Updated: Feb 14
I’ve heard that there is no real freedom like the open road with a steel horse between your legs. I myself have never experienced this joy, though I’ve been told that I need to. Truth be told I’ve always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, but I’ve always had a weird fear of adrenaline type rushes. From amusement park rides to racing cars, I’ve always been afraid.
Since I was a child I’ve always had a fascination with cowboys and even as an adult I still identify with lifestyle of the cowboy. As a comedian I find myself often on the road alone similar to that of a cowboy. I’ve always thought of motorcycles as modern day horses and bikers as the modern day cowboys, true “American Rebels”. When I was 5 or 6 I remember a friend of my mom’s taking me on a motorcycle ride and it about traumatized me so I never learned to ride nor thought to hard about purchasing a motorcycle.
As a comedian I get to travel a lot and I get to meet a lot of interesting people. That’s how I met Lee Bruns from Watertown, SD. Lee was a super fan of comedy and a motorcycle enthusiast (he’s one of the friends that keeps telling to buy a motorcycle). Lee and I connected via Facebook after he seen me perform in Watertown, SD. At that time I was living in California. He started as fan, but would later become a good friend after he started dabbling in stand-up comedy and asked for my involvement on a project he was working on soon after I moved back to South Dakota back in 2016.
As I said before Lee was a fan of comedy and a motorcycle enthusiast. In fact he builds custom sidecars in his garage. Lee wanted to combine both his passion for comedy and his passion for motorcycles so he came up with an idea for a web series called “Comedians In Sidecars Getting Chislic” inspired by the web series “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” made famous by Jerry Seinfeld. The concept was simple. Lee would take a comedian on a ride in a sidecar and go get chislic and talk about comedy. Just in case you’re not familiar with Chislic, it’s a traditional dish of cubed red meat most commonly localized to the state of South Dakota. Now not only did this project combine two of Lee’s passions it would also feature a local delicacy.
This was a great concept for a series, so when Lee asked me to be apart of the project I was honored, especially when his other guest was Timmy Williams from IFC’s sketch show “The Whitest Kids U Know”. After all I’m not as well known as Timmy. I’ve never been on television or in any noteworthy movies. I’m just unknown comedian trying to pay the bills one road gig at a time. At the time I didn’t really know Lee very well nor had I ever ridden in a sidecar so I really didn’t know what to expect.
I lived in Sioux Falls and he lived in Watertown, so we planned to meet on a day when I would be passing through Watertown. I showed up to Lee’s house and he already had the motorcycle and sidecar ready to go. It was a 1981 GS850 Suzuki with a “Spirit of American” sidecar. The sidecar was actually pretty small and when I first saw it I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to get into it.Lee gave me the helmet options of Highway Cone, Darth Vader, or Propane Stickers. I chose Propane Stickers, because who doesn’t like a helmet full of stickers. Also I really liked the helmet style. I strapped the helmet on and now it was time to go get chislic. I will admit that I did have a little bit of a struggle figuring out how to get into the sidecar as I’ve never been in one before.
As I made myself comfortable in the sidecar, Lee was busy mounting his iPhone camera to catch my expressions as we went for this ride. As he was mounting it I questioned it’s stability and support to the camera mount on the sidecar. Lee then reassured me that he had used this mount before and it was stable & secure. Now that the camera was mounted it was time for the ride. Lee fired up the motorcycle and off we went. We pulled out of his driveway and around the corner we went. As Lee began to accelerate and I could feel the wind pounding against my face the iPhone camera fell and crashed into the pavement. Lee quickly turned around to retrieve the camera and assess the damage. I felt like I had jinxed us with my comment about the stability before so I felt really bad. The screen did crack, but the camera was still working and it ended up being a really funny clip as the camera never stopped recording when it crashed to the ground.
Lee remounted the camera making sure it was actually secure this time and then off we went. We drove around town for a little bit before making our way to Dempsey’s Pub to get the chislic and do the interview. As we rode I could feel the wind against my face and I could see why so many people love to ride. The feeling of the open air can only be described as refreshing. We ended up having to do the interview twice due to some technical issues with the first interview, however it ended up being better because Lee was able to add some other elements to the interview which can be seen here. While I had lots of fun on this ride, it was a bit rough since there isn’t really any suspension on the sidecar, so the next time I ride a motorcycle it definitely won’t be from the sidecar.