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H. Jon Benjamin Preps for Bob’s Burgers Tour

Actor talks up comedy junket, Battleship-playing chickens

West Coast fans of Bob’s Burgers take note: H. Jon Benjamin and the rest of the cast are bringing their inspired brand of comic instability to a town near you.

In a barnstorming tour that will target five cities in six nights, the five principal cast members of Fox’s animated comedy series will offer fans a signature blend of stand-up, a Q&A session and a live table read.

Joining Benjamin (Bob Belcher) on the inaugural Bob’s Burgers Live! jaunt are: Kristen Schaal (Louise), Eugene Mirman (Gene), Dan Mintz (Tina) and John Roberts (Linda). The tour kicks off May 6 in San Diego before moving on to Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

Before heading West, the New York-based Benjamin spoke to Adweek from a noisy restaurant in Chinatown. When advised to go visit the Mott St. chicken who famously beats humans at tic-tac-toe, the actor revealed that another piece of Old New York has vanished.

“Uh, I think that chicken died,” Benjamin said. “They got a new one. It’s the daughter of the original chicken. This one’s smarter—it plays Battleship.”

Perhaps best known for voicing the fatuous alcoholic superspy Sterling Archer on FX’s giddy original series Archer, Benjamin got his first big break on Comedy Central’s Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. When asked what he thought might have happened to his genial slacker, Ben Katz, Benjamin painted a comic portrait of morbid obesity and a particularly American spectacle.

“I hadn’t thought about what might have happened to Ben, but I guess he would have become one of those guys who gets so fat he has to be lifted out of his home with a crane,” he said. “I can picture his bed hanging from the end of the crane and him waving to all the neighbors who’ve come outside to watch the tremendously overweight recluse being hauled from his home with a giant machine. ‘Hey guys, look at me! First time I’ve left the house in years!’”

Benjamin paused for a moment, reconsidering his answer. “Or maybe he committed suicide. … Geez, this is getting dark.”

Having performed in similar tours with the Archer cast, Benjamin said he knows enough to not stray too far from his comfort zone. “I don’t do a lot of standup, but I uh, perform in a certain manner,” he said. “Sometimes I tell jokes that other people don’t necessarily think are all that funny. I think they’re funny.” 

The tour is a reunion of sorts for the cast, who work in separate locations. Benjamin and Mirman call New York home, while the rest of the Bob’s Burgers actors are based in L.A. The two East Coasters met on the Boston comedy circuit in the late 1990s, and heavy touring brought Mirman and Schaal within each other’s orbits.

The cast in November sent up a trial balloon, holding court for one night in Madison, Wisc. So enthusiastic was the audience response that series creator Loren Bouchard decided to develop a May tour. If next week’s shows are well-received (and they are almost completely sold out), an East Coast sortie may be in the works.

“People seemed really thrilled to come see the show, and we got a lot of what you would call real hardcore fans,” Benjamin said. “Only a couple people showed up in costume, though. When we do the Archer shows, you see a lot more of that kind of thing. Probably because Archer lends itself to Cosplay and, you know, Bob’s Burgers is a broadcast show. We have a much more sophisticated audience.”

A steady performer in Fox’s “Animation Domination” lineup, Bob’s Burgers is in its third season averaging 4.16 million live-plus-same-day viewers and a 2.0 in the adults 18-49 demo. Per SQAD NetCosts estimates, a 30-second spot in the show commands around $160,000.

Fox in October renewed Bob’s Burgers for a fourth season. Turner’s Adult Swim this week acquired the off-net rights to the show from 20th Century Television for a fee of around $500,000 per episode.

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