He’s about to hit the road again and just like Alice in Wonderland, Matt Roper is looking forward to having his world turned topsy turvy by all the crazy characters he’s bound to meet as he criss-crosses America on an 8,000-mile tour
Right now I’m in the middle of preparing for a month-long tour of the United States, where adventures of all kinds surely await me. Four of us, packed into a car, covering about 8,000 miles. I expect to feel a lot like Alice in Lewis Carroll’s story, stumbling across bottles with labels that read “Drink Me”, for example. Like Alice too, there will be probably a moment where my head grows to such tremendous proportions that it surely hits the ceiling, before I find myself shrinking down to size again and forced to swim through a pool of my own tears.
But did Alice ever get to go to all those mysterious places that people have sung about for years? I’ll be seeing Denver, Albuquerque and Kansas City. Even Amarillo is on the cards. I’ll also be playing in places I’ve never even heard of before.
What, I ask myself, am I to expect of audiences in the city of Mobile, Alabama? Its people claim it as the home of America’s first Mardi Gras and “the Paris of the South” which makes me wonder which town might be promoting itself as “the Paris of the North”. Anyway, I’m promised that the people of Mobile “take fun pretty seriously”. Which is good news – so do I. Who doesn’t? Mobile, I’m pleased to be meeting you.
I’m especially looking forward to being in Atlanta again and catching up with my pal William Childress at last on his home turf. A fine stand-up comic with the grin of the Cheshire Cat, he’s always amusing and just like the Cheshire Cat he seems to have the uncanny ability to appear and disappear at will – we’ve been running into each other all over the world these last few years.
But I’m thinking Indianapolis should be a riot. Literally, it has a history of them. Indianapolis is a town smack bang in the middle of the state of Indiana where – interestingly – Hillary Clinton won 58% of the vote. An island of Democrats surrounded by the citizens of Trumpsville – or Penceville, to be precise. The Mad Tea Party, indeed – in a place where time stands still and all the guests around the table have lost the plot and insist on bombarding you with riddles.
As we all know, it is the peculiar creatures of Wonderland who turn out to be the most interesting and I know just where we’ll encounter them when we arrive in New Orleans. Certain things in life – like fuzzy recollections, calls from unidentified telephone numbers and hangovers that last from here to Christmas are probably best left in New Orleans and never thought of again. It is a sort of Las Vegas for the discerning masses. What recollections I do have from past visits to that great town include throwing my last bit of money at a bunch of musicians, knocking back large bourbons with a man named Washboard Chaz, then finishing off the night dancing with two seven-foot drag queens. I can’t wait to be back there – it’s the part of the tour when we at last get a night off – and I fully expect to encounter at least one lazy hookah-smoking caterpillar who will send me off in the right direction.
Yes, the thought of being on the road again is a happy one. I expect to find myself as delirious as the March Hare and as sleepy as the Dormouse but just as curious as Alice could ever be. But it is the Mock Turtle whose life I fancy – he gets to take his home with him wherever he goes.
But what becomes of those people who fall down the rabbit hole and never really come back? It’s an answer none of us will ever truly know.
Matt Roper is a British comedian based in New York City. His relationship with Lush goes back to 2011 when he performed for the muddy festival-goers of Lushfest, returning the following year to curate the line-up of the comedy stage. As he travels around the world, he shares his musings with us here in a series of writings – a sifting of thought from a restless but always seeking imagination.
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