Geico Caveman Turns Wild West Sheriff: 10 Questions With John Lehr

John Lehr stands in front of the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas. (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)

John Lehr plays a sharp-shooting, Harvard-educated sheriff on the Hulu original series “Quick Draw.” Yahoo Travel met up with the comedian at Dodge City Days in Kansas, where he dished on his show, his former life as the Geico caveman, and where to find the best barbecue in Kansas City.

Before we get started — you were the Geico caveman? I love those commercials.

Yes, I am the most famous unrecognizable person you’ll ever meet. I did over 25 national spots. I was in the very first one where I threw the boom mic down and said “Not cool.” I was the one dancing, I was the one with Billie Jean King. It was fantastic! The makeup took three hours to get on and one hour to take off.  After about six hours of having it on, it started to freak me out, but overall, the experience was a blast.

Lehr posing as his alter ego — the Geico caveman. (Photo: AP)

You grew up in Kansas City. What is your favorite thing about the state?

1. The Chiefs

2. The barbecue is amazing

3. Flint Hills is a gorgeous area.

What is your favorite place to get barbecue in Kansas?

I love Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue. The sauce is unbelievable.

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Why did you come to Dodge City Days?

My friend Chris Reedy works for the company that manages Boot Hill Casino. He called me and was like, “You should come to Dodge City,” and I was like “Absolutely!” My show, “Quick Draw,” takes place in Great Bend, which is right by Dodge City, so I thought it would be a really fun experience.

What was your favorite thing about Dodge City Days?

I have to say Boothill Casino did a fantastic job. The high point for me was being named an honorary marshal of Dodge City. Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy,  Duke Ellington — these are all guys who were previously honored. So being added to that group feels pretty cool. 

So tell me about your show, “Quick Draw.” It’s a western, right?

It’s a comedy western. I play Sheriff John Henry Hoyle, who is a new sheriff in Great Bend. He graduated from Harvard, where he learned the latest in forensic science skills — so he’s kind of this pompous guy who’s not your typical cowboy. He’ll let you know that he went to Harvard in the first two minutes of every conversation. But he’s an incredible shot, so that saves him, and the town loves that.

There’s a new sheriff in town. Lehr during a skit at Dodge City Days.

The show takes place in Great Bend. Why?

I knew that I wanted the show to be set in Kansas, because I knew a lot of the state’s history. For instance, we did an episode about the Bloody Benders who were the first family of serial killers in Kansas, and it is a real story I grew up hearing. There’s even a museum about the Benders. It’s really creepy, but I highly recommend it.

We chose Great Bend because I knew we wouldn’t have a set big enough in L.A. to represent Dodge City. So me and my partner  Nancy Hower, who also directs and co-writes the show, chose Great Bend because it was also a cattle-rustling, Wild West town.

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Would you ever come to Dodge City to shoot?

We would love to. That was our hidden agenda about coming out here. In addition to doing press for the show, we also wanted to scout it out because we would love to come out. We have to get a pickup, and budget, and all that, but I think it’s possible.

So are you a Wild West expert now?

I’ve learned a ton of stuff. But walking through the Boot Hill museum, I picked up a lot of stuff that I didn’t already know from my research — particularly about the women they called “doves.” It was all very interesting, because the female characters in our show are superpowerful, and we center on them a lot.

The Boot Hill Museum houses artifacts from the Wild West.

Which is more fun, being a caveman or a sheriff?

Definitely playing a sheriff. The Geico caveman was hard because of the makeup and stuff. Playing a sheriff, I get to be on a horse! How many comedians get to ride a horse and shoot a gun? None. Ever. And it’s my show, so that makes it special.

Season 2 of “Quick Draw” premieres on Hulu on Thursday, August 7. 

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