An interview with Zane Lamprey, host of “Three Sheets” and the upcoming “Drinking Made Easy”

May 25, 2010

Bobby Quillard Photography

Mikhail Prokhorov’s personal assistant. Upper-management bonus-worthy AIG employee. Ice cream taster. Twelfth man on any NBA team. Vice President of the United States. Field reporter for High Times magazine. Body paint artist for an SI Swimsuit shoot. Photographer for the SI Swimsuit issue.

These are all candidates for Best Job in the World. And they all fall just short. Why?

Because Zane Lamprey gets paid to travel all over the world, and he gets to drink while doing it.

Suck on that, Joe Biden.

For four years Lamprey has hosted Three Sheets, a cult hit TV show that flew the nest from MOJO to FLN, and now to its current home at the Travel Channel. In it Lamprey traverses the globe, learning about the alcohol and drinking customs that make each foreign city, country, or region unique (you can read an interview Clare did with him last year about the show here). Unfortunately the show is in a bit of limbo — sorry for the recurring Lost themes — as the Travel Channel decides whether or not to air a fifth season.

In the meantime Zane and his boozing buddies are currently touring America, putting on the Drinking Made Easy comedy show at night while filming stuff for a new fall show on HDNet — strangely titled Drinking Made Easy — during the day. The tour will come to New York’s Irving Plaza on June 2nd (tickets available here), and he was kind enough to phone in last week to talk about both shows, possibly not being able to watch his new one, and very large monkeys.

BeerGoggins: So, where are you calling from?

Zane Lamprey: I am calling from the back of a Suburban in Athens, GA.

BG: Ah, Athens. Good college town.

ZL: Yes, oh yeah. We’re gonna have a great show tonight.

BG: So speaking of that, the Drinking Made Easy tour, give me a breakdown of what the shows are like – some comedy, some drinking, I take it…

ZL: As far as the live show is concerned, we have Steve McKenna who’s in the car with me right now. And as far as comedians are concerned, his beard is amazing.  It’s his first stab at comedy. It’s funny, you’d expect him to get better every night. But for some reason his act is deteriorating, and his beard is growing. It makes for a very entertaining five minutes. Then we have Marc Ryan, who is an amazing comedian. He comes on stage and then I come out. It’s a little bit of an education of beer, wine, and alcohol, [but] it’s all told in a very comical sort of way. Our first objective is to entertain, the second objective is to have fun, then somewhere down the line – in like three, four, five, or seven – is to educate people. We know that people want to come out, have a fun time, and have some drinks, so the show is a drinking game. There’s some slides, there’s some antics, there’s a few songs at the end. It’s a regular show, it’s a good time.

BG: So it’s a good mix of all kinds of different entertainment, basically.

ZL: Yeah. Look, I’m ADHD. I couldn’t sit there with some talking head trying to teach me something for an hour. It’s a mix of things. If Steve McKenna, at some point, probably comes out in his underwear, it’s not written into the show, but it usually happens anyway. You can’t really help it. Then we come on, sing some songs, some sing-alongs at the end, there’s a whole video presentation happening behind me as I’m talking, and comedian Marc Ryan comes up for a few minutes and he knocks it outta the park. He’s hilarious.

BG: Nice. So if you’re talking about beer, do you then pass out beer for the audience to drink, and then the same thing with wine…?

ZL: Yeah, we tried that in Modesto and everyone passed out by the time we got to the wine section, so we had to stop doing that.

BG: So there’s no spit cups for everybody, like a wine tasting.

ZL: No, unfortunately there’s no sampling. People are free to sample on their own.  Or, as we found out last night [Thursday, May 20. -Ed.] in Tampa, over-sample. That crowd – there were about 473 Steve McKennas in the audience by the end of the show. It was a riot – it was a riot in a good way. It was fun, but it was out of control. We loved it.

BG: So, no ski patrol rolling around?

ZL: No, there were definitely ski patrol [ski patrol are people who are more interested in free drinks and camera time than, basically, being cool. -Ed.]. We got Steve McKenna and Jim the Cop, he’ll probably be at the show in New York. We’ll throw him up on stage in that one because he lives there, that’s where he’s a cop, and [we’ll] have him do his thing. But we also have Pleepleus. People think that Pleepleus is a little doll, a little stuffed animal, but he’s an actual full-sized monkey-man. He’s about a 300-pound monkey that comes out on stage, and he actually does some standup as well. He sort of hosts the show. He opens the show up. It’s amazing. It’s been a really fun show, and at the end of it we do a red carpet where people can take photos. It’s the type of show that I would want to go see, and that’s what we’ve made because basically, I have the power to do that.

BG: I have to admit, I’m kind of jonesin’ to see a 300-pound Pleepleus now. That’s pretty badass.

ZL: I’m telling ya, man. Yeah.

BG: So far on the tour, have any cities stood out for any reason, any kind of strange incidents?

ZL: There’s all these people that yell out things from the audience, but we know what we’re doing, so we bust their balls pretty hard. It’s all in good fun. It’s a good time. Usually the people we bust on the hardest are the people that walk away the happiest. “Wow, I can’t believe Zane called me a Steve McKenna.” Or ski patrol, or whatever it is.

But we’re also shooting a TV show, called Drinking Made Easy, which will be on HDNet Thursdays this fall. So during the day we’re shooting the show, and at night we’re doing our standup. We’re running around like, as Steve McKenna would say, monkeys fucking a football. A lot of shit’s going on, but nothing’s really getting done. But it’s a good time, and it’s a great tour.

BG: So the stuff for the comedy show, that’s all separate from these shows, the Drinking Made Easy that you’re shooting for HDNet?

ZL: Basically. Like right now we’re in Athens, we’re taking a day just to get our bearings. I have probably about thirteen interviews lined up today. This is a day for people to get their stuff done. Then we’ll be in Atlanta tomorrow [Saturday May  22. -Ed.]. We have a show tomorrow night, so we’re going to have to go around town and learn about drinking in Atlanta. Then we have a few down days that we’re going to use to shoot the show.

Whenever we’re doing a TV show in the same city as the live show, I usually come on stage before the show starts and just talk for a few minutes about what it is that we shot, and make some jokes, and just let people know what the TV show is. And as soon as I get news on Three Sheets Season Five, I’ll let people know.

BG: Regarding Drinking Made Easy, Clare and I have Time Warner, and we don’t get HDNet.

ZL: I get Time Warner too, and I don’t get HDNet!

BG: It’s a bitch, right?

ZL: I’m going to have to call over to Mark Cuban, and see what we can do about that. I don’t want anyone to have to switch their service, or watch it on Hulu or something.

BG: I was going to ask, will you be able to stream it online or watch it online?

ZL: At some point it will definitely be available online.

BG: Nice. And funny you brought up Mark Cuban, because I was going to ask you if you got to party with him when you were in Dallas.

ZL: Not in Dallas, but I did the last time I was in New York. He actually showed up at the Save Three Sheets rally. Someone was like, “Mark Cuban’s here.” And I’m like, “Yeah, what do you mean Mark Cuban’s here?” Then I look over, and it’s Mark. [As Mark Cuban] “Hey, Zane!” I’m like, “Hey, Mark!” So we sort of stayed in touch, and then there was an opportunity to do a show together and he was just like, boom, “Let’s do it.” So that’s what we’re doing right now.

BG: So that dude moves quick then, apparently.

ZL: You know, he has the ability to move quick, so he does. Exactly.

BG: That’s what billions usually gets you, is the ability to move however fast you want.

ZL: The ability to do whatever it is that you want to do. Thankfully he loved Three Sheets and loves my comedy, so that’s it. We’re partnering up, and we’re going to make an amazing show.

BG: So Drinking Made Easy, is it going to be Three Sheets in America, or is it going to be kind of different?

ZL: It is what it is because we’re traveling around in a tour bus, and we only really get a day, sometimes a day and a half in each city. We have Marc Ryan as one of my correspondents, I got Steve McKenna – he usually goes off and does the eating challenge, or joins me on the shoot.

It’s not the same thing as Three Sheets. We are going out drinking, [and learning about] drinking cultures and drinking customs and stuff like that on a domestic scale, but Three Sheets was its own brand and it still is. I’m hoping this adds to it and builds on everything that Three Sheets started for me.

BG: About Three Sheets – I know you’re probably frustrated talking about it, but I can’t understand why Travel Channel would want to air Andrew Zimmern eating grilled desert rat but they don’t want to show you going around having fun.

ZL: I’ll be honest with you, I don’t understand it. I know there’s a lot of changing of the guard over there, as per the trades; you can read about the new hirings, and Scripps Networks just bought Travel Channel.

We have a lot of fans over there. We just have to wait and see. We’ll find out, you know? I probably won’t be the first to know. It’ll just probably happen, we’ll get a new season and boom – I’ll be off someplace in mainland China, getting drunk.

BG: Nothing wrong with that.

ZL: Nothing wrong with that.

Bobby Quillard Photography

BG: Is there worry that the new Scripps president, Laureen Ong, will de-machismo the network?

ZL: I don’t know. Only time will tell. I have faith that she’s gonna pull the trigger and order another season of Three Sheets. But that’s the changing of the guard I was referring to. We’ll see. I know that there’s fans of Three Sheets over there, so it’s just a matter of her getting settled in, and knowing how wonderful Three Sheets is and how wonderful the fans of the show are, and making it happen.

BG: A couple months ago Clare and I met a couple friends down in Philly for the Philly Craft Beer Fest and one of them came up and he had a Pleepleus shirt on, and I was like “Yes!” So, you’ve got a good base. They’re out there.

ZL: They’re a good base, they’re vocal, and they tell their friends about it. It’s not like you’ve ever seen a billboard for Three Sheets, or any advertisements. It’s all word of mouth because we’ve done our job. We’ve made a fun show. And I don’t think you’ve seen the last of Three Sheets.

BG: I’ve told friends that haven’t seen it, I’ve told them about it and they’re like, “That sounds awesome.” And I say, “Of course it’s awesome. It’s a funny dude going around the world, drinking. It’s great.”

ZL: Well, I appreciate that. We try to have fun, and we do. People can tell.

BG: Our blog is a craft beer site, so is there an American craft beer you’ve had so far on this trip that you’ve really liked?

ZL: Man, there’s so many. Here’s what I do – I wouldn’t even call myself a beer aficionado, but I am certainly a beer appreciator. I go into a bar and say, “I’ve never tried that, may I have that?” And if I really like something I’ll go back.

But I’m in new cities – right now I’m in Athens – and there’s local breweries down here. I want to try those. I want to try their beers. So [I] usually try something new. There’s so many tens of thousands of different craft beers in America, I’m on a quest to try something different. I think I can continue to do that every day.

BG: I’m from Denver originally, so I’m sure you’ve been to Denver and all around Colorado before.

ZL: Yeah, oh yeah, we’re doing a show there.

BG: Ok, final question. You got anything special in the works for the New York show at Irving Plaza?

ZL: I am so excited to do a show in New York, I can’t even tell you. Put it this way: if anybody went to my Zanetoberfest, and saw me do the very first incarnation of my Drinking Made Easy standup, please forgive me for the shit of what that performance was. That was nothing compared to the one this thing has become. I tried out some stuff there, and it was the wrong time, wrong environment, first time doing it. And now we’ve done it fifty times, and we have it all polished, and it’s going to be amazing.

And there will definitely be surprises just for New York. I’m from upstate New York, and I love New York. I can’t wait to come do a show there.

BG: Clare went to [Zanetoberfest], and I was actually flying back from Denver that day. She was trying to get me to take an earlier flight so I could come out. I wanted to, because I wanted to drink, but I wasn’t able to make it. I was kind of bummed about that.

ZL: Well, you didn’t miss much, as far as my performance. You didn’t miss anything. You’ll be better off for it. This next one though … this one’s a blast.

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2 Responses to An interview with Zane Lamprey, host of “Three Sheets” and the upcoming “Drinking Made Easy”

  1. October 3, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Honk if you ARE Jesus

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