The year was 2012. My cousin Percy was deciding on places to have his bachelor party. After a short deliberation he whittled the options down to Dayton, Ohio, and New Orleans. I don’t know how Dayton got into the mix, but it was there. After several heated arguments that almost split up the family, we decided on New Orleans. Then he changed his mind and picked Dayton. I was baffled. I put together a PowerPoint presentation that clearly explained how New Orleans was extremely superior to Dayton in regards to nightlife and food options. He remained unswayed. I took a stance and said, “Listen man, I’m not going to Dayton under any circumstances.” Then he just said “OK, fine.” What? That’s all it took to get him to agree to New Orleans? So much time was wasted.
I’d never been to New Orleans before. I heard a lot about it from Lil Wayne songs and Juvenile songs and Master P and Silkk the Shocker songs. I was ecstatic for this trip. I was the Best Man. I’m not a fan of that term. Honestly, I think it’s a bit pretentious—I guess it sounds better than “Just an OK guy with above-average planning skills.” But I really wanted to make this a memorable experience. While I was in Los Angeles, I asked a few people what I should do in New Orleans. A guy named Stoney Sharp said you do a second line. I said “I’m gonna let you finish, but you have one of the coolest names of all time. OK, what’s a second line?” He then explained that a second line is when you hire your own band to follow you around the streets of New Orleans while you dance and drink. This sounded really amazing. I was completely on board. He connected me with a musician who put together a band and walked me through the necessary steps to get everything finalized.
I set up some stand-up gigs in New Orleans and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to cover the costs, because I’m a very frugal person. When we were leaving the hotel in Hattiesburg, there was one of those J.D. Power and Associates awards at the front desk. We stole it, and when we got to New Orleans we would put it on the table at restaurants, and the servers would make conversations about it and we would make up stories about how we won it. This is my confession.
We lost the award somewhere. Or maybe someone else stole it. It was a tough experience for me, but there was no time to dwell on what type of monster would do such a thing, because I had a parade to plan.
I went to the police station to get the permit for our parade. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there’s a designated department for parades. I proceeded to have the best interaction that I’ve ever had with a police officer. He helped me figure out the route and gave me some great restaurant recommendations. Outstanding! Now everything was confirmed. I was the only one in our group who knew about it. I couldn’t wait for the reveal. I imagined this was how Oprah felt right before she showered her unexpecting audience with amazing gifts. I was the Oprah of this bachelor party.
On the big day, we ate at Cochon. They have some great food. The bill came, and no one else even looked like they had the slightest intention of paying. Nobody! I was furious because my pockets were a bit light from paying the, um, entertainment the previous night. Yikes. This trip was adding up. I paid the bill and suggested we go to a bar near Canal Street. Little did they know that we were about to enter a powerful sensory overload zone. We arrived at the intersection, and there was a full band and two police escorts. The band started playing and we started walking and it was glorious. Walking through the streets of New Orleans with a band playing behind you feels amazing. You feel like a superhero. People started joining in and dancing with us. The whole situation felt like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
I spend every day of my life chasing that feeling, and I’m never able to capture it. Writing this definitely didn’t feel like that. This felt like homework, but I’m excited to share the story. To the citizens of New Orleans, I apologize if I inspire annoying or terrible people to come there and do this.
Comedian, actor, writer, and podcast host Hannibal Buress stars this month in Tag, a film based on a true story about the most epic game of tag ever played.