Comedian and host Mo Mandel visited Lubbock, Texas to see if it deserves its reputation as “The Most Boring Town in America.”
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This column is part of a promotional partnership with the Discovery Channel. “Small Town Throwdown” premieres Wednesday, May 20 at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel and discovery.com.
As a stand-up comedian who can’t have even the most basic conversation without trying to inject some laughter, my biggest fear is always being bored. So, when I heard that the Discovery Channel was sending me to Lubbock, Texas, which has been called, “The Most Boring Town in America,” to find out if it actually deserves its dull reputation, I felt chills running through my body.
Of course, “boring” is a subjective term. What’s boring to one, might be exhilarating to another. Every time my fiancee controls the remote, I’m bored to tears, while she’s glued to the TV, wondering what those Real Housewives are gonna do next!
With that said, the drive into Lubbock can easily put you to sleep, it’s flat, and the only roadside attractions are cows that look almost as bored as you are. So, once I got into town, I was determined to meet as many people as I could, in hopes of finding some excitement. And excitement I found, down at Flippers Tavern, a Lubbock staple that serves up the hottest mac and cheese this side of Hades. I was pressured into eating a bowl of this molten lava by a gaggle of local ranchers, who seemed to enjoy the sight of an out-of-towner burning a hole in his esophagus. They were also eager to share their thoughts on Lubbock’s “snoozefest” reputation, as one of them told me, “I almost take it kinda offensive when people say that it’s boring because this is me and this is my life.”
I felt their pain. Growing up in a remote town called Boonville, it always bothered me when kids in surrounding communities would make fun of my hometown, and call it “The Boonies” without realizing how much fun we were actually having there. And, as I came to find out, Lubbock knows how to enjoy itself as well, and in some rather unusual ways.
For instance, my new mac and cheese friends told me about a collegiate “sport” they play, called “meat judging.” And it’s exactly what it sounds like. You judge the quality of giant cuts of meat, based on a million specific parameters. It’s timed, competitive, and, as I can attest to, after having failed through a few rounds myself, it’s pretty damn exciting. As long as you’re the judge and not the meat.
This strange, “sport” as they insist on calling it, started to make even more sense when I saw Lubbock from the sky, in a glider plane, which is another unexpected activity they embrace, dating back to training glider pilots during WWII. From above, you can tell just how important ranching and agriculture is to Lubbock. This is cowboy country, something out of a storybook about the American West. So, after we somehow landed safely, in that sardine can of an airplane, I went straight to a rodeo to take in Lubbock in all its glory.
The rodeo was incredible, as you’ll see if you watch the episode. If I had more room, I’d tell you about how rock ‘n’ roll legend Buddy Holly is from Lubbock, and how Lubbock’s music scene still rocks today. The surrounding Lubbock area boasts a growing wine industry that supplies 80 percent of the wine grapes in Texas. But I don’t have room for all that, and, besides, you’re better off just going down there and experiencing it for yourself.
What I do have room to say, though, is that in my short time there, I got the sense that, far from being boring, Lubbock is a proud community that knows how to have fun in its own way, on its own terms. If you visit and don’t have a good time, honestly, they probably won’t be too bothered by it, and will just chalk it up to you being boring yourself, and simply not cowboy enough to know a good piece of meat when it’s staring you in the face.
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