Comedian, author and public access TV show host Chris Gethard is embarking on a journey that no sane person should ever attempt: walking from Los Angeles to Tennessee with nothing but a camera crew and strangers he met on the Internet to help him.
There's no telling what sort of antics Gethard (pronounced Geth-urd for you clever commenters) will get into on his trek from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angles to his show at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN on June 7. Once he walks off the UCB stage tonight, May 29, he has just nine days to travel over 2,000 miles to the festival's main stage, and by the looks of his latest tweets, he's not exactly what we'd call "prepared:"
The only way Gethard can feasibly complete this epic journey is to rely on the kindness of strangers. As he explains in the video below, people can offer food, transportation or shelter to his cause by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and as evidenced by the following Q&A, he's going to need all the help he can get.
Read about Gethard's preparations for his trip in the Q&A below, including the craziest things people have offered him so far, what he plans to do if he gets arrested and what movies have prepared him for life on the road. You can follow his adventures (or misadventures) over the next nine days on The Chris Gethard Show website, on Twitter with the hashtag #BonnarooGethardand on the Bonnaroo YouTube channel.
HuffPost Comedy: First of all: why are you doing this?
Chris Gethard: "I feel like it's theoretically a smart thing to do, but as we get closer I realize it's probably not a physically smart thing to do. After they booked The Chris Gethard show at Bonnaroo, we wanted to do something different, you know, really push the limits of the show. We wanted to go big. We really had a lot of fun trying to see what was possible and then people came around and formed a community around the idea. Bonnaroo has a reputation for being a community-driven thing so I thought of walking to Bonnaroo as a sort of test of that community."
HPC: So it's kind of an interactive experiment?
CG: "I guess that at the end of the day you can't get more interactive than a comedian who shows up at your actual house. I'm putting my money where my mouth is. If you email me today, I might show up to your house on Wednesday."
HPC: You're not bringing money, a car or a phone with you. What are you bringing?
CG: "Well, most importantly I'm bringing a camera crew who are not only going to film and edit and upload things from the road, but they're also going to be there so if I collapse from dehydration then someone can bring me to the hospital. Hopefully I keep in close enough contact with the crew that I won't be out-right dead, hopefully they'll have water and protein bars, but I also don't want to live on just water and protein bars. That's really about all I'm giving myself. I have a binder with information from people who have already offered to help."
HPC: What kind of things have people offered up so far?
CG: "Mostly rides and places to stay and food. That's really nice. There are people though who are giving me almost ultimatums, like one guy said, 'You can stay with me but you have to eat whatever I say,' or another guy in Denver that said I'd have to watch his two kids while he's at work. One guy came out and asked if I could help him sell Jell-o shots in a parking lot so he could pay off legal fees incurred after selling ecstasy that a Canadian friend smuggled into America inside of her vagina. One guy in Kansas said I could drive around in a fire truck. One guy who lives about 30 miles from Bonnaroo and has a horse said he could lend it to me for the rest of my trip. I think if I trotted in victorious on horseback that would be awesome. I'll have to see if anyone has any other farm animals I could borrow, maybe I could show up with an entire menagerie."
HPC: That should be an oil painting.
CG: "That would make my dumb life."
HPC: Are there any red flags you're looking out for in the invitations?
CG: "There have been a lot of weird ones but they don't really scare me. The ones that scare me are the ones that offer no information, like, 'Come to Reno, I'm here.' I'm really obsessed with "Breaking Bad" and so when I get vague ones like that I’m like, 'This is some meth head that's going to rob me for my video equipment.' A guy in Louisiana said I could sleep in his house if he could project images of himself lying on top of me while I was sleeping. He even said 'I want to be clear that I do have an erection in a lot of the images.'"
HPC: That sounds pretty scary.
GC:"I mean, it will be uncomfortable but at least I know what I'm getting in to."
HPC: Are you bringing any kind of protection?
GC: "I own something called a manriki chain that I bought in college. It's basically a chain with a weight on the end. I'm not bringing a gun or a knife. I figure if there's a situation where I need one it'd probably be taken away and used on me. If I'm not killed on the trip there will hopefully be some footage of me desperately trying to survive by hitting someone with a weight on a chain."
HPC: You're pretty serious about the possibility of dying on this trip.
CG: "I mean... I hope I don't die. People have emailed me that it's stupid and dangerous, and I don't disagree. It's a really physically straining process and I hear it's really hot in the desert this time of year [laughs]. I haven't really researched that. I don't know... It would be a pretty interesting way to die. At least I'd be remembered.
HPC: How do you think your improv skills will help you along the way?
CG: "The biggest thing that improv has taught me in all areas of life is to say yes to everything. If you watch The Chris Gethard Show, it gets really crazy... That bleeds into everything I do, that attitude. If someone offers help and I don't know them or it seems maybe odd, I want to use my street smarts but otherwise, like in improv, you're taught to not really judge people and not try to create a perfect situation. I want to get into situations, say yes and extend it. If I hem and haw and refuse help because I'm nervous about it, I won't get there on time. I think that attitude of being open-minded and accepting and ready to get into trouble is going to be valuable."
HPC: What aren't you willing to do?
CG: "I won't perform sexual favors or hurt anyone or anything, like if someone offered me a ride but I had to shoot an animal, I wouldn't do that. I'm also willing to do stuff that embarrasses myself, but not others. I'd like to maintain basic human decency and pride. I'll suffer as much as I need to and I'll have as much fun as I want, but i don't want to make anyone else feel bad."
HPC: Have you watched any road movies to prepare yourself for the trip?
CG: "As far as road movies go, one of my favorites is -- and this is a depressing answer -- but one of my favorites is 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles.' That movie is all about how awful traveling is with the frustrations of other people, so maybe that's the best preparation. I did watch 'Easy Rider' a year ago but that movie is really strange and not something that I'd wish on someone doing the project I'm about to enter. I also saw 'The Warriors' so if I encounter a group of people in baseball uniforms I'll be really terrified... But that would make a good viral video, right?"
HPC: I would post that. Do you have any fear that you'll be arrested?
CG: "I thought a lot about what should happen if there's police interference. If I have to sleep on a park bench and I'm in a small town, there's a chance that we could get hassled and I'm not sure how well saying, 'I'm a comedian, this is an art project,' etc. would go over. I have to trust that I'll be able to explain any shred of sense in what I'm doing and not end up in jail. We want to walk the line of almost dying, almost getting arrested and almost getting killed by serial killers, but not, and hopefully have fun along the way.
HPC: What if you are arrested, though?
CG: "You mean waking up to the not-so-gentle prodding of a nightstick? I could deal with that. I'm sure somewhere out there there's a super bored sheriff with a mustache and aviators just drooling because he can mess with me. I mean, what if we get some footage of some cop saying 'Turn that fucking camera off!' and then no one ever hears from me again?"
HPC: Sort of like the end of 'The Blair Witch Project'?
CG: "Kind of, yeah. I hope people are less mildly dissatisfied as the ending of my project than they were at the end of 'The Blair Witch Project.'"
HPC: I hope you don't die.
CG: "Yeah, me too."
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