In 2016, the archetype of Uber rides gone awry—or amazing—is a staple of bar conversation. Funny dude Jack Dishel has turned the trope into a web series called :DRYVRS, which follows one user of a faux taxi app repeatedly getting into weird adventures with strangers who were just supposed to drive him from Point A to Point B. The first episode of :DRYVRS in December, featurs child star-turned-adult Macaulay Culkin reprising his role of burglar-thwarting Kevin MccAllister from the cultishly-beloved 90s Christmas flick Home Alone. The saga continues as the tale of app-enabled anarchy drops today on YouTube with Rosanna Arquette (Pulp Fiction, The Whole Nine Yards, Crash) mistaking her passenger for a young Bob Dylan because she's tripping on acid.
“Everybody has one,” Dishel tells The Creators Project, in respect to the vomit-and-awkwardness-prone genre of Uber stories. “When I had the idea, I looked around and I thought, ‘Nobody’s done this?’ I’d have thought every show would be about this. People have toyed with it a bit, but no one has used it as the centerpiece. As I started making :DRYVRS, I realized I’ve always been interested in this situation.”
Dishel inaugurated the series with Culkin playing the traumatized, 30-something-year-old version of his breakout role. He's covering for his wife who “did too much blow last night” and who, “doesn’t even know how to drive,” when an attemped carjacking forces him to relive the criminal-punishing antics of his former self. Notably, his mature methods would not have earned a PG-rating. The video went viral, earning 23 million views as culture vultures relished in Culkin’s rare embrace of the character which defined his childhood, led anonymous internet people to make hoaxes about his death, and caused other distasteful byproducts of childhood celebrity.
"I knew people would watch that because there’s a built-in curiousity," Dishel explains. "Mac’s never done that before, so it was kind of like popping a 25-year-old bottle of champagne." The reason Culkin agreed to participate was a years-long friendship with Dishel through Adam Green, his bandmate in indie rock oddity The Moldy Peaches. The two starred together in Green's iPhone-shot, ketamine-fueled "screwball tragedy" The Wrong Ferrari, and recently acted together again in Green's latest film, a psychedelic interpretation of Aladdin comprised entirely of papier-mache.
What’s next for :DRYVRS? The show’s second episode debuted at Tribeca yesterday, and appears worldwide on the internet today. Better than re-hashing the “older versions of beloved actors” gimmick, Dishel has vowed to make :DRYVRS, “a place where you can see actors doing things you’ve not seen them do before.” This episode, entitled Bob’s Direction Home, features a very funny performance by Arquette as a hippie who decided to take the edge off her first day at :DRYVRS with “a little bit of acid,” comes to believe that Dishel is young Bob Dylan, forcing him to adopt Bobby D's demeanor to coax her into driving slowly, or as he puts it, "at the speed of art." There is also a surprise appearence from the actual Tom Petty, and it's awesome.
“When I first had the idea, it came from a few particularly awkward Uber rides where the conversational pacing was brutal for me, with long, annoying pauses and unnecessarily intense eye contact,” Dishel says. The inspiration pool expanded to include the fictional Home Alone universe, but much of the show is based on Dishel’s real life experiences. “I had the idea about the Bob Dylan thing because I had, of all things, a dermatologist who was a gigantic Dylan fan. So I walk in there and he goes, ‘You look like Bob Dylan.’ And I tell him I get that sometimes. But then he starts actually calling me Bob, at which point I started to get freaked out.”
After years of focusing on making music, either with The Moldy Peaches, as his solo act Only Son, or with his wife Regina Spektor, Dishel's recent move into video comedy is interesting, preceeded only by his two cinematic collaborations with Green and Culkin. “I’m excited about exploring my imagination and making the show a vehicle to execute any idea that I have.” Haha, vehicle, for a show about people driving cars. Good one, Jack!
Bob's Direction Home is Dishel's first major foray into video without Green or Culkin, and making it his own using all the storytelling and comedy tools at his disposal will be the difference between making it or breaking it over the next few months, and he's enjoying the challenge. "I wrote three fake Bob Dylan songs. That’s just fun. I have an EP at this point of fake Bob Dylan music I made for the show.”
Dishel has completed the first three episodes of the series, and has many more planned, drawing on the connections from the indie music, film, and art scene in early 2000s New York. “We have a lot of familiar faces, some award-winners, some pretty brilliant guests," he teases. “We’re going to find our audience, and it’s absolutely going to be smaller than 23 million views, but I never thought that was going to happen in the first place. It’s a win-win, because now I get to just make this show. Now we all get to watch fake Bob Dylan and real Tom Petty fight over Rosanna Arquette. That didn’t exist last week, and now it does."
See more of Jack Dishel's work on his website.