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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

An Idiot Abroad

An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read in any genre. That only makes sense, since it is presented by actors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. What doesn’t make sense, though, is that it’s not actually a book. It’s a British television show that has, with a few changes, essentially been transcribed into a book.

When I visited a friend in London he sat me down and told me I needed to watch this television show called An Idiot Abroad. With my love for travel, my friend knew I would love the show. I tried to tell him I don’t really like watching television, but he would have none of it. I had to watch this show about this guy, Karl Pilkington, travel around the world based on “bucket list” suggestions Gervais and Merchant came up with and Pilkington chose. That was the second season of the show, the first is the bestselling book.

Knowing Karl Pilkington’s matter of fact tone of voice made the book for me. Had I not seen the show, I probably would not have picked up on a lot of what was written. As it was, I read it on the plane ride back to the United States from London with people staring at me since I was quite truthfully laughing out loud at Pilkington’s naive and dopey comments when it comes to the larger world. Many people may think them downright offensive, but when you listen to him on the television show, An Idiot Abroad, and see how he interacts with people and lives a very closed and sheltered life, it’s easy to pick up on the humor of it.

In the book, An Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington documents his travels to the seven wonders of the modern world: the pyramids, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, the Taj Mahal, Chichen Itza, the Great Wall of China, Petra, and Machu Picchu. Along the way Gervais and Merchant set up different, and more often than not, inhospitable stops. This alters the shape of the story so much so that it becomes more about Pilkington living in a society so unlike he is used to, opposed to him actually seeing the wonders.

I truly loved reading An Idiot Abroad and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh. But before you read the book, you need to see the television show. It is available for purchase online in the United States, so, unlike me, you do not need to travel to England to see it for yourself. Getting out beyond your own borders wouldn’t be a bad idea, though, so go ahead and take the trip for yourself and see the country where such inane genius resides.

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4 Comments on “An Idiot Abroad”

  1. The Guy January 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    It is indeed a great book and show Jason, I love it! I think it has also now been shown on Discovery/Science channel in North America and around the world.

    You’ll be excited to know that they brought out a third series in the UK just before Christmas. Karl follows in the footsteps of Marco Polo and has a travel companion in a dwarf by the way of actor Warwick Davies. I wrote a review to celebrate the start of the new series which might make interesting reading for you? http://flightsandfrustration.com/the-return-of-an-idiot-abroad/

    • Jason's Travels January 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      That’s fantastic. I can’t wait to see it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Agness January 21, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Sounds like a great book. I have never read it, but when I was in Oslo last November I saw one of the episodes on TV and I could not stop laughing. So hilarious. Would you say the book is better than the programe?

    • Jason's Travels January 21, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

      I would say the show is better since you can hear Karl’s tone of voice and all the humor that goes with his cluelessness. The book is a good backup, though, if you can’t see the show; I tried to purchase here in the U.S., but the copy I received in the mail wouldn’t work in my BluRay player. 😦

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