Comedian extraordinaire Nate Bargatze, like all entertainers (and much of the world’s population), has been put into a tough spot with this COVID-19 pandemic. Bargatze is adapting in these trying times. With many comedy clubs across the country shuttered or at very limited capacity, Nate is joining a select few performers trying their hands at performing in a socially distanced environment at drive-in movie theaters. The tour includes a stop at North East Ohio’s Aut-O-Rama in North Ridgeville.
What’s that popular witticism? “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
I’m not sure if Bargatze fancies himself one of the “tough” guys (although he is a road warrior, racking up performances all over the country each year), but he is definitely one of the “good” guys and definitely one of few “clean” / family-friendly comics enjoying big-time success.
A high school teacher myself, I am able to show his latest special ‘Tennessee Kid’ to my students. I get questions like, “Where are the swear words?” The subject matter isn’t sexually or racially charged; no group is isolated. The students can share the jokes in the lunchroom without fear of landing in detention or catching a sexual harassment case.
Checking in with me by phone from his tour bus en route to his first drive-in show, Bargatze discussed his thoughts on the upcoming drive-in tour:
“I wanted to do something just to get out and do some comedy and, honestly, as a comedian, a lot of stuff is about experiencing different things. This is something I wanted to experience. You’re hoping this pandemic is not going to happen again in our lifetime. I’m kind of hitting all the sights. I thought with how weird of a year it’s been that I might as well try this,” Bargatze said. “I hope people come out and say, ‘Let’s see how it is; let’s see how it goes.’ I hope to at least hear the people in the front laughing. That must be the hardest part is that comics rely on the performer/audience relationship so it will be nice to fill that kind of timing and see how that fits.”
It goes without saying that these shows will be different beyond description than what Nate is used to. He’s done outdoor shows, but not with audience members spread out (or in cars)! His thoughts on the venue format:
“The front row is 50 feet from the stage. There are going to be cars parked a quarter of a mile from me, probably. It will be very interesting to see what the audience thinks. It could be good if they are in the cars with their friends and laughing and having a good time. But the audience also relies on other people laughing. That helps you laugh. Hopefully, they are all going to be hearing each other laugh. I can do my show and figure the timing out even if I can’t hear everyone. I think we’ll be able to do it when it’s pretty fun. From what I’ve heard other comics doing, for the situation that we’re in, they are pretty funny and pretty different,” he said. “Hopefully it will be neat to be like ‘Yeah, I saw him when he was at the drive-in. I saw him parked in my car.’ I hope there are no hybrid cars during this show because I’d like to know that nobody left. If someone goes in a Tesla they can sneak out pretty easily.”
As for material that Nate will be performing, it’s all new since his last special. He’s working out his new set for a new special that he hopes to record later this month.
“I talk about some COVID stuff and addressing that but it’s not super long, then I just get to my act,” Bargatze revealed.
It seems like ages since he has last been on stage. As a working comic, this obviously will present issues when getting back into a live setting.
“Imagine me trying to use this time to prepare for this special and get all of these jokes back in order. The hardest part is remembering some of them because I was going to be doing 100 dates this year and maybe a little more than that, so I’d really get into a good rhythm,” he said. “Right now, I really need to get back into that. For this scenario, it helps that there is a purpose to do this, trying to get ready for this special.“
In addition to getting back out on the road, Bargatze has revived his podcast, ‘Nateland.’
“It’s been going really good. Everyone’s so angry about all of this political stuff so we’re trying to do one that’s not political and trying just to be funny and we don’t talk about that stuff. That way, if you need a break and need to relax, you can. It’s clean, too, so you can listen to it with your kids there. I know that all the Podcasts I listen to and stuff, sometimes it’s hard when you can’t listen to it with your kid around. Now, you can listen to it and watch it at home and not be worried,” Bargatze said. “That’s the thing, for us, as comedians, if you’re sitting at home alone, you get out of being funny, and it’s not good, so you need to be making jokes and trying to be funny. So, doing this podcast is a big part of helping me stay funny so that when I do get to get back to being funny, I won’t feel like I haven’t been telling jokes for six months.“
Without a small club or other outlets for trying out new material, Bargatze has turned to the toughest critic of them all.
“When I test new material, I test it on my [8-year-old] daughter and her friends. I’m bringing it all out,” he said with a chuckle. “That was a tough audience. That prepared for me the drive-in and not hearing laughs.”
As for rehearsing for the tour?
“I go and perform in front of my car at nightly to prepare for it,” he joked.
Nate’s final thoughts?
“I hope you come out and it’s going to be a good time. We’ll give you a good show. You’ll have a lot of fun!”
One ticket is needed per carload. However, pricing is based on the number of patrons per car! Tickets can be purchased online via the link below:
From the promoter:
HOTBOX & OUTBACK PRESENTS are excited to present Nate Bargatze’s: One Night Only Drive-In Tour!
This unique comedy experience is the first of kind in America and features live performances by Nate Bargatze & special guests. The event will follow social distancing guidelines and the event producers want you to have a safe, fun time at this incredible experience.
We are following all CDC guidelines. Cars will be parked at their minimum distance in accordance to each state’s safety recommendations. All drive-in staff will be wearing PPE and tickets can be purchased online ONLY to ensure contactless payment. There is no re-entry and all sales are final.
Audio will be transmitted through your vehicles FM Stereo, so please check and ensure your car has working speakers and radio. Please turn your key to accessory mode to keep your stereo on. You are allowed to bring portable boomboxes and stereos if you don’t have a functional car stereo.
We ask that restrooms be used for emergencies only during the show, maintaining social distancing.
All attendees visiting the Concession or Restroom areas must wear a mask. Please respect the safety and experience of others.
In order to provide the safest and best Drive-In Concert Experience, we require each participant to observe the following rules:
- If you are sick, running a fever or have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home until you are healthy.
- Per contact tracing standards, No Tickets Will Be Transferrable. YOUR ID MUST MATCH NAME ON THE TICKET. No Exceptions, All Others will be denied entry…
- Only attendees within vehicles are allowed to attend this event.
- No refund requests, transfers, or exceptions will be granted (unless the event is cancelled outright). This event is rain or shine.
- There are a limited number of vehicle passes available at each concert, so act fast!
- Guests may be allowed to sit inside their vehicle, atop their vehicle, directly in front of their vehicle (you provide a lawn chair), or in their trunk/truck bed. No guests will be allowed to sit outside of their vehicle in a manner that is within 3′ away from their vehicle. Please respect each other’s space. Security will be on-site to enforce social distancing. Rules are subject to change per the venue’s request.
- No RVs, buses, or oversized vehicles.
- No alcohol, drugs, or illegal substances will be permitted at the event or inside your vehicle. Police & security will be on-site. Your vehicles may be searched upon entry.
- No weapons, guns, fireworks, knives, pepper spray, or laser pointers.
- No professional cameras, drones, or video or audio recording equipment.
- No outside food or beverage – concessions will be avail at each drive-in.
- Entry to the venue will be cutoff at the time mentioned on the ticket description (7:30pm for the early show, 10:15pm for the late show) as to not disturb the comedian or the attendees. No late entry will be permitted under ANY circumstance. No refunds for late entry. Arrive early!
- We suggest arriving early — drive-in parking is first-come-first serve — unless you have purchased a FRONT 4X ROWS VIP Ticket.
- All audio will be streamed via FM transmitter. Please make sure to arrive with a working FM radio in your vehicle or you will not be able to listen to the show.
- Venue will supervise all concessions. Concessions will be paid via credit card or touchless, there will not be cash transactions.
- We require that you follow the current CDC guidelines in your state during this time. That means bring a mask, gloves, sanitizer.
- The event producers may choose to provide masks or sanitizer for each event. Guests are highly recommended to provide their own. We cannot guarantee availability and if provided, will be done so on a first come, first serve basis.
- No pets are allowed.
- Drivers caught concealing other persons in their vehicle, weapons, alcohol, drugs, or outside food and beverage will be turned way or asked to leae without a refund. All vehicles will be subject to search.
- Big trucks and SUVS may be directed to the back of the lot so you do not block the screen.
- Tickets can be purchased online only, there will be no box office onsite. Please head to the ticketing page to purchase tickets.