Comedian Reno Collier is about to hit the open road with a few American families in tow when Great American Road Trip
premieres on Tuesday, July 7 at 8 PM ET on NBC. Collier recently held a conference call to discuss the new reality series he's hosting, and here's what he had to say.
What's the criteria for the family? How are the families chosen?
Reno Collier: They would make a video. They basically chose whatever they wanted to video themselves doing, as far as I know, just what I saw. So it was like, I guess, they would be at their house or they would be somewhere close to their house. They would go out, they would explain, you know, hey we're whoever their name is, where they're from, what their interests are, you know, kind of - a lot of it was they were competitive or you know, they - athletic, whatever it was. They would just define their own family in their own words, and what I thought was hilarious because they're just - they're all fired up because, you know, they want to be on TV.
And did it help for the families to be as vivacious and lively as possible just so they make good TV?
Reno Collier: Not really - like they're all different. The families come from every region of the country and some of them are really excited; some of them are kind of laid back. You know, it was a great group as far as it's not a bunch weirdoes, you know what I mean? It's not like just out of control character people, its real families.
So I'm just wondering about maybe your own personal, you know, whacky road trip experiences with either friends or family. And, you know, if you could have hacked it with your family, you know, going on this show as a kid.
Reno Collier: Well road trip - well like I've been a touring comedian for 13 years, so most of that traveling is by myself. And now I have a wife and kids and we just did when we got done, a nine hour drive to see their great-grandparents. And yeah, I don't know man, I think if my kids were older - it was... My favorite of the show was watching the families have to - they're forced to get along. I mean they don't have cell phones; the kids don't have video games, and they're in those RVs. So my favorite part was watching them come together. Where I thought they would explode and they would come apart, they actually got closer together. But road trips for me - like when I was a kid, I mean, I was an only child so I'd like lay in the back window of the car. And we'd drive from Virginia to Florida and I'd just look out the window and like, you know, fake shoot at truckers and, you know - it was like...
Make them like honk their horns.
Reno Collier: Oh yeah, that was the best. You know, and you just eat candy and play stupid games looking for license plates. And, you know, it was always fun because like I'd go - we'd play that license plate game and I'd always like - I'd write down like five that I had to find and then I'd give my mom like Alaska would be one of hers and Hawaii would be one of my dad's so I had to win every single time.
And then as far as, you know, you mentioned you are obviously a touring comedian and everything and I know you've worked with Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy and what not, have you ever toured with those guys? And if so, I could imagine that tour bus being pretty crazy?
Reno Collier: Yeah, like the past 3-1/2 years I've been on tour with Larry the Cable Guy and that's all on the tour bus and stuff like that. The thing is, is like it would have been crazier if it was like ten years ago. But now we're all married and have kids ad it was really kind of lame. Like my friends would come out and be like, oh man, the tour bus. We're going to blow it out. And they get in the back and there's like spit cups and a couple of beer bottles and like an empty pizza box. We're all chubby and too tired to do anything fun. It definitely wasn't poison.
Now in the press release it said the family will win dream prize. Any idea what that prize is going to be?
Reno Collier: They won money. But really, I mean like just in - as the show went on and I watched it, the money kind of wasn't even a part of it. Like everybody wanted to finish the vacation. And I don't know if that's because of - you know, like the way the economy is or - because I mean it - you know, most people can't afford right now to get an RV and travel Route 66 you know, with their family and let them get to see basically the entire country. So that kind of became more the -- I don't know what the right word is -- that became the heart of the show more than money. Not many people really talked about money. It was really the trip. I mean it was weird the way that they - especially the dads and the moms really wanted to give their kids this trip. So it was - that became the most important part. Even in the challenges like when people were talking about what was going on, it was to keep going on the vacation like - that's what people would say. Like if they thought they were going to lose they were like, our vacation's over. So it's not - it wasn't really like a, you know, you're going to win $10 million and we got to get that money and we'll back stab everybody to get it. It was more the family trying to work together to continue on their vacation to make it to the end.
Is it wrapped around - like is it a traditional race or is it...
Reno Collier: No man. You know what, everybody - it looks - some people think it looks like that. I mean, it would be illegal to take families and stick them in an RV and be like, drive as fast as you can from Chicago. But just because of the way other shows are, it's like oh, they have to be racing. But we went really slow man. Like it wasn't a race at all. They'd go all down Route 66 and then we'd stop at like iconic landmarks, you know, like the Archway in St. Louis or the Grand Canyon. Then once we stopped they would compete in different kinds of challenges to try to stay on the vacation. And then, you know, every episode somebody would have to - their vacation would end. And that's kind of where it became more about the vacation than money or prizes or anything.
What are some of the less obvious landmarks? Like is there the Big Ball of Twine and stuff like that?
Reno Collier: Yeah, there's like the world's biggest bottle of ketchup, you know, and there is one. Like somebody - you know, went out and made it. There's a lot of really cool restaurants -- landmark type stuff -- you know, like the MidPoint Café, which that little area is what the movie Cars was based on. And it's kind of - so they were on Route 66 in that movie too. And it was funny, I mean. When we see the little town after seeing - I mean I don't obviously see the world in cartoon, but you could look at that and go like, "wow," that's from that. And like the waitress at the MidPoint Café was actually - a character was based on her. And, you know, then at the same time, like we - I got to - we pulled over for gas and this guy came up to me and told me that Mater was based on him because he could spin his legs completely around backwards and that's how Mater - and he spun his leg around. His name was like Crazy Legs something. Like you know what I mean? So it was one of those odd mixes of meeting the people and seeing the places. And you had, you know, the Grand Canyon and, you know, these beautiful - Sedona and these beautiful places. But then, you know, there's a lot of people along the way too.
I'm wondering - I mean did your family actually get to come with you while you guys were filming this at all; like your own kids?
Reno Collier: No, they came out for the end of it. They came out and got to watch the last parts of it. But my kids, they had vacation bible school and a bunch of other stuff. It's cool for the other families to go and do it, but my kids are six and three and it was a long drive.
When I think of the description of the show, you know, I can't help but think of The Amazing Race because they're going to be going to so many different places. But it also sounds like it's going to be more of a comedic version of that. Is that kind of right on?
Reno Collier: It is except there's no race. There's no time. Like people don't have to get from Point A to Point B in any period of time. So - I mean honestly, it took us forever. I mean it was the opposite of that. Like I mean - and when you watch it you'll see. I mean some of these people are driving an RV - they've never driven a van before and these RVs are huge, you know. So, it was actually letting people have time to take their time and enjoy what they see along the road as opposed to speeding through everything.
You guys started at Wrigley Field, right? What was that like?
Reno Collier: Unbelievable. It was - this is the first show that I've ever hosted like this. And aside from my chiseled looks I wasn't exactly sure why they picked me. But it was really weird because I'm a huge baseball fan. They take me in to Wrigley Field and they're like okay, you're going to start in center field and you're just going to start walking towards the pitcher's mound. And then while you're doing that a helicopter is going to fly over top and they're going to be filming you while you're doing it and you're not going to see anybody else in here. So like I'm kind of out there in my brain, you know, acting like I'm getting called out. Like they're calling out the right-hander and I'm coming out of the outfield to the pitcher's mound. But I was so nervous, when I started walking and the helicopter flew over, I was going like, please god don't let me trip and eat it out in the middle of Wrigley Field. Because it almost feels like -- and this is going to sound like I'm out of my mind -- but it almost - you know when you go to a place that's really old and has that much history and it's empty and the flags are waving from 100 whatever years ago when they last won the pennant -- it felt like ghostly almost or just really cool man. It was - it's - I've watched it - I've seen it on TV so much and I've never gotten to go to a game. But to be standing out there by myself, I was blown away by it.
Have you ever traveled Route 66 before?
Reno Collier: Bits and pieces of it. When I was a comedian when I - you know, like driving around, I lived out of my car for like four years where I had no apartment. So I would take every gig I could possibly get which would mean that I could be in Lubbock, Texas one night then, you know, Albuquerque the next night. But I always was late so I wasn't on Route 66, I would take the highway. But every once in a while, you know, it crisscrosses back and forth. So you pull over and, you know, maybe stay in a hotel or something or, you know, whatever. But I hadn't traveled it in its entirety even close.
Great American Road Trip, hosted by Reno Collier, will premiere on Tuesday, July 7 at 8 PM ET on NBC.