Sewickley couple Nick and Kat Walker — who welcomed a 7-pound, 6-ounce daughter 17 months ago — now have a bigger baby on their hands: a 40-foot, 15-ton Blue Bird Bus that will soon become a mobile comedy club.
Starting June 8, The Burgh Bus will hit the road for two-hour sightseeing tours of the city. Tickets ($30) are available online.
A rotating lineup of local comedians will provide PG-13-rated commentary on every excursion, giving up to 44 passengers a reason to laugh as they sit in traffic. On Friday and Saturday nights, the bus will be an adults-only domain. It’s BYOB, but glass bottles are prohibited. The Walkers recently partnered with Pittsburgh Brewing Company to offer complimentary I.C. Lights on select tours for passengers with proper ID.
Each journey will start and end at 1057 Penn Ave., Downtown near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Once the Walkers complete their inaugural season, they plan to venture off their designated route and offer themed outings focusing on everything from breweries, regional history and sports to filming locations, drag shows and kid-friendly trips. The Burgh Bus will also be available for private tours and shuttle service.
So what drove the Walkers to start this business? Their love of Pittsburgh.
When the Florida natives were looking for a place to lay down roots, they spent time traveling to find the right fit.
While in Asheville, North Carolina, they discovered LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours, a fleet of purple buses that tool around town offering zany, onboard shows. That got the Walkers’ wheels turning.
When they visited Pittsburgh, they fell in love with the city and its culture, which includes an influx of new comedy institutions such as the Steel City Arts Foundation, along with roving bars and unique sightseeing tours on land, air and water. Now, they’ve been bonafide yinzers since 2015.
Nick Walker thinks The Burgh Bus will be a draw to visitors and lifelong residents alike.
“It’s new to Pittsburgh, it celebrates Pittsburgh and it gives people a different view of the city,” he says.
Two years ago, the couple bought a yellow school bus and had it painted black. New floors, color-changing lights, a sound system, fans, a podium and storage bins were installed. The backs of the original seats now have wooden slats, making the interior appear more spacious. The glass in the windows was removed to give riders a better view. Clear, plastic curtains can be pulled down if it starts to rain.
The Burgh Bus is now looking for comedians and motorists with a Commercial Driver’s License. Nick Walker, who passed his CDL test, has been spending time navigating around the region’s hilly terrain, narrow streets — and potholes. A backup camera on the bus allows him to exit the small Brighton Heights garage with ease.
Eventually, the Walkers would like to have a fleet of Burgh Buses. But, with 100-gallon gas tanks and skyrocketing pump prices, they know that filling them is no laughing matter.