When five comedians roll into town from Los Angeles next week, it will be a short walk from tour bus to stage.
The No Fuss Comedy Bus isn't just transportation, it's a comedy club on wheels. The brainchild of comedian and TV writer Taylor "Bugs" Streitz, the bus will soon embark on its maiden voyage, kicking off the tour with a stop at Locale Farm to Table Eatery on Sept. 11.
"There's no bathroom, no A/C, but we're going to do it anyway," Streitz said. "It's like comedy: Stand-up is brutal, we bomb so many times to get a joke to land once, and we do it anyway. We're just going to do it for the sake of making people laugh."
The bus, converted to include sleeping quarters and a green room, is painted with a psychedelic flair but one side features the iconic comedy club backdrop: a brick wall. That's where the stage will be set up, with canopies and chairs for a one-of-a-kind outdoor comedy show.
"At a comedy club, (the comedians) are there all week, it's a well-oiled machine; it's exactly what you expect it to be," said Streitz, whose writing credits include "NCIS: New Orleans" and DC's upcoming "Stargirl." "Our shows are kind of different because every venue brings its own thing."
Not long after getting into stand-up, Streitz went on an 11-city tour by herself, meeting other comedians and hearing their stories along the way. When she later went on a camping trip with friends in a converted bus, she had the idea for a comedy bus that comics could take to cities that might not have a dedicated comedy club.
Streitz bought the bus about a year ago and has been working on it since. Graffiti artist Haste brought Streitz's concept to life, with landscapes the comedians might see on the tour, plus little creatures like monsters and robots. In the window of the brick wall stage is a heckler monster.
Carpenter Patrick Rafferty was responsible for the conversion inside of the bus, and he will join the tour as videographer. He's not the only one pulling double duty on tour: Comedian PJ Baio makes a living as a truck driver, so he will drive the bus and perform each night.
The lineup also includes comedians Audrey Stewart (recently on NBC's "Bring the Funny"), Dave Reinitz (owner of Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank) and Ymane Lakhlif (a Morocco-born comic with a fresh voice and a penchant for crowd work).
"People are getting really excited about the idea and are super jazzed to be a part of it," Streitz said. "I was surprised. (I thought) 'How am I going to get comedians on a bus with no bathroom and no A/C?' But it's been a really positive response."
Because it's the bus's first outing, Streitz decided to call it "The Virgin Tour." After Bakersfield, it will make its way north to San Francisco, then Medford, Ore., and Portland before heading to Boise, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and then back to L.A.
"The comics are all experienced but this is such a unique experience that hasn't been done before," she said. "Taking the club on the road and popping up in cities has never been done before, so we're definitely going to be working out some kinks."
Streitz wants the events to be about community, so each show will include local comedians and benefit a local cause. Bakersfield comedians Curtis Taylor III, Selah Victor, Jessica De La Garza and Darling Hernandez will also take the stage next week.
Bakersfield is already shaping up to be one of the larger stops on the tour, with around 100 to 150 people expected to attend. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Hub of Bakersfield, which focuses on redefining and revitalizing the city.
"Before we even knew we were going to Portland, we knew for sure we were going to go to Bakersfield," Streitz said. "My friend Jesus Martell Gonzalez said, 'You have to come to Bakersfield, they would love it!'"
While food trucks will be at other stops on the tour, the Bakersfield stop at Locale means the food can come right from the venue.
"Because it's all locally based and about community, the audience also feels like they are part of something and contributing to the experience just as much as we are," Streitz said.
Although Bakersfield will be the first stop on the tour, the bus officially made its debut in Los Angeles with a launch party on July 27.
"It all came together so much better than I imagined," she said. "People went crazy for it. They loved it."
After paying for everything herself, it's a sign for Streitz that the gamble was worth it. She hopes people will support the No Fuss Comedy Bus on its first tour, which she hopes to expand across the country in the future.
"Come out because it's going to be fun. These are experienced comics and they're going to make you laugh."