You may or may not have heard, but I’m hosting a new show on Travel Channel called Trip Testers. If that sounds crazy to you, it sounds doubly crazy to me. For all the time I spent performing in plays as a kid, I never once expected to have my own TV show. Character actor in a mildly successful sitcom? Sure. Co-host of a super fun show where I get to be myself and not memorize a single script? Never in my wildest dreams.
The premise is simple: two travel writing buddies go on vacation to let you know where to spend your hard-earned vacation dollars. My co-host Jeff Miller has been the Los Angeles editor of Thrillist for a decade now and we’ve been going on trips together for the past five years or so. It’s a fantastic way to live.
Now that we have our own TV show, the number one question I get is “How did you get your own TV show?” So I thought I’d walk you through the process.
The short answer is: volunteer to run the light board for a play in the first week of your freshman year of college. While that may seem extremely specific, the sentiment is more universal. In my case, I arrived at Northwestern in 2000 with a lot of ambition and not a lot of anything else. I knew a few people, but I knew the best way to meet more was to get involved in anything I could. So I volunteered. The producer of the show happened to be Lisa Lapan, who — a decade later — would become partners with Geoff Clark at a small production company called Something Kreative. They’re the people to whom I first pitched the core idea for the show. This is all to say that the real way to get a show is to make friends.
That lesson proved even more important nearly six years ago when I went to a weekend at the Alisal Ranch in Solvang for a “BBQ Bootcamp.” That’s where I met Jeff and we hit it off immediately. Over the next few years, we went on various press trips together taking us from Vegas all the way to Australia. Along the way, we realized that we’re perfect travel buddies and a formidable entertainment duo. We’re just two regular dudes who have the incredible opportunity to travel the world through our work as writers. That became the kernel of the idea that became Trip Testers.
Now, it would be nice if you could just make friends and immediately get a TV show, but it’s obviously a little harder than that. Once Something Kreative dove in further, they were able to get a major production company attached: Authentic Entertainment. Authentic has done everything from Ace of Cakes to Flipping Out to Toddlers and Tiaras. They’re a heavy-hitter in the world of unscripted television and once they were onboard, we were off to the races. Kind of.
After shooting a six-minute “sizzle reel,” where we made a mini version of what we hoped the show would look like, they tried to sell it to networks. It didn’t work. A year later, they came back to us and asked if they could try again. We (of course) said yes and a week later, were told that the Travel Channel was interested and wanted to make a pilot (a full trial episode).
From the pilot stage, we were lucky enough to get the green light to make eight more episodes and in just a few short days, the first of those new episodes will be seeing the light of day.
It’s been a long journey to get to this point and there are a LOT of steps left out here, but the takeaway is clear: get to know people — the right people — and one day, you too could be watching yourself on TV.
Watch my brand new show Trip Testers every Monday night at 11pm and 11:30pm (e/p) and let me know what you think down in the comments!