Rob Riggle isn’t really an arrogant, obnoxious lout — he just plays one on TV and in the movies.
He’s been that guy on everything from “The Daily Show” to “The Hangover” to “Modern Family.” It made him famous. But that isn’t him, he insists.
“I don’t want to go through life as that character,” Riggle said. “It’s a fun character that I enjoy playing, and I play it pretty well so I get asked to play it a lot. But it’s not who I am. God, I hope not. That would be a tough way to go through life.”
But, the thing is, he’s sort of playing that guy again in his new Discovery Channel series “Rob Riggle: Global lnvestigator.”
“I tend to play a lot of big characters, and arrogant ignorance is probably one of the games I play best,” he said. “It’s pretty satisfying comedically.”
As was the case on “The Daily Show,” this arrogantly ignorant guy is named Rob Riggle. It’s sort of standard Discovery fare … not that there’s anything wrong with that. Riggle travels the world investigating various mysteries, from a search for the Holy Grail in Scotland to a search for pirate treasure in Florida.
First up — is the lost city of Atlantis somewhere in the vicinity of Greece? Maybe off the island of Crete?
And the faux Rob Riggle that Riggle is playing is completely qualified for this (in his own mind) because of his “extensive knowledge of everything.”
It’s beautifully filmed, and there are a variety of experts who accompany Riggle as he explores museums, cliffs and underwater caves. And makes a case that maybe he has found Atlantis. It’s interesting and entertaining in an oh-so-Discovery way.
What sets “Global Investigator” apart is the “overly excited” version of Riggle that he brings to it.
“Now if you take that and you tack on curiosity to that, then you’ve got something kind of fun to play with,” he said. “I thought it might be fun if I cross streams on Indiana Jones and the Pink Panther. And that’s what I tried to do, so we’d have some fun.”
A self-proclaimed fan of this kind of show, Riggle is quick to point out that the history and science on “Global Investigator” are real. The only thing that’s not is, well, him.
“I wanted to do a Discovery show that is a Discovery show — that really dives into real things, real facts, real archaeology,” he said. “Now, I don’t have any credentials in that area. I’m a comedian and an actor, a [former] Marine and stuff, but I do love adventure. And I do have a natural curiosity for all this stuff just like anybody else. As a viewer, I was fascinated by this stuff.”
And that actually works. The Rob Riggle on “Rob Riggle: Global Adventurer” is charming and amusing — because he’s poking fun at himself, not at the show or its investigations. “I’m a fan, so I don’t want to mock it. I want to celebrate it.”
And his enthusiasm for what he’s doing is obvious. “He’s like a kid in a candy store,” said executive producer Kelly Smith. “He’s embracing it.”
He was still enthusiastic months after filming the Atlantis episode, in which he and one of the experts dive off the coast of Santorini and discover formations that Riggle is convinced are manmade.
“They have now determined that those are manmade steps,” he said. “And now the Greek government is putting money into their research. Like, this is actually happening, and we were part of it!”
It echoed the enthusiasm he shared in the episode after exaggerating his “discovery” of the lost city of Atlantis.
“Yes! I did it!” he yells. “Potentially!”
“Rob Riggle: Global Investigator” premieres Sunday on Discovery — 8:03 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 11:03 p.m. on Comcast.