Wright’s lonely world

By Michael Leung

“Ian! Ian, I just want to start off by saying you’re an incredible human being.”

An equally incredible silence blankets the room. Then, Ian himself pierced the silence with his barely-contained laughter. I shook my head in disgust.

It was a perfectly good night when Lonely Planet presenter Ian Wright visited MacEwan Hall last Thu., March 21-except when idiots like the ditz above, on the floor mic, asked some of the stupidest questions I have ever heard. To a sold out show of 840, Wright entertained, danced and swore like an Englishman should, while telling stories of his (mis)adventures as a Lonely Planet TV presenter.

It was obvious Wright enjoyed his fame, but he made no bones about his business as an entertainer with no ambitions and a rubber face, and how that was exactly the reason why he traipses around the world for free.

Billed as the "Luckiest Bastard in the World," Wright did not play political on the title. He completely shunned the groupies in the audience who thought they knew him because, apparently, they too had travelled with him on his "epic" journeys to "foreign" places. Sensing the sarcasm here? In case you didn’t, some audience members failed to notice that Wright did not empathize with their celebrity yearnings-especially given the way he travelled.

"For three and a half weeks you’ve got the camera shaft up your ass-I can’t ever get away from the camera," he laughed to the mirthful crowd in his thick Suffolk accent, explaining how his show is half planned and half spontaneous. "I’m going to be so glad when I travel without the damn thing following me around."

Wright would also later debunk the myth that it was just a camera and himself riding the camels in Morocco, or visiting A-bomb survivors in Nagasaki. On each video, the producer goes out four weeks ahead of time to scope out possible shoots and establish local connections, followed by the director three weeks ahead of time who writes a script. Then, the soundman, cameraman and Wright come out a week ahead to get comfortable and shooting begins. The show is essentially a scaled-down production team sending its slicksters to test the water first, followed by their star performer.

During his first job to Brazil, he wasn’t familiar with this process but took it in stride.

"I’d never done telly before, but what could I lose?" he asked himself. "Even if I’d screwed the whole thing up, I’d just been to Brazil for four weeks-they can’t take that away from me."

Nonetheless, there were redeeming messages for those who searched for it. Aside from some helpful travel tips like judging a town by its second-hand shops, Wright was clear about why he travelled and it wasn’t to find himself abroad.

"I learn more from the people around me at home, who know me-those people tell me more about myself than the people around the world," he explained. "I’m just a boring bit of glue that puts all these stories together, all these people together.

"At the end of the day, it’s the way you travel in your head."

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