Mark Lundholm and Kurtis Matthews have been on the road for a long time -- to recovery.
Collectively known as the Addicts, the duo is touring the country to make people think and talk about drug addiction -- and laugh.
"It's more than just a comedy show," Matthews said of the tour they've been doing for a couple of years. "It's really a gathering of like souls that find value in it and lift us up as we try to lift them up. We're funny and our show is normal-people friendly. We just have a deeper message. ... It's a little medicine and a little sugar at the same time."
Together, he and Lundholm have been sober for 50 years.
Comedy helps them -- and others, they've been told -- stay that way. They will share their stories at Hyena's Comedy Club in Dallas on July 24.
The two have been in comedy almost as long as each has been in recovery.
"Mark and I have both been pro comics for 30 years. Mark's always kind of focused on being in the recovery arena. I was in the normal comedy arena, but also in recovery and we'd been friends for a long time," Matthews said. "We just came together and said, 'You know what, let's go talk to audiences that kind of understand who we are from the get. Let's just go be of service.'
"It's not about being famous. Let's go talk to people that are very similar to us and share our stories. There's a little more depth in our audiences and we can cover more topics that would be shocking in a regular bar situation. We try to get real honest real quick and the people understand our version of insanity, and narcissism, of recovery."
Matthews has been touring since 1984 and starred in find me the funny on BBC. He founded the San Francisco Comedy College in 1999 and still runs it. Lundholm had a one-man show off-Broadway and is the creator of a DVD series, Humor in Treatment. He also created the Recovery Board Game and has a new DVD series called Family in Treatment. He's also working on a book and a television series, along with his work at treatment centers.
And they both perform at conventions during the weekends.
"We have pretty full lives," Matthews said proudly, and laughs. "I think both of us are single again, so that gives us some space."
So, this tour is a labor of true love. And the name of the act, the Addicts, is as up front and in your face as the act itself is. Matthews thinks it's "helpful when more people are public about the recovery without being specific about who they are or where they go."
He added that they don't represent any anonymous group; they blew their anonymity long ago. And this show can help family members and others start the conversation with someone who may need the recovery.
"We just represent our journey. We're in recovery, and we're public about that," Matthews said. "If our show is not only funny that you find in a comedy show but also saves a life, I'm willing to be stigmatized if that's the case. ... This is who we are. We don't hide it."
Besides, it's entertainment, too, and opens up more of the world to those in recovery or dealing with it otherwise.
"It allows people to come to a new arena of entertainment that maybe they're afraid to go to," he said. "Because a number of people that are clean and sober don't want to go to some toxic bar. ... Comedy for them is really unsafe. So we try to make it safe again."
The goals for the tour are simple, to bring awareness, and let people know that "longtime sobriety is possible."
And there's one other thing: hope.
"For me, it saved my life," he said. "There's always hope and there's always humor. Everybody's got challenges. We're not there going, 'Hey, we're alcoholic, drug addicts and that's somehow special,' because everybody's got something. So I think our story really is about redemption and that it's possible for anyone.
"No matter who you are, it's possible to get second and third chances and do something with them that are decent."
Hyena's is inside Mockingbird Station, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, in Dallas. Admission is $20. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.