Riding Shotgun with Zach Anner
It takes seven hours to drive from Buffalo, N.Y., to the glitziest strip club in Montreal, but today Zach Anner will make that trip. He and his friends in comedy troupe Lark the Beard expect to make it by mid-afternoon. By then, all bets will be off.
"We don't really know if we're supposed to assimilate entirely into French culture or what," Anner confessed to the Daily Dot from Buffalo, his hometown. "Everybody who's made a video for us has said at some point that we should go to a strip club. We haven't bought any berets or anything, but we're going to try some poutine."
The YouTube funnyman was born with cerebral palsy, a disease that’s debilitated his ability to walk and perform most daily functions. Inner has embraced the disease. He considers it “the sexiest of the palsies” and has turned his condition into a major component of his act, which has earned him a slew of fans around Reddit, 4Chan, Facebook, and Twitter.
Last year, he came into the national spotlight when the Oprah Winfrey Network elected to host Rollin’ with Zach, a fan-appointed travel show that ran for six episodes.
Riding Shotgun, a 5,000 mile Reddit-enabled Web series is like a crowdsourced extension of that idea. Anner and his crew will cruise through eight cities over the next six weeks, starting in Montreal. While in each city, the team will carry out a number of objectives and localized activities bestowed upon them by local redditors.
Why redditors? Those are the folks that love him most. And as the massive site’s cofounder Alexis Ohanian will attest, the two make for a perfect fit.
“I'm pretty sure I reached out to him just to say how awesome he was,” Ohanian told the Daily Dot. “When I heard his show got canceled I was bummed, but not terribly surprised, so we started scheming about how Breadpig [Ohanian’s latest startup] could help get him back—and with an ideal format!”
Anner has spent the past two weeks encouraging redditors to leave their videos and proposals at his subreddit, r/TheRealZachAnner. When he gets to each city, he plans to get in touch with the original posters and run with the plan.
"I think we're lucky that we're not doing a show through Craigslist," he said.
"Then we'd just get some real weird people. I trust Reddit. I trust Reddit not to have a bunch of torture tools in their basement. It's a more conscious crowd."
Their goal is to immerse themselves within each city. Their problem is that they're not sure how that's going to happen.
"The whole thing is pretty much a risk," Anner said. "My motto for this kind of thing is always to just go for it and work out the problems later.
"I think the biggest risk is going to be spending all that time in a car with four dudes. That's the biggest risk: will we still be able to stand each other at the end of this. Plus, I think that it's going to be interesting working in these close quarters and seeing if we're going to meet up with people in each city."
Anner plans to spend four days in Montreal before high tailing it to Boston for another three. From there, the road will take him through Baltimore, Md.; Blacksburg, Va.; Savannah, Ga.; New Orleans, La.; and Denver, Colo., before wrapping up their trip in Vancouver on Sept. 9.
After they make it back to Anner's home in Austin, Texas, Anner and his crew will break up the tape and turn their experiences into a series of episodes that they'll post to Anner's YouTube channel throughout the fall.
Anner said they'll post vignettes of their trip along the way—short stories and "crazy, flyer type stuff" with fellow redditors and giving appropriate people a spotlight when they can.
"This whole thing could just be a giant, continual, perpetual screw up," Anner said. "When you're doing something that is so codependent on audience interaction, you never know what you're going to get. I've let go of all thoughts about this being perfect."
Photo via YouTube