His lawyer, John Edwards, now a North Carolina senator and the Democratic vice presidential candidate, helped him receive $4 million in damages.
But even Edwards' famed skill as a trial attorney would have been challenged if Passé had gotten into an accident while driving a car bearing a yellow sign that read: "Caution! Blindfolded Driver." "I obviously practiced to the point where I felt confident," said Passé, who made the six-day 3,000-mile trip with his wife and a stage assistant, who were barred from any backseat driving.
"My biggest fear was that other drivers would be freaked out. My wife took some great pictures of motorists passing the car, if you want to see some funny faces."
Passé, who uses a wheelchair on stage, still performs as a magician. He's also an intellectual property lawyer, and the legal ramifications of blindfolded driving did concern him.
"As it turns out, Alabama is the only state that expressly forbids blindfolded driving," he says. "Of course, we did meet some concerned policemen along the way, and they had a few questions."
Passé arrived accident free, and his odyssey raised more than $25,000 to benefit medical research for paraplegics. The hardest part of his trip: "Getting out of New York," he says. "Everybody there drives like they're blind."
3. Bicycle Comic Pedals Jokes Everywhere
Pardon the schtick, but stand-up comic Tom Snyder works a lot on the road — and that's not just because he's been homeless for most of his adult life.
Snyder has been biking to every gig for 18 years, logging 126,000 miles between comedy clubs — enough to cross the country 40 times.
"It all started by accident," says Snyder, "a car accident."
In 1987, when his beat-up jalopy died outside of Las Vegas, Snyder strapped what he could onto his bike. Flat broke, the 25-year-old fledgling comic parleyed a $10 chip coupon at the Tropicana casino into $200, just enough to convince himself that he could bike 1,600 miles to his next show in Omaha. Here's the punch line: 200 miles from the venue, Snyder found out that that club burned down. Luckily, the comedy club circuit was booming. He just biked to the next gig.
"I didn't think I'd be on the bike so long," he said. "But the other comics said it was such a great gimmick, and it just worked out."
For a while, he jokingly tried to sell billboard space on his handlebars, posting a "Your Ad Here" sign, space that Drew Carey once offered to buy.
At 43, Snyder is still biking most of the year, although he's got a winter place in Key West, and he's just released a photo collection of curious road signs in National Lampoon's Big Book of True Facts.
Among Snyder's favorite signs: "Die Seven Miles Ahead" on a road near Die, Pa., and a posting that can be found outside several prisons: "Warning! Hitchhikers May Be Escaped Inmates."
4. Lawn Mower Man Ready for Another Cut
You'd think that people would learn your name once you've become the first man to cross the country twice on a lawn mower. Nevertheless, lawn legend Brad Hauser is not the guy who was featured in the David Lynch movie The Straight Story.
In 1999, Richard Farnsworth earned an Oscar nomination for his role in that film, based on the story of a 73-year-old man who drives his lawn mower from Laurens, Iowa, to Mount Zion, Wis., to visit his dying brother.
That same year, Hauser made his first transcontinental lawn mower ride, from Beaver, Utah, to Washington, D.C., raising $200,000 for Keep America Beautiful.