Sunday, December 27, 2015

Charlotte Funny Bus tour wasn't funny or informative (Review)

I had high hopes for the Funny Bus tour this weekend. It sounded great. Spend 90 minutes riding a bus through Southend, Uptown, NC Music Factory and NoDa while a funny tour guide told us about the area. Plus, it was BYOB.

I did the Lazoom tour in Asheville a couple of weeks ago. It was great. Saturday's Charlotte Funny Bus tour was uncomfortable at times and not funny. Our tour guide needed way more training and knowledge about Charlotte. It was obvious, he hasn't lived here long if he lives here at all.

Since I've lived here for nearly 20 years, and was a news reporter for 15, I tried not to be an obnoxious know-it-all riders. However, our guide had too many missed opportunities to be ignored.

The tour started uptown.  He pointed out the Old Settler's Cemetary, Discovery Place, and Romare Beardon Park.  Cool, but it went downhill from there. At the EpiCentre, he incorrectly called Whiskey River, Whiskey River Run and slammed Wild Wings. He failed to mention the entertainment complex was the centerpiece of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

In Southend, he only mentioned Price's Chicken Coop. He totally ignored the area where Food Truck Friday is hosted or how Southend is home to numerous local breweries.

He gave a decent history of NoDa's YMCA, mill homes and the Neighborhood Theater, which at one point was an X-rated theater.  He pointed out Cabo Fish Taco and Boudreaux, which aren't even local restaurants. He didn't offer any history on the transformation of the area from a declining mill village to an artist community to present day. And he kept referring to NoDa as hipster neighborhood. It's not. It's a cool yuppie neighborhood.

His tour of Plaza-Midwood was the worst. The street car information was good, but he repeatedly mispronounced Vanlandingham and erroneously referred to the Harris Teeter as the TajMaTeeter. That's the nickname for the store in SouthPark. He did mention that PM home to the first Harris Teeter, but he missed a chance to talk about the areas transformation or history. And out all of the locally-owned restaurants in the neighborhood, he pointed out Five Guys - Five Guys! Plaza-Midwood has built its reputation on being a haven for locally-owned restaurants and shops.
I fault the tour company for allowing someone with so little knowledge of the city to lead a tour. That's inexcusable.

Here's the thing. I understand that only so much information can be shared in a 90-minute tour. However, our guide spent more time telling really crass jokes, sharing too much information about himself and slamming restaurants and stuff he didn't like. He could've filled that time with useful information presented with humor. 

Our tour guide needs a lot of comedy training. It was supposed to be funny, but his jokes were insults to city staples. When pointing out BB&T stadium, he said no one likes baseball. He said he didn't understand why NASCAR was a sport when pointing out the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In reference to Big Ben's Pub, he said people with rotten teeth named Nigel could get a free beer. Wow.

Aside from insults, his other jokes were crass like the double etendre of Morehead Street. Pedophila is never funny. Nor is Black Lives Matter (and he was Black).

I really, really, like the idea of a comedy bus tour for Charlotte. I don't expect to learn alot since I've lived her for so long, but I do expect to be amused and learn a little something.  I strongly suggest the organizers of Charlotte's make a road trip to Asheville and experience LaZoom because if Saturday's tour is reflective of the all of the Funny Bus tours then the company will fail.


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