Viral Videos: Accidental Tourists for Your Streaming Pleasure

Published on Aug 30, 2020

Conan Without Borders

It’s easy to feel boxed in during these pandemic times, as we burrow into the haven of home. But thankfully, there are many fun ways to look outward at the rest of the planet via shows on Amazon Prime and Netflix, which offer a safe way of seeing the world without emptying your wallet.

 This week, I’m serving up some ideas on a few of these shows, starting with Amazon’s Jim Gaffigan: The Pale Tourist, a two-part standup performance series from one of America’s most popular comics. This quintessentially American guy loves to focus his funniness on food, family and the odd angles of his Catholic faith, but he stretches himself in these shows, which mark his first specials after ending a longterm exclusive deal with Netflix.

This double shot of laughter finds him exploring the humorous sides of Canadian and Spanish culture. The first hour is a Canadian concert in which he serves up strong opinions on poutine, Saskatchewan, the differences between American and Canadian health care and the pronunciation of the city of Regina.

Jim Gaffigan in Pale Tourist

The second hour was filmed in Barcelona, where he quickly dispenses all the Spanish he knows (basically “gracias,” the Spanish translation of the sign of the cross and an assortment of Spanish foods) before offering plenty of funny stories about his experiences in Espaňa.

Meanwhile, Netflix has the eight-part series Down to Earth with Zac Efron, in which the young movie star travels from Iceland to London with wellness expert Darin Olson in search of healthy, sustainable ways to live. The show offers some serious points while maintaining a breezily fun tone (although some might say that their wisecracking spirit evokes the stereotype of dumb American tourists as well).

The stops also include Costa Rica, where Efron visits an ecovillage dedicated to leaving a small carbon footprint and explores the natural mystery behind Sardinia’s unusually large population of centenarians. He learns about sustainability in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, checks out beekeeping on a New York City rooftop and samples ayahuasca tourism as well as a meal of live critters in the Peruvian region of Iquitos.

Netflix is also home to a couple of other travel series with a humorous bent: Conan Without Borders, which collects talk-show host Conan O’Brien’s annual trips to foreign locales into one handy series, and Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father, which sends the British comic and his very old-school father on a series of adventures around the globe.

Borders shows O’Brien finding unique ways to put his showmanship to use in a bevy of nations, starting with Cuba, the first visit by an American talk-show host in 50 years. Other episodes find him becoming a K-Pop “star” in South Korea, performing in a telenovela and in lucha libre in Mexico and filming a movie in Rome. A particularly funny episode finds him in Haiti, giving people there a chance to insult President Trump in return for calling their nation a “s—hole” while also spotlighting the dynamism of the Haitian people.

The first season of Whitehall finds the father and son traversing Asia, with stops in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, while the second season follows them through Germany, Romania, Russia and Istanbul. The final season consists of two longer episodes that take them across Los Angeles, Phoenix, the Wild West town of Tombstone, Ariz., and finally Las Vegas.

It’s in Vegas where things come to a comic boil as Jack tricks his dad and mom into seeing a Magic Mike male stripper revue. But fear not: It’s all handled with family-friendly discretion.

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