My two favorite things on the face of the earth are travel and comedy. I love to go to new places, to see new things and eat new foods and — most of all — meet new people. And, when I can, I love to make people laugh. That’s why I was instantly, almost hysterically, excited to watch Hidden America, a parody travel show that’s streaming on Seeso.
With narration that makes subtle allusions to a volatile ex named Stacy, as well as quotes from Quotes.com and the musical garbage-fire that is Smash Mouth, Hidden America is easily one of the sharpest, most targeted parodies that I’ve ever seen. It takes dead aim at shows like Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover and creates a pitch perfect ventriloquist act that is an almost seamless recreation of its source material. But what I love most about Hidden America is that — all jokes aside — it’s an incredibly sincere call to travel.
The show is hosted by the extremely busy Jonah Ray, co-host of the Nerdist podcast, co-host of Comedy Central’s The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, and host of the upcoming revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (I know, right?).
In Hidden America, Ray plays a kind of heightened version of himself, one filled with hubris and self-loathing. It’s a big part of what makes the show work, because it spends as much time poking fun at Ray’s character as it does Bourdain. All things considered, it’s a brilliant performance, which is why I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to ask Jonah Ray a few questions about comedy, music, and the benefits of travel.