I really tried to like Showtime’s comedy/drama series Roadies. I watched the first couple episodes and started to invest in some of the characters. I even thought Rainn Wilson’s portrayal of Bob Lefsetz was kind of funny (and totally absurd).
But, like other shows attempting to glamorize the touring world (like the unwatchable Mr. Sunshine), Roadies fails because the show’s producers unsuccessfully try to make the touring lifestyle sexier that it actually is. Sure funny things occasionally happen on the road — but they’re punctuated by long periods of dullness, grouchy techs and body odor.
What if we could extract the funny moments into a one-to-two minute clip? Guess what? Someone did! Indiana-native and 29-year-old video tech/roadie Spencer King has created a short series of hilarious web videos about life on the road called Super Rad Kids. His short web videos are a mashup of the funniest moments on the tour bus and they are getting tens of thousands of views on Facebook.
“On one long ride from Manhattan to Jones Beach, I just started shooting stuff,” Spencer told Amplify. “I put it all in a timeline and was like, ‘this could be really funny if I cut it all together.'”
Spencer tours most of the year and spends his time off in Oregon and with his girlfriend in North Hollywood. He has been touring for about seven years and serves as a video and LED tech for Screenworks. He shoots all the video on his cellphone and edits the sequences together after he’s done working a show, usually on the bus between gigs. He just wrapped up a tour for Jimmy Buffett and worked several festivals this summer.
“I like to poke fun at the idiosyncratic parts of the industry,” he said. “As a roadie, you get so caught up in trying to put the show on that a lot of times, you don’t get a look at the funny, simpler parts of it all.”
His videos are starting to gain popularity with road crews, he said. “A buddy of mine called me out of the blue and was like, ‘Dude, on this tour there’s this crotchety lighting guy who doesn’t want to talk to anybody, just sitting over in the corner. I heard the outro for your video on his phone, and I’m like, ‘You’re watching Super Rad Kids!’ He’s like ‘dude it’s super funny. I’ve been waiting for somebody to make funny videos like this forever!'”
His favorite way to get material is to “work these crotchety roadies to the point where they’re so frustrated that they say something funny and they didn’t even mean to,” Spencer said of his video style, which is heavy on pranks, impersonations and sophomoric voice overs.
The Buffet road crew is easy to shoot and rolls with the punches, he said, while festivals are a crap shoot.
“There’s a lot of guys you don’t see again and so there’s this level of anonymity and the sense that you can get away with it because it’s a one off. Those are extra fun. But being on tour, you have the rapport with everybody. People are willing to play along. The game is a little bit more fun. On a festival, it’s kind of like, go, go, go, go and everybody’s running around. A lot of times it’s harder to find the funny.”
Does he worry that a promoter or label or some corporate nob job is going to complain about his videos?
“I just kind of said fuck it. If they want to queef about it, I’ll handle it when they do,” he said. “It would be one thing if people were not really into it. But a lot of people play along.”
Like the production manager for Jimmy Buffet, who Spencer decided looked like Walter White/The Heisenberg from Breaking Bad.
“He thought it was funny too and was so game for it that he had a runner get dry ice, a hazmat suit, and even production managed his own part of the video.”
You can watch that video below, or Like the Super Rad Kids Facebook page to see all of Spencer’s videos.