Comedian Reno Collier is hosting NBC's new reality show, Great American Road Trip, which chronicles the vacations of seven American families. The seemingly cookie-cutter two-parent/two-child units will RV it down Route 66 from Chicago, Ill. to Santa Monica, Calif. and compete in challenges to win the grand prize -- another vacation! The talkative funnyman spoke on the phone with TV.com about family-friendly TV, drive-in movies and the world's largest bottle of ketchup.
Collier, who has toured with Larry the Cable Guy and performed with Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall, is excited to host what he thinks is a real family show. "I have kids of my own," he said. "It was really fun to do ... something that my kids can actually watch me do on TV."
Though he couldn't go into the specifics of the challenges ("I can tell you that some of them are physical, some are mental, some of them are just outrageous!"), he said that they're an integral part of the show's comedy. "It's fun to watch how the families have to work together, or are forced to work together, in order to try to stay on their vacation," he said. "You get humor out of these families having to be together in an RV, traveling, and they're being filmed the whole time. The kids don't have video games, they have no cell phones ... we live in a busy time and people don't take the time to do that!"
The show isn't just about competition, though -- it's not even a race. Collier said it's about making family memories. He explained that the challenges are completed before iconic backdrops located along Route 66 like the St. Louis Arch or the Grand Canyon, which put our country on proud display. Route 66 also allows the show to peer into smaller towns, too, which Collier described with great fondness. "In one town, the whole town basically came out to go to a drive-in movie. They didn't have a movie theater. They saw the drive-in and there was a line for like two miles going in either direction," he said. "It's like you're going back in time." Not all the landmarks are historic, either. "There's the world's largest ketchup bottle. I'm serious. There is one, and it's humongous."
As the show progresses, Collier said that "characters evolve [when] you put people in a pressure situation. And by pressure situation, I mean having to drive an RV with your kids in the back of it." Ultimately, though, Collier said that Great American Road Trip will be fun to watch because it's not the type of show where "people are backstabbing each other and ... trying to make sure they win at all costs." Instead, the families focus on the experience of the road trip. "If you go from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier, you've accomplished something," he said. "They're going to have that memory for the rest of their lives."
Great American Road Trip premieres Tuesday, July 7 at 8 p.m. on NBC.