Ben and Morey Embark on Season 7 of Their Live Show, Season 2 of Their Bus Tour
You might know them as the adorably witty hosts to Nashville’s premier, untelevised, late-night talk show, The Ben & Morey Show, but Ben Oddo and Morey Hill are so much more than two young dudes who spend their Thursday nights conversing with notable Nashvillians in front of a live audience. These two are bus tour guides; they’re best buddies; and they’re just a couple regular dudes who like to make people laugh.
What began back in 2015 as a late-night conversation between a couple of pals and a bottle of beer...eventually turned into a not-so-late-night, on-stage conversation between a couple of pals and their special guests (and a cooler of beer). That July, Morey and Ben began hosting their weekly comedy show in the Centennial Park Performing Arts Center’s Black-Box Theater, and just like *that* The Ben & Morey Show was born. Just ten bucks earned guests a ticket to the show, a cold can of Budweiser, and an hour of live entertainment. And while the guys knew their offer was a good one, they didn’t necessarily think it would persist for as long as it has.
“I think the two independent ideas were: 1) We like talking to people. And 2) Nashville has people to talk to. So...let’s talk to them,” Ben recalled.
And so they did.
“Our first-ever guests were [then-mayoral candidate] Charles Robert Bone and Santa from Santa’s Pub,” said Morey. “It’s funny because, you know, that was our very first idea. When we were just talking about doing the show we thought it would be cool to have Charles Robert Bone and Santa from Santa’s Pub. We said those exact words. And somehow they both said yes.”
“And that never happened again,” said Ben.
From best-selling author Ann Patchett, to Andre Prince of Prince’s Hot Chicken; from local chocolatier Scott Witherow of Olive & Sinclair, to former Titans football star Eddie George, Ben and Morey have sat down and had conversations with some pretty fascinating people — and then some. Lauren Farina and Kelly Farina-Carter of Shakti Power Yoga chatted with the guys about yoga and meditation, and then taught the two hosts a few postures to help them become more limber. Zach Richardson and his Chew Crew of sheep infiltrated both the stage and the audience at The Ben and Morey Show, going so far as to urinate on both their signature red couch and Morey’s signature khakis (the sheep, that is…Zach did not pee on anything).
While the format of the show has remained generally the same since day one — a co-performed monologue, followed by two separate guest interviews, and overall intertwining of music from Dr. Soul’s Wholly Funk Band — Ben and Morey never limited their performances to the theater alone. In 2017 the duo visited the practice field for the Tennessee Titans to interview both players and coaches, taking their temperature about the season ahead and scouting potential new roommates. In the spring of 2018, when the Nashville Predators were heading into the playoffs, they stopped by the Preds’ locker room to get to know the players and learn more about how to intimidate your opponent during a fist fight. Ben and Morey have been tapped to host awards shows, have filmed videos to promote local events, have appeared on local news broadcasts, and have even traveled all the way to Santa Claus, Indiana just for funsies — all in the name of The Ben and Morey Show. And it’s only been three years!
Prior to embarking upon their sixth season however, the guys made some major moves: not only did the show find a shiny, new home at the Third Coast Comedy Club in Marathon Village, but the pals-turned-comedians added an additional home to their repertoire: a big, pink school bus.
True to form, they announced the start of The Ben and Morey Tour via YouTube video, a short little number featuring the infamous Jugg Sisters: “You know, when you get to be our age, it’s so important to find someone who can carry on your legacy,” said Sherri Lynn. “Ben and Morey are not those guys...but they’re all we’ve got!” Brenda Kay finished. Utilizing the same Big Pink Bus on which The Jugg Sisters host their popular NashTrash Tours, Ben and Morey officially took their show on the road as well.
“The bus tour has been really fun,” said Ben, “and it’s been a total 180° from the show. [Performing on a bus is different] as far as the people we perform for, and the type of comedy we do...and not to mention it’s on a moving vehicle as opposed to a stationary stage.”
Complete with purple-pink uniforms reminiscent of Vince Vaughn’s bus guide uniform in The Break Up, and tiny, skin-colored microphones that loop around their ears, Ben and Morey don the guise of city guides during their just-shy-of two-hour bus ride. With an intention to “show you our city from a local’s perspective,” the pink bus drives through downtown, midtown and the Music Row area with Ben and Morey narrating, singing, dancing, and joking all the while. Although the tour is informational, the information shared isn’t necessarily accurate — but it sure is fun. Or at least, it’s gotten fun with practice. Turns out, life on the road is far different from life on the stage.
“[On the bus,] it’s very dependent on the audience,” said Ben.
“Right,” Morey confirmed. “Because it’s Saturday morning, we know [our audience] might have a couple cocktails in ‘em and they’re just a little rowdy but mostly having a good time. But then some of them have a couple cocktails in ‘em and they’re just really chatty the whole time. That can be really tough.”
At Third Coast, Morey and Ben are afforded the preconceptions of theater etiquette — the audience can chat amongst themselves while the lights are up, but under the veil of darkness, chatter mostly stops — but on the bus, anything goes.
“Unlike the show, where the audience was pretty much all our friends and family, on the bus it’s all strangers,” said Morey. “They’re all tourists! They’re genuinely there to have a good time and get to know the city. They are in Nashville for 48 hours and they choose to spend 2 hours on the bus with Ben and me.” Talk about pressure. “Our first five or six shows were pretty rocky,” said Morey. But now? “...they all love it! They take pictures with us and that’s like the highlight of their weekend — well, for some of them at least.”
With fresh, new ears on which to test out their comedic prowess and the ability to tweak their skits week after week, Ben and Morey solidified a routine, honed their improv skills, and started regularly engaging with the audience to bring freshness [and hilarity] to their Saturday morning bus tour. “It’s been fun to write jokes and then see how they play out,” said Ben. “...to be able to tweak them to make them work better. Then seeing the jokes that do land? That’s really cool.”
Morey added, “We’re definitely more interactive with our bus audience, which isn’t something we do on the show typically. That’s been really fun to get to do.”
Fortunately, the fun doesn’t have to end. Although Morey and Ben will admit that they’ve been wavering as to whether they’ll continue to pursue their extracurricular comedic activities (both have full-time jobs) or whether they’ll lay them to rest, their decision is this: both The Ben and Morey Show and The Ben and Morey Tour are sticking around for a while. The duo has maintained the standards they set early on, and have only exceeded their own expectations. So, why would they stop now?
Since that fateful night in July, Morey and Ben have hosted 72 episodes, completed 6 seasons, and have sat down with over 150 of Nashville’s most interesting people. They have posted more than 30 videos to their YouTube channel, have taken countless tourists on upwards of 25 bus tours, and ultimately did something hilarious and different — something that nobody else in Nashville has done.
“I feel like I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do,” said Ben. “I mean I’ve thought about doing stand up, and I like doing character work on a bus, but what we originally set out to do was to be local talk show hosts...and we’ve done exactly that.”
“So what’s the ultimate dream?” I asked them before we finished our coffees and headed out to our day jobs.
Morey responded, “I think our dream — as funny as it is — would be to do The Ben and Morey Show. So...in a way we’re already kind of doing it and that’s why it’s been so awesome. We came up with the idea, we got the guests, and we got the band. We created it.”
Season 7 of The Ben and Morey Show kicks off at The Third Coast Comedy Club on Thursday, November 15th at 8:00pm. Tickets to the show are just $12 and are available for purchase in advance online at benandmoreyshow.com. Join them for an evening of fun and laughs every Thursday night through December 12th, or visit nashtrash.com to purchase tickets to The Ben and Morey Tour. With a handful of Friday night happy-hour tours, and their regularly-scheduled Saturday morning tours, there’s opportunity to spend your entire weekend with these two regular dudes who spend their spare time making people laugh.