Zach Anner: The Best Thing to Happen To Travel, Maybe Ever.
The inner workings of my soul and a dark and hostile place. My husband has been with me for nearly 10 years, and there are still times when I will say something so full of vitriol and spite that he will look at me, his eyes wide, and whisper, “Jesus Christ, Geraldine.”
My response to this is usually to giggle, because it is always a comfort to know you can still surprise your husband, even if that surprise stems from his shock at how evil you are.
Funny thing, though – I tend to surround myself with things that are the opposite of my temperament:
- My friends are all sweethearts. They remember my birthday and don’t give me nicknames that start with the word “ass” (I cannot say the same of myself).
- I like twee movies that involve little conflict. I clap my hands when the two leads get together (so what if it’s predictable? I don’t know what city I’m in half the time – I NEED A LITTLE PREDICTABILITY.)
- Dessert marks the end, and occasionally also the beginning, of every meal of my life. Am I angelic? No. Do I like angel food cake? Yes. Yes, I do.
I seek out precisely what I am not. Perhaps that’s why I’m so stupidly smitten with Zach Anner.
A while back, the Oprah Winfrey Network set up a competition for folks who wanted their own TV shows. Aspiring tv-stars pitched ideas, and people could vote for their favorites online.
Anner was one of the folks who pitched an idea – you can see his Oprah audition tape here. He has cerebral palsy (which he describes as “the sexiest of palsies”) and requires a wheelchair to get around. His idea for a travel show was based on this premise. Thanks to his incredibly likeable and funny demeanor, and a hoard of rabid fans (including a passionate group of redditors), Zach received a slew of votes. His show, Rollin’ With Zach, will premiere on December 12th.
Based on his previous work, we can pretty much rest assured that it’s going to be best thing ever.
In the travel world, I encounter a lot of folks who ascribe to the church of Anthony Bourdain. I myself was a regular member of his congregation, watching delighted as he made snarky comments and gallivanted around the world. But after a while, I grew weary of the show. I have enough sarcasm and snide remarks in my life, courtesy of my own brain. I don’t need Mr. Bourdain’s as well.
Anner’s take on travel is markedly different. He manages to be smart without being a smart ass, upbeat without being treacly. He never really pokes fun at anyone besides himself, and yet he never comes across as self-pitying. Anner appears to be having the time of his life – genuinely enjoying what he’s doing and happy to take us along for the ride. It’s a far cry from Bourdain, who makes every episode seem like the consequence of a lost bet, or Rick Steves, who is only remarkable for his ability to make any destination as dull as central Canada.
I’ve compiled a few of Anner’s clips below. If you have a few moments, check them out. Be warned, though: I showed these to a coworker of my husband’s, explaining that Zach was “my secret boyfriend” and she and I began fighting over him. We have not spoken since (edit: we talked tonight. It was weird.)
- The video that started it all – Zach Anner’s Oprah audition
- In this less-travel-centric video, Anner fills us in on what he’s been up to (mostly doing a strip tease for Mickey Rourke.)
- In a preview of his show’s pilot episode, Anner visits Los Angeles and contemplates the fleeting nature of fame. Also, he eats a ginormous hot dog.
- In an amazing three-part series, Zach shows us around his hometown of Austin. He visits the capitol, gets carried to the top of a mountain (because he forgot to bring his manual wheelchair), and visits the Keep Austin Weird festival.
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