Welcome to My Kinda Town, a new series in which we ask our favorite comedians to highlight the cities they love most. For them, it’s a chance to shout out the joints they were hyped on before they hit big. For you, it’s a chance to uncover new bars, tucked-away restaurants, iconic experiences, and dope places to hang — straight from the mouths of the world’s funniest people. We hope it’ll prove a fun, often funny, sometimes weird ride.
This week we’ve got Tone Bell on deck — fresh off his just-released Showtime special Tone Bell: Can’t Cancel This and currently starring opposite Nina Dobrev in the CBS comedy Fam — to give us an inside look into New Orleans, Louisiana. The man has plenty of thoughts on the Big Easy, from his cracks about rogue Mardi-Gras medallions to how Bourbon Street sparks fear in the hearts of white-kick-sporting sneakerheads everywhere. He also gave us a handy recommendation for a great public napping place when you’ve found yourself exhausted after a wild night of dive-bar hopping.
Check out Tone Bell’s guide to New Orleans, then take a look at the trailer for Can’t Cancel This, currently streaming on Showtime. Tone is definitely a comic we’re going to be hearing a lot more about in the years to come.
Best Thursday night drinking in New Orleans?
You need to like take those carbs in and then drink a lot of water and get ready for this dive bar situation that’s about to happen, especially in New Orleans. You start early enough. It’s going to be three-for-one. That’s a crazy happy hour. That’s all up and down Bourbon Street. Usually, that deal is at 20 bars starting at 11:00 a.m!
Best post-drinking nap spot?
Harrah’s Casino. It’s amazing. If you can get those slot machines and grab one handle, put your forehead on the machine, people just think you’re hammered. You’ll probably get away with about 90 minutes in there of a good power napping if you play your cards right.
You get like a nice non-smokey dim lit part of the casino. You can probably get in some good zzz’s on that one.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in New Orleans?
We Dat’s Chicken and Shrimp. Unbelievable. Owned by this dude named Greg Tillery. Oh, my God. There’s one on Canal and there’s one like in the Warehouse District. Man, it’s just like wings and catfish and shrimp. Amazing.
What’s your favorite New Orleans memory?
The aggressive medallion.
My very first Mardi Gras, I’m standing on the balcony… We’re throwing beads — flash — give beads, whatever. Then, some balcony threw… these beads, and one had like a medallion on the bottom of it, and this girl caught it and the medallion swung up and hit her in the tooth, and knocked her tooth out! Before noon. Before noon — before noon at Mardi Gras. You know, that ruins your whole trip. You got to go get a tooth. “I flashed my tits and I lost a tooth.” We watched her and were like, “Holy shit. This motherfucker just lost a tooth.”
It was so sad at the moment, she flashed a beautiful pair of breasts and she deserves this medallion and that medallion did not do its job. That medallion was aggressive from the start and just took this chick’s tooth out. I felt terrible. I went back inside. I was like, “I cannot. I can’t watch this anymore. She deserves better.”
What is one thing everyone has to experience when visiting New Orleans?
You got to do a Hand Grenade on Bourbon Street just to say you did it once [the drink is literally served in a green, plastic, translucent glass, the shape of a grenade — and has been since ’92]. It’s touristy, but it’s also like, “Yeah. I did that.” It’s like riding the Ferris wheel. It’s like your fucking coconut drink in Hawaii. You probably don’t want it, but you want the photo.
Have you ever had a Hand Grenade? You can only drink it when it’s full of ice. If that shit heats up at all, you’re going to tear your stomach out. Your stomach will fall out of your ass. I think you have to have it and you got to get your photo to say, “I’ve done that.”
There’s also a drink that nobody knows about and it’s at a place called Port of Call — dope ass hamburger spot — where they have a drink called a Monsoon. If you can get that down, your night is going to be amazing.
Best place to go post smoke-session?
Well, I only smoke at home but if I had to be out, it would be at Barcadia — where they have every type of arcade game you can imagine.
Name one thing you haven’t experienced in New Orleans that is on your to-do list.
Ride a Mardi Gras float.
I would like to ride a Mardi Gras float. I’ve seen Mardi Gras from up top, but I’d love to like be in the parade. I think that’d be kind of dope.
Where is the best place to grab a slice of pizza?
If you’re walking down Bourbon Street, any daiquiri place! Any daiquiri place is the best with pizza because, by the time you get all the way down, it all looks the same, it tastes the same. It’s $1.50 a slice that’ll keep me alive. That’s all it is.
There’s no love put into it. It’s on every corner, so that’s the best pizza around. You don’t even want good pizza by the time you get it. You want a shitty slice of pizza. You want cardboard and cheese. You just got to stuff it down and keep going… They’re all amazingly gross.
What do you hate about New Orleans?
That you’ll never be able to wear a brand new pair of white shoes because Bourbon Street is so fucking dirty. It’s a beautiful street, but wear old chucks or something. Don’t disappoint yourself. You should know what it’s going to be. If you got a brand new pair of Jordan Ones in New Orleans, you’re only going to end up mad at you. I’m telling you now: do not wear nice shoes on that dirty ass cobblestone.
You’re going to look up and try to see sights and somebody’s going to step on your shoes, you’re going to be mad, you’re trying to get into a fight for no reason. But you read this interview. You know better and you’re still wearing your new shoes out there trying to impress some chick that can’t even see your feet. Just wear some old shoes and enjoy yourself.
What’s the thing that you’re most fond of about the audience in New Orleans?
It’s so diverse. I think it’s more diverse than really anywhere else. You got a little of everything whether it be like some tourists or just like locals who live right around there. Black, white, gray, everything in between and it’s like it’s such a weird mix of audience. I see diverse audiences all the time, but the makeup of these audiences, the demo’s so different.
It’s nice to see everyone can be on the same page because you can go somewhere in the midwest and get 30-year-olds to 60-year-olds of a certain bracket who make a certain amount of money, but here, people … You can tell, aren’t doing as well, probably got a free ticket, or some dude who’s like, “I brought my whole family out.” Everybody gets along, and it’s so relatable.
I think that’s why the food is so good. I think that has the same kind of flavor. People just love the culture. They love the food and they hang out together no matter what their differences are.
Describe New Orleans with one word off the top of your head