Travel shows can take on plenty of different forms. You got travel shows that focus on culture, food, sports, music, beaches, luxury, you name it. But what about a travel show for funny dudes that want to film themselves experiencing crazy shit. This is what Mancations is all about. It’s an unscripted comedy duo travel show that premiers on The Travel Channel this weekend (Sunday, 9pm).  Mancations follows two lifelong friends, comedians Evan Mann and Gareth Reynolds, as they take on manly, bucket-list style challenges in different spots across the country.

These two funny dudes find the lighter side of things as they try stuff like Ninja school, Space Camp, Civil War reenactments, crab boat fishing, MMA fighting, Navy SEAL training and extreme watersports. The show takes Evan and Gareth out of their comfort zone and exposes them to these super serious, extra-masculine experiences. These guys have been performing improv together for the past 10 years, so they highlight the humor and find room for laughs as they try out all this crazy stuff. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

I talked with Evan and Gareth a few weeks ago while they were getting ready for a Civil War reenactment. We discussed the duo’s improv background, the show’s origin and the most enjoyable experiences they’ve had so far. Here’s full interview:

CS: How did you guys come up with the idea for the show?

EM: Well there was actually an article in the Wall Street Journal that was talking about Mancations. Gareth and I have been friends for like the last 13 years and have done a lot of stuff all throughout the country together. One of the things we did actually was we made a video a few years ago where we went to the Testicle Festival in Missoula, Montana. We documented it and made it into a video and it’s kind of one of the funniest things we’ve ever made. It seemed like a great idea for a show.

GR: I think we’ve kind of taken the idea of just sort of showing up at a place and being off-the-cuff and kind of in the element of the certain place and then kind of tying it into – like I’ve been saying – this Wall Street Journal article that’s really themed towards men’s vacations or guy getaway trips or something like that.

EM: Right.

CS: So what’s the most enjoyable experience that you guys have had so far?

GR: We’ve done some pretty crazy shit in the last month.

EM: For me it was when we flew out in these things in Arizona called “Ultralight Trikes” which are basically like motorcycles with wings that are controlled like a hang glider. They get up to like 10,000 feet. They corkscrew, they go super fast. Just you and the pilot in these really small things. It’s crazy. I mean they’re so light you can just flip them over. You could take off and land so easily, you can land anywhere. We were flying all through the desert, in between cactuses one second and then in the next second we would jet up to 3,000 feet and then right back down over the top of a lake. That was incredible.

GR: For me it was we went to Space Camp. Kind of capped it all off by going to Florida to do micro gravity which is just like weightlessness in the back of a vomit comet.

CS: (laughs)

GR: Which is terrifying and so surreal. We were actually just watching a ton of the episode, watching the first time Evan floats and the expression on his face …

EM: When we were at Space Camp we were just telling people we were gonna do it. These are people who have devoted their lives to space and they were so jealous. Then to actually do it and watch your body float, and float yourself, have water float in front of you, it’s just like- it feels like-

GR: It feels fake.

EM: It’s definitely one of those experiences that you can’t ever prepare for. You just have no idea what it feels like until you’re actually in the back of that cabin floating around in zero gravity.

GR: Yeah.

CS: Did you guys come up with the target list of things you wanted to do or was it a collaborative effort?

EM: Yes.

GR: Yeah.

EM: Yeah we did. We did back and forth with the network obviously, but when we got picked up for the series, after we made the pilot, we created a list of like 45 places. Places we’ve always wanted to go, also things we’re terrified of, just kind of a nice combination of things we think will 1) Make for good TV and 2) Things that we’ve always wanted to do.

GR: Also what’s really weird is that we’re producing it so we’re spending two months in an office just coming up with the craziest shit we can think of and then to actually shift gears to actually being the people who are going to be doing it – it’s almost like you really just kind of back yourself into a corner and we’re like we are actually the people who are going to do these insane activities.

EM: Right. I mean you know right now we’re in Jefferson, Texas about to head to a Civil War reenactment. If you had asked me a year ago if I had ever in my entire life done a Civil War reenactment, I’m pretty sure the answer would have been “no.” But it’s something that’s interesting and loaded with characters and hopefully potentially really funny so here we are.

CS: So you guys have an improv background, where did you guys initially start doing improv?

GR: We actually met at Emerson College in Boston, we started doing sketch comedy and improv and then we met up in LA and we basically started a sketch group. Then that sort of bled into us making online videos and then that really got us into this campaign that we did where we just traveled the country talking to a ton of girls. And the way we shot it was really similar to the kind of way we’re doing this in the sense that we know where we’re going, we have an idea of who we’re going to meet, but we’re really – in this process – kind of married to the idea of keeping it realistic. I think it plays to our strengths in the sense that it is all just … it’s very improvy. We’re in a scene and wherever we are, we’re trying to make it funny. The way that we’ve done a lot of stuff is we’ll just kind of come up with an idea and then sort of just make it up as we go along with the structure.

EM: Yeah. And I think what’s great about this show is that the comedy kind of comes from the fish-out-of-water element. We just spent a week in the Poconos at Ninja Camp. Neither Gareth or I have really any martial arts training.

CS: (laughs)

EM: Certainly not ninjas. We spent the better part of a week battling ninjas, learning hand to hand combat, weapons training, it was just ridiculous – and invisibility training. I think it was probably one of the funniest episodes that we’ve done so far and a lot of that comes from dealing with very serious people and us just trying to immerse ourselves in these new experiences.

GR: Yeah. You could almost say we went to immersterston, get it Ev?

EM: Yeah.

CS: (laughs)

EM: But yeah our background is comedy/improve/sketch and that really is what we started doing.

CS: You mentioned the cross country pick up chicks tour? How did that develop?

GR: Well I mean basically we were doing freelance marketing writing and we kind of just came up with an idea for AXE body spray and they kind of came back at us and were like “well why don’t you two guys just go and shoot this thing across the country?” It was about 6 months on the road and we really just made hundreds of videos.

EM: We were writing a book on how to meet women.

GR: Right. But again I mean, similarly to this, we were definitely approaching it from a comedy standpoint. We wanted to make it funny and maybe they wanted to make it a little bit more branded. But, in retrospect, I think what was really helpful about that is we learned that we want to be realistic, you know? I mean we want to make a lot of jokes, but it’s important that we don’t fabricate a ton of stuff.

EM: Yeah, keep things real. And then also I think a lesson from that is a lot of that stuff… when you’re working with a big brand you don’t necessarily have all the control you’d like. Since then, Gareth and I have kind of been producing our own shit. It’s the same with this show. There are other producers but we’re involved in making the show the way we want it to be and that’s really good. And luck, not everyone has that ability, so it’s a good thing.

CS: So you guys mentioned the whole fish-out-of-water/working with serious people in their element, it sounds like there really isn’t a Jackass-y vibe here at all. It’s more like respecting these random missions, right?

GR: Well I mean I think what we really thought came across really well at the Testicle Festival video that we did is it’s really funny, but it’s never at the expense of anybody, you know?

CS: I see.

GR: If it’s at the expense of anybody it’s at the expense of us. So I think in the sense that there’s a ton of risk and some of the stuff we’re doing is really really crazy it is a little bit like Jackass. But we don’t really- it’s not like gross out humor and it’s a lot of like- it is a travel show too so we’re being informative as to where we’re going.

EM: The Jackass guys. Honestly after doing this show for … we’ve been shooting for a little over a month now, I can’t even imagine how they do it. The stuff they do is so incredibly physical and we’re doing really physical stuff too but it’s just brutal man. It’s hard. The schedule is hard. Every day I wake up and take three Advil because you get thrown around. Like I said we’re doing hand to hand combat with ninjas, or rock climbing in Arizona, maybe jumping out of planes. We’re going to Navy SEAL Training, I mean it’s really, it’s tough.

GR: Well actually we’re going to San Diego and we’re going to do MMA training and after weighing it we decided we’re going to do MMA training then we’re going to try and beat the shit out of each other at the end of the episode. We’re going to have an MMA fight against each other.

CS: (laughs) Geez.

GR: Yeah which is gonna probably make it awkward for like a day because it’s really hard to think of … it really is weird to think of fighting Evan.

CS: (laughs) What trip are you most looking forward to in the future?

GR: Well … it’s tough. We’re going to go to Hawaii and there’s just … I mean we went to Alaska and what was so great about Alaska is that even though it’s a state, it’s almost like a different country. It almost feels like you’re in Canada or somewhere else. It’s so pure and natural. I’ve never been to Hawaii and I’m really excited to do that. That’s part of this experience too that’s so great, you know. I would never have gone to Alaska, I probably would have never gone to Hawaii, but because we’re able to do this show I think we’re aware of places that we would want to go that would be sort of on a personal bucket list and bang it out. The idea of like doing a night scuba dive with the manatees or whatever-

EM: Sting rays.

GR: Sting rays.

CS: (laughs)

GR: I think it’s just going to be a blast. I’m really excited for that.

EM: Yeah. I’m excited for a bunch of places that we still have up on the list. The thing that keeps me up most at night is Navy SEAL training. That’s the one that I think we’re doing last and it’s no joke. These guys take this extremely seriously and it’s going to be a week of Navy SEAL boot camp hell and I’m excited to see if 1) I can hack it and 2) I’m sure there’ll be a new found respect for what these guys go through.

GR: What sucks about that one is we were planning on ending it by killing Osama Bin Laden, but they already got that out of the way.

Related Posts

  1. Will Sasso Interview
  2. Jo Newman Interview
  3. Azita Ghanizada Interview
  4. Yara Martinez Interview
  5. Drunk Talk – Review and Interview with Lance Whinery