
Vince Vaughn and the Wild West Comedy Show Comedians Press Conference
Can you talk about the experience of doing this movie and then finally seeing the final product?
Ahmed Ahmed: “Vince came up with the idea. It was kind of last minute idea of going on a tour, and a month later we were on this bus. The experience was great being able to perform in front of really large crowds. We weren’t expecting it to be a movie, to be honest with you. We were just going show by show. We really weren’t looking at the outcome of the tour. We were just like, ‘Let’s try to be funny every night.’ And then we finished the tour, it was like, ‘That was great. I would do it again.’ They had cameras on the bus and they shot the whole thing, and it was cut into this film. They showed it to us and the next thing I know, it’s a movie. It was really a blessing to be part of the whole experience.”
John Caparulo: “The surprising thing for me, really, was I remember when we were out on the tour. We were just out there living our daily lives on the bus, you know, which is pretty boring. I’d get up at 2pm and I had breakfast and did the show. I remember thinking when we were on the tour, ‘Are they going to have enough footage to make anything with this?’ And I remember they told me when they were getting into the editing process that, ‘Oh, the first cut of the movie was 4 hours long.’ I was like, ‘Okay! I guess we had enough footage.’ So, yeah, that was the surprise to me - we made a movie.”
Vince, how did these guys end up on your radar so that you recruited them for this tour?
Vince Vaughn: “Well, I had known Ahmed. In fact, Ahmed and I had become friends at the same time that I became friends with Peter Billingsley, which was that After School Steroid Special. Looking back on it, it’s kind of like looking at The Outsiders. Who would have thought that all these guys would have come from one particular special? And then Ahmed, there weren’t a lot of parts for him so he sort of turned to stand-up comedy as an avenue for expression, because there weren’t a lot of parts for Egyptian kids. I’d have to go watch him, like a friend in need is a pest. Every month it’d be like, ‘I gotta watch him tell that joke again…’
But as I went down, he started to get better because he started to talk about himself and his family and these kinds of things. Ahmed really became excellent at what he does. In going to watch him, I watched these guys as well. My favorite comedians, the one thing they all had was they were talking about real life experiences. Sometimes stuff is not that flattering whether it was relationships or family situations, but they had a sense of humor about themselves. There was kind of a connection to a movie with old country Western songs. There’s comedy in that. You’re talking about what you know. It comes from a genuine life experience…”
What was the most memorable venue you performed at?
Bret Ernst: “The Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville because you could just see all the old history there. I’m a big Elvis fan and I know he was on that stage, so it was just awesome.”
John Caparulo: “I’m telling toilet jokes with people sitting in church pews so that’s pretty cool.”
Do you guys have any plans to get back on the big screen after this film?
Vince Vaughn: “To be honest, I don’t care if these guys live or die [laughing]. It wore me out. No, I’m kidding. I’d like to do stuff again. I’d like to do a tour that starts in Boston and kind of goes down the East Coast down to Florida. I’d like to do one in the Pacific Northwest and go to Toronto and maybe go other places with it. It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. There’s a different energy that comes off of it. But I have to wait and see what our schedule is and sort of how things translate. But in and of itself, it’s a very magical special thing. The big thing is that you don’t go and try to recreate something that you couldn’t predict. You have to, I think, try to start from another place that felt authentic.”
How about acting together?
Vince Vaughn: “Acting? Yeah, absolutely. These guys are talented guys so it could happen. I’m sure they’ll have their own things going on from this and stuff that they’re doing. I like to act with people like [Jon] Favreau and that again, so it’s possible.”