NewsAsiaA spectacular travel program for a comedian who doesn't like to leave home

A spectacular travel program for a comedian who doesn’t like to leave home

Comedian Eugene Levy doesn’t like to be cold. He doesn’t like to be hot either. He is worried about heights, talking to strangers, and also animals. He also does not consider himself very adventurous at the table. But Apple TV+ has decided to record him going around the world, from wildlife under the South African sun and the Costa Rican jungle to the ice of Lapland. He also visits urban centers, such as Lisbon, Tokyo and Venice. And he shows it to the viewer in the anti-travellerwhich can already be seen on the on-demand content platform.

The 76-year-old Canadian (seen in American Pie and in Schitt’s Creek) plays in this new format of eight episodes to exploit his most curmudgeonly vein to end up being surprised by the wonders that his destinations offer him. During a telematic conversation from London, the actor assures that his little desire to leave his comfort zone is genuine. “I don’t hate airports, but I hate the idea of ​​having to go through security. Having to take off your watch, your belt, what if your jacket, and your laptop, and your socks… And also that there are people yelling at you all the time what you have to do while you stand in a queue of 800 people. Your life suddenly becomes a miserable thing in many different ways,” he protests.

For this reason, when he received the call from the platform to offer him such a project, a proposal that would be a dream for most mortals, he said that he was not the man for this job, he recalls. He explained to them that he did not like to travel. Those responsible for the program, after thinking about it a bit, contacted him again to tell him that this inconvenience seemed even more interesting to them.

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This alluring world tour then came as a gift with a trick. It is not only about visiting the most exclusive hotels, although there is a lot of that, to the delight of the spectators. Levy faces situations considered extreme for someone as reserved as him. He has to accompany an expert fado singer on stage, bathe in icy water and collaborate with a group of veterinarians to explore the health of African elephants by inserting his arm into one of the animals’ rectum.

His mastery of improvisational comedy, carved out on settings like Toronto’s mythical The Second City, might seem helpful in the situations the program poses for him, but the truth is that it didn’t help much, he confesses. “It worked better to see me deal with my personal limitations, especially when it came to chatting with strangers, instead of trying to solve it with my professional experience,” she says on the other side of the screen.

Eugene Levy visits Lapland in the first chapter of ‘El antiviajero’ (Apple TV+).Ian Gavan

late surprises

Levy lived the great success of his career after more than 40 years working in Hollywood. The comedy Schitt’s Creek, released in 2015 and created together with his two children, Daniel and Sarah, lasted six seasons on the air, swept the Emmys and is already a cult title. So the veteran comedian is already used to taking advantage of the surprises that life gives him, no matter how much he protests in front of the cameras of the anti-traveller.

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Despite having been one of the most suffered, the episode dedicated to South Africa was one of the ones that will surprise the audience the most, infected by the permanent state of astonishment that he himself experienced during his visit, he advances. “I didn’t feel like going on a safari. He did not understand the grace of being at five in the morning in a jeep to see live animals that you can already see through a screen. But, once I was there, it was an amazing transformation. I began to feel a lot of connection with the landscapes, with the country and with its wild life, ”she defends. One of the things that impressed him the most was visiting a rhino conservation center. “Until then I thought it was one of the ugliest animals the planet has ever produced, like some bizarre, prehistoric thing that’s still there. But it was hard to see how they die or are badly injured at the hands of mercenaries and hunters. And how many hatchlings are abandoned ”, he continues. The team recorded in one of these centers, although without providing the exact location to protect them from poachers. “Seeing it as we show it on screen makes you realize that their lives are more than just a headline in a newspaper that you lament about just before you go about your day.”

The Lisbon chapter, even though it is a much less exotic environment, also exemplifies the open-mindedness that the space aims to infect the viewer. Through Levy’s eyes, the Portuguese capital is seen as a hidden jewel in southern Europe, on a historical and tourist level of other great icons of the continent such as Paris. “I barely knew anything about her. It is fascinating to discover that it is a place older than Rome. And that in its urban architecture winks at Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco. I remember reading about Portuguese explorers in school, but I didn’t know how much they had allowed other cultures to influence their own and the rest of Europe. It’s like tea was introduced into English culture through Portugal.”

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One of the luxurious hotels that Levy visits in 'El antiviajero', in this case in Lisbon.
One of the luxurious hotels that Levy visits in ‘El antiviajero’, in this case in Lisbon.AppleTV+

That little twist, that of having an unlikely presenter in this type of format, is the key that makes the difference. “The idea was not to make a comedy. Humor comes naturally because I am part of this story. But in all other respects, the anti-traveller It has to be as good a travel program as the next”, he comments.

After seeing his eight visits around the world and opening the door to the cliche, isn’t Eugene Levy too cynical to be Canadian? Perhaps he has spent too much time living in Los Angeles? “It is true that this attitude is very un-Canadian, but the city is not to blame. It’s because I’ve spent too much time in the entertainment industry,” he replies with a wry smile under his glasses.

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