Loading...

Chris Hardwick: Funny, You Don't Look Nerdist 

Thursday, May 19 2011
Comments

At 39, Chris Hardwick doesn't look all that different from when we first met nearly two decades ago, in his first television gig as host of MTV's short-lived game show Trashed (I was a contestant). When he laughs, his face still explodes into the same boyish grin as it did then.

Over the din of a packed lunch crowd at the Griddle on Sunset, we giggle while discussing comedy that we both like, such as Bobcat Goldthwait's raunchy film Shakes the Clown. "I haven't seen that movie in years," Hardwick says. He then does exactly what one expects of the man behind Nerdist.com: He whips out his iPhone and declares, "I've got to see if it's on Netflix Instant!"

Hardwick has gradually become a staple on the alt-comedy scene in the ensuing years, both in his solo stand-up act and with his old UCLA buddy Mike Phirman as the musical duo Hard N' Phirm. Since he launched Nerdist last year, however, Hardwick's profile has surged as a Renaissance man among geeks.

click to enlarge Chris Hardwick
  • Chris Hardwick

Related Stories

  • Updating E. T. for the iPhone Age

    Earth to Echo is a slender kiddie flick about a quartet of preteens and their palm-sized alien pal, which is at once bland, well-intentioned and utterly terrifying about the mental development of modern children. As in the most honest kids films, our pint-size heroes admit to being isolated, unhappy and...
  • BottlesTonight App Makes Bottle Service (A Little) Cheaper 2

    Thought bottle service in top nightclubs was off-limits to all but rappers, movie stars and others with entourages? There's a new app trying to change that. Launching now in Los Angeles, BottlesTonight offers massive last-minute discounts on bottle service at hot venues all around town. It's currently in 11 local...
  • 15 Innovative L.A. Designers

    Dwell on Design is a three-day pop-up theme park for professionals, amateurs and anyone else who's interested in the future of architecture and design. With over 30,000 visitors in 2014, DoD is the country's biggest design event, and the ninth annual edition returned to the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend...
  • Podcast: Should Adults Really Be Embarrassed to Read YA Novels?

    The Fault in Our Stars made heaps of money at the box office, and film critics Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek wonder if a recent piece declaring that adults should feel ashamed to read young adult novels has any weight to it. They also talk about The Immigrant and film...
  • DIY Detectives 2

    Elizabeth Gallardo wouldn't necessarily call herself brave. But she's a do-it-yourself kind of person. "I've always had to get what I want for myself," the 30-year-old urban planner says. "I didn't have parents that got me shit." When her iPhone 4S abruptly vanished in October after she briefly laid it...

"I figured out that you can kind of design a career that is a bunch of part-time jobs," Hardwick explains. "Sometimes I can get double duty out of things. Someone says, 'We'd like you to moderate a panel with the Zucker brothers,' then I can say, 'Oh, I'd like to make that a podcast as well.' It's the same reason that people diversify stock portfolios. If I have all my eggs in one basket and that job goes away, I'm fucked."

So in addition to cranking out two Nerdist podcasts a week, Hardwick writes for Wired magazine, blogs on Nerdist.com, hosts G4's Web Soup and, most recently, took over space at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood as the "Nerdist Industries" base of operations, kick-starting an ambitious slate of live comedy, comic book–related panel discussions, writers' workshops and more. He also helped create Node, a social-networking community still in beta testing, along with business partners Rachel Masters and Athena von Oech.

"We wanted it to be a social network that is devoted to people actually saying relatively significant things instead of just, 'Here's what I had for breakfast'–type status updates," he explains. So far, experiments in "nerd-sourcing" (like crowd-sourcing, but extra nerdy) have resulted in songwriting, art projects and even offshoot podcasts like the female-driven Nerds in Babeland.

Born in Kentucky and raised in Tennessee and Colorado ("I always felt out of place there, if that means anything," he says of the South, which receives some ribbing in his stand-up), Hardwick has always been a massive comedy fan. With the Nerdist podcast, however, he's aiming not just for laughs but also to find out what makes his guests — ranging from Mad Men's Jon Hamm to Mythbusters' Adam Savage — tick.

"I get shit for using the word 'process' in every episode but ... finding out what that is and how people work is endlessly fascinating to me," he says. "So when people say, 'Well, the show's called Nerdist, I thought it was going to be all about video games and comic books or whatever,' I'm, like, 'Yeah, what's nerdier than deconstructing [creative] processes?' That's about as nerdy as it gets!"

Click here to see all our Best of L.A. People 2011 profiles.

And click here for more photographs of the Best of L.A. People 2011.

 

Related Content

Slideshows

  • Onch Movement for Hello Kitty Jewelry Launch @ JapanLA
    Hello Kitty and designer Onch Movement collaborated on a new line of jewelry just in time for the holiday season. The launch party and trunk show showcased a limited number of pieces for purchase and gave fans a preview opportunity to try the collection on for size. The event also featured art work by Malcolm Stuart, The Pocky truck and a visit from Hello Kitty, who stopped by for photo opps. The limited edition Onch Movement for Hello Kitty jewelry collection is available exclusively at Sanrio.com starting November 20. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.

    See also: Lina in L.A.- All Aboard EVA Air's Hello Kitty Jet!
  • WeHo Gogo Appreciation Day
    West Hollywood paid tribute to the male gogo dancer with a little friendly competition Saturday night in Boystown, featuring plenty of pecs and very little clothing. All photos by Matt Baume.
  • Lina In L.A.- FROCK YEAH at FYF Fest!
    Dressing practical didn't mean plain at this year's FYF Fest. The hot and dirty grounds brought out bandannas, combat boots, and loose get-ups, from overalls to sundresses. Knee socks, DIY denim, colorful hair, band and statement tees and still-bold boho accessories made for a style mix that meshed multiple eras, though grungy '90s statements rocked loudest!