Why I Love The Unholy Shit Out Of Ghost Adventures On The Travel Channel

You know where I am at 9PM on a Friday night?

Nope, I’m not out sassing it up with the ladies. I’m not drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon with a tangle of hipsters. I’m not snortling blow from inside a hooker’s uterus.

I’m watching the fuck out of Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel.

This show is ridiculous — by which I mean, ridiculously awesome.

How the wife and I got into this ludicrous piece of television programming is as ludicrous as the show itself. Get this: we were in Hawaii (Kauai in particular). It was the middle of the day. The sun was up. And we? We were in our hotel room and not frolicking around paradise. Okay, we had just returned from such frolicking, and I was coming down with a cold and the wife was coming down with a bad case of “there’s a baby inside me and now I think I might throw up.”

So, we took some time to just lay down in the hotel room. Hey, it sounds bad, but you open the lanai doors, you hear the surf crashing right outside your window — it’s relaxing as shit.

Of course, we ruined that by putting on the television but what waited there on the Idiot Box made it all worth it. There, in the middle of sun-blasted paradise, we watched an episode of Ghost Adventures.

If you don’t know the scoop behind the show, it’s like this: three guys go to a notably-haunted location (not just, say, some dude’s house but a well-known site like Eastern State Penitentiary) and at night they get locked inside the location, turn off all the lights, and run around in the dark yelling at ghosts and jumping at shadows with night-vision cameras running.

We were rapt. It’s unintentionally hilarious. You probably need to see an episode to really understand, but here, let me try to elucidate for you the reasons this show totally holds my interest.

Because This Guy Looks Like This Guy

Let’s just get it out of the way right now. Zak “Bilbo” Bagans looks like a roided-out Michael Cera.

Need proof? Boom.

See? What’d I tell you? Zak “Dildo” Bagans is like Bizarro Michael Cera — all muscles and hard angles but still the same turtle-faced dude. Sure, okay, Cera’s kind of a hipster goof with the body of an overcooked noodle, and Zak is like… I don’t know, some kind of Emo Jock Frat Goth? Still. I think they’re alternate universe versions of one another. They should devote an episode to that shit. Yeah.

Because This Is The Unlikeliest Crew Of Ghost Hunters You’ve Ever Seen

Your average ghost hunter crew comprises… well, social miscreants of some kind. It’s like someone emptied out a bag of nerds and gave them all EMF detectors. I don’t mean to knock the ghost hunter type: hey, I probably am the ghost hunter type. I love that shit. I believe in ghosts. Still, I’m just saying: ghost hunters often reveal some weird mix of science nerds, paranormal nerds, history nerds: nerds, ahoy.

Oh-ho-ho, not the Ghost Adventures crew. They’re the tough guys of the ghost hunter world. They’re ghost-tracking frat boys. It’s even in the title of their show: they’re having adventures, goddamnit. They see themselves as intrepid heroes — just as Indiana Jones banished the image of the nebbishy archaeologist, so too do the Ghost Adventures Crew squash the idea that you have to be a super-nerd.

Of course, it comes across as bizarrely insincere at times: one suspects these guys were hired together, chosen by network executives out of a TV-friendly lineup, but apparently, they’re not only friends but also worked together before the show on a documentary (that… won awards?). In fact, these guys are reportedly totally sincere which makes the show even better.

Oh, and they call each other “bro” and “dude” a lot.

As in, “I just felt some weird energy go up my arm, bro.”

Or, “Dude! I hear some old woman screaming in here! I just peed a little, dude.”

These guys look basically like the types who roll around in puddles of Axe Body Spray the way my dog likes to roll around in gopher diarrhea. You can practically smell the vinegar and water.

Because They Taunt The Ghosts With Their Brash Machismo

They have called their approach to ghost hunting “raw,” “extreme,” and “in your face.”

Here, then, is their basic mode of ghost hunting:

They go into a room or area known for its paranormal weirdness, and host Zak “Frodo” Bagans will inevitably taunt the shit out of the invisible specters. He’ll be like, “I know you’re in here, ghost. Are you upset that I’m in here? I hear you like to punch little girls. Why don’t you punch me? Why don’t you take this Samurai Sword that I brought with me and use it to chop my head off? Why don’t you molest me? Why don’t you take down my pants and molest me and then chop me in half with a Samurai Sword? Show me your power. I’m letting you have my energy. Go ahead. Take my body for a joyride. Are are you some kind of pussy? I heard you were a pussy. All the other ghosts were like, ‘Oh, that other ghost, he’s a big old vagina.’ Why don’t you stick a thermonuclear device inside my body and blow me up? I brought one. Are you man enough to blow me and the whole Eastern Seaboard to pieces, pussy-faced ghost vagina?”

I’m exagerrating, of course.

But not that much.

Because It’s Fun To Watch Them Piss Themselves

And yet, despite all the ballsy taunting of the spirit world, any time they hear a loud noise, think they hear whispering, see some kind of shadow — whatever — next thing you know one of them (usually Aaron) is shrieking like a girl scout who just had a mouse run up her kilt. He jumps, flails, says “DUDE” and “BRO” a whole lot, genuinely looking like he just filled his trousers with fear poo.

Because They Find EVP Everywhere They Turn

Other ghost hunter shows, they try to collect EVP — meaning, “electronic voice phenomena,” where they capture ghostly whispering on recorded media only — and it doesn’t happen all that often. They get one good one, maybe, and the rest they debunk. Oh, not the Ghost Adventures Crew. They get a dozen EVP an episode. Every time they whip out that digital recorder, it’s a goddamned EVP-looza.

Half the time, they hear something that just plain isn’t there –

ZACH: “Are you here, ghost? Why don’t you rip out my throat with a claw hammer? Prove your power!”

EVP: ***incomprehensible static that sort of sounds like some old man whispering to himself on a park bench**

ZACH: “And now, we receive a sinister and intelligent EVP from the spirit, where he says –“

TEXT ON SCREEN: “Kill Zak.”

And my wife and I look at each other, eyebrows cocked. “I don’t think that’s what the ghost said.”

Just to make sure, they replay the EVP on screen like, seventeen times. And each time it’s like, “Ehhh, I dunno. Maybe the ghost said, Whack attack? Or, Backpack? I’m just not feeling this one.”

Other times, the ghosts say something that just doesn’t make sense. My favorite is when one ghost said, “Coffee… Cafe.” Seriously? That’s what the ghost wants the communicate to us? “Coffee Cafe?” The spirit expended all his spectral energy to see if he could find the nearest Starbucks?

Because Of Holy Shit, Bro! Goosebumps! Dude! Bro! Goosebumps!

Goosebumps to these guys are not an indication of being creeped out, or cold, or whatever — no, no, goosebumps are hard scientific data. They get goosebumps, boy, that’s clear evidence that the paranormal is hanging around. They point to it like it’s their first erection: “Dude. Goosebumps.” “I know, bro, I feel it, too. It’s running up my arm.” “Man, it’s running down my leg. I feel the energy. Like a spirit is moving through me.”

Me, I’d get goosebumps too if I was running around in the dark playing grab-ass with a bunch of invisible ghosts. Hell, I get goosebumps when I watch Star Wars or listen to old Captain and Tennille records. It doesn’t mean I’m being haunted by specters.

OR DOES IT?

Shut up.

Because Orbs Always Look Like They’re Flying Up Into Someone’s Butt

They don’t do a lot with orbs, which I appreciate because mostly, I think orbs are completely ridiculous. It’s always dust or a moth or some shit, but a lot of ghost hunters spaz out whenever they see an orb — “Oh! Oh! Orb! It’s a spirit!” No, it’s a flake of dandruff. Wash your hair. I’ll get excited when a full-body apparition comes up and tries to cup my nuts or steal my iPhone. Orbs do not thrill me.

Still, once in a while Zak and his crew will find an orb, a mote of light that seems to move in ways one doesn’t expect — and on this show, they often seem to be moving into people.

And often, though it’s never acknowledged, into someone’s butt.

I don’t know why this is, exactly, but it suggests that specters are somewhat anally-fixated.

So, if you ever go ghost hunting, maybe tickle your rosebud with a little holy water.

I’m just saying. Be prepared.

Because They Always Save The Day

Obviously, reality television lives or dies on narrative, and ghost hunting shows are no different. Ghost Adventures doesn’t always hit you over the head with it — which is nice — except at the end. At the end of every show, Zak “Deep Frodo” Bagans will offer some magnanimous look back on their lockdown — “Well, I think we helped some ghosts reach the other side today. We gave these ghosts peace.” Or they mumble something about having solved a murder despite having solved no murder at all anywhere ever. Really? You believe this stuff? The most you did was threaten a bunch of ghosts and give one boogity-boojum directions to the nearest coffee house. You’re not Zelda Rubenstein from Poltergeist, dude.

OR IS HE?

Okay, probably not.

Because Despite All That, The Show Is Sometimes Pretty Damn Creepy

At least once or twice an episode, you get a moment which is genuinely spooky. Like in last night’s episode, you get to see this shadow on the wall that is plainly an arm and plainly has no source and then morphs into something and disappears. Or you get an EVP which honestly sounds like someone saying something from beyond the grave — the words are crisp, clear, and often sinister.

Sure, they might be making this crap up. But they seem to really believe it. And it helps turn this show from something that is pure farce into something on a whole other level — because I don’t suspect these guys think they’re bullshitting anybody. From all reports, they’re sincere as all-get-out. They mean it. They believe it. Are they making stuff up? Who cares? You’ve got a show with three lovable douchenozzles wandering around in the absolute dark, word-punching ghosts and squealing at whatever rat fart they hear two rooms away. It’s awesome. It’s funny, it’s goofy, and yeah, once in awhile it’s actually a little spooky.

Tell me you watch this show. Someone. Anyone?

Let us share the love.

29 comments

  • I must confess… I love this show too. I don’t watch every episode, but a couple times a month, I happen to catch an episode of this show and I love the hell out of it. Zak & co. are over the top and sometimes they piss me off with their antics, but I think that’s part of the charm. You nailed it when you said, “Ghost Hunting Frat Boys.” I used to be a big fan of Ghost Hunters on SciFi… err, I mean SyFy. I lost interest a few years ago with “collargate.” I still love Steve and Tango on that show, but I think they’d fit right in on Ghost Adventures.

    And yes, I’m the type of nerd that would go out hunting ghosts, but I can never put together a group of people to do it.

    • @Darren:

      “Collargate?”

      I’ve been ghost hunting — fun, though not nearly as scientific as they seem to want it to be. Much rather take a more old-school paranormal/occult approach to the whole thing. Admit the science is really just pseudo-science, y’know?

      — c.

  • These guys look basically like the types who roll around in puddles of Axe Body Spray the way my dog likes to roll around in gopher diarrhea,

    This may be the best, most apt description ever.

    Substitute Polo or Drakkar(because I’m old) and this describes more than half the guys I dated in college—my husband being a noteable exception. Tell me the truth—did they really sell shower attachments for that stuff?

  • Oh I watch this show just for the pure cheesy factor. I am rather a skeptic when it comes to ghost and or spirits, but these guys don’t want to just find ghosts they want to kick their ghost ass. I keep waiting for Zak to pull out some sweet looking gun like thing and something like “Tonight, we’ve been told these ghosts are particularly nasty, so we brought along on newest invention the Gamma Photon Ghost Gun. It shoots a stream of gamma photon charged particles, but it’s very important that we don’t cross streams!” and then Zak looks into the camera and says serious as all hell, “Unless we’re taking on a fifty foot jiffy puff ghost, then we’ll do it, by god we’ll do it!”

  • Dude, bro — that shadow last night at the fort? Gave me chills, like going right up and down my spine. Seriously, that was one creepy and unexplainable occurrence, and it happened to a local with no one else in the room. Fantastic. In fact, we were streaming season two on Netflix last night (yeah, we’re hooked, too), and we saw another standout ep at a brewpub in Savannah, where a piece of equipment I thought was full and utter horseshit led to a genuinely interactive and contextually appropriate conversation with… something. Uh, bro.

    And as you know from my geeking out on Twitter, I get a kick out of Zak’s EVP interpretations as well.

    Other things I love about GHOST ADVENTURES (which is in this house known as GHOSTFACERS, for the Ben-Edlund-created ghost hunters on SUPERNATURAL (seriously, if you never watch another ep of that show, watch this one; it works just fine as a standalone: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1032133/):

    -Zak’s admirable dedication to elocution bumping up against his complete inability to construct a sentence.
    -Nick “I felt that, too!” Groff, forever the Sen Dog to Zak’s B Real. (Wow, that’s a reference no one but me is gonna get.)
    -Watching kinda sortas become definite. “So you’re saying someone might’ve died within these walls?” ===> “HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE perished violently within these walls.”
    -Zak’s constant insistence that “I don’t like to go by feelings, dude, but I don’t feel good right now. Something’s here with us, man.”

    • DUDE BRO, CYPRESS HILL.

      Ahem.

      And you nailed it — in fact, Zak’s constant abuse of the English language (last night, I think he used the word “falled”) is of great delight to us in Der Wendighaus.

      — c.

  • Yeah, “Collargate.” During a live Halloween episode a few years back, they had some really bad technical flaws in relating the “evidence” to the viewers. First, one of the EVP’s was heard by the audience before they played it back. You could tell that Grant was shocked, but he rolled with it and presented it as an “EVP” that you heard without the need of a recording device. You heard it live. There is another incident where a random member of the tech crew (not a cast member) walks through a shot. Then, there was an incident where Grant’s collar gets tugged by a “ghost.” The thermals of this are hilarious. You could see the wire attachment that ran down his jacket into his pocket where he placed his hand only moments before the “event.” When it happens (and you should watch the slo-mo), Grant flies backwards, in a direction that is not the same as the direction his collar moves. It caused some major backlash among the show’s fans and I was one of many who stopped watching that night. If you’re going to use cheap theatrics to entertain, at least do it well. When it goes wrong, admit it. Now, I only watch the occasional episode and mostly just for the Steve & Tango segments, since they’re way too funny for the rest of the cast.

  • Hey, I used to wear Drakkar.

    You know, when I was like, 13 and going to Jr. High dances.

    Get off my lawn, sonny.

    Wait . . . this is your lawn. Never mind.

  • My wife watches Ghost Hunters. When I watch with her, I get “the look” because I don’t believe in ghosties and criticize the evidence. Since her birthday is on Halloween and we watch the live episode each year, I shut up that night.

    Tried Ghost Adventures a couple times. I think it’s funnier than Ghost Hunters because they ARE a buncha dudes freaking the hell out and hyping every little situation.

    There are things I like about both shows (and Destination Truth). I like watching people wander around in the dark hearing and seeing things. I like the history of the buildings and just knowing that there are people making money wandering around abandoned old places and historical sites. And I do like the challenge of those moments when something really freaky happens and it’s not as easy to debunk.

  • My old roommate LOVED this show, thus forcing me to watch it.

    For the reasons you like, I hate it.

    I hate it cause they’re idiots! Absolute idiots! They think they know, but they don’t know anything, and these are the people we’re trusting to contact spirits? It drives me nuts!

    And I hate the provoking thing. Cause then they say or it keeps encouraging the idea of evil spirits, which I don’t believe in. Spirits are not evil. They are ASKING spirits to hurt them. Why should they be surprised if they are actually hurt?

    And the other reason it frustrates the hell out of me is that sometimes it really does seem real, but they layer it all in the creepy music, and images and whatever to give you that entertainment spooky feel, which I hate, cause its hard to tell what is fake and what is real.

    I also hate that they tell you what the sounds are, cause I think I start to mentally fit the two words. Often, I just close my eyes and listen to see if it is anything.

    But yeah. I hate it cause they’re idiots. They’re absolute idiots.

    But it is funny XDD

  • I got into the whole “ghost” scene with “Most Haunted”, a British show but the fake intensity of the “psychics” they would tote around just got to me.

    My fave moment of “Most Haunted” was when one woman (think one of the hosts) caused a full-scale hysteria panic that had EVERYONE screaming and running when she felt something “touch” (she might even had said “something licked me”..been awhile, can’t remember) her neck or cheek or something while they were in a bathroom in one place. Turns out it was the automatic scent mist dispenser shooting out a spritz. The screaming in that incident was EPIC!! I still giggle when I see a scent mist dispenser in a public bathroom!

    What I like about Ghost Hunters is they have freaky moments but no one is THAT jumpy…my heart can’t handle a show, in the dark, with everyone jumping and screaming like a girl at EVERY moment.

    Great post, btw, had me peeing with laughter…haven’t seen this show, but soooo easily can imagine it from your description! lol

  • I don’t believe that such things as ghosts exist which pretty much invalidates the entire purpose for this show for me. Let me know when Discovery lets the Mythbusters get around to showing what giant idiots these ghost hunters are and I’m in. Until then I guess I’ll go find some hipsters and PBR.

    • @TN:

      You’re a very surly person.

      Regardless of your potential surliness, the fact or lack of ghostly existence does not invalidate the show. In fact, a complete dismissal of the show might make it simply all the more entertaining.

      — c.

  • YES! My wife and I enjoy the shit out of that show. Zack is too friggin funny. REALLY takes himself seriously, in a Jersey-Shore kinda way. You know those guys are from Penn State, right? Being a Western Pennsyltucky native myself, I take special pride int hat fact :)

  • I love this show so much it hurts.I tell all my friends about it and they give me pitying looks and humor me. They just don’t understand how awesomely bad it is. Did you know that Zak used to be a wedding DJ? (That pretty much explains everything, doesn’t it?) And his hair is the most ridiculous, awesome thing ever. It should have its own show.

    My absolute favorite thing they do is when they bust out that PX device that talks like a Speak n Spell and supposedly the ghosts talk through it. Also, anytime they do things for dramatic emphasis, like the season opener this fall where they actually went and did Civil War reenactment at Gettysburg (which was hilarious in and of itself because these bros were so earnest about it) and then Zak walked around with a soldier’s cap on for half (maybe all) of the episode.

    • @Aria:

      That Civil War reenactment was hilarious. To the infinite power. “This was what it was like to fight in the Civil War.” No, this is what it was like getting dressed up and slapping each other’s rear ends in Civil War garb. This is what it was like playing dolly.

      Haw.

      — c.

  • Chuck- you didn’t mention how at least every other show, Zac gets possessed. That’s my favorite part. You can’t call it a good Ghost Adventures unless Zac gets possessed at least once. (notice he never drops the camera, tho.. I’m just sayin’)

Speak Your Mind, Word-Nerds