Chris Hardwick is a busy man. He does standup, runs the podcast juggernaut that is Nerdist Industries, is the voice of Craig in the Nickelodeon series Sanjay and Craig, hosts the Comedy Central comedian game show, @midnight (which has recently been renewed for a second season), and he's probably in your kitchen right now making you eggs. Really. Go look. I'll wait.
Ok, I'm sorry for lying, and now you're craving eggs, but my point is that Chris Hardwick is a hardworking dude. On April 4th, he's heading to the South Beach Comedy Festival to film the first ever live @midnight with guests Doug Benson, Matt Braunger, and Arden Myrin.
We caught up with the James Franco of jokes before he hits South Beach to talk about @midnight, television, and that weird thing known as the internet.
Cultist: So you're taking @midnight to Miami soon.
Chris Hardwick: Yeah, we're doing @midnight at the South Beach Comedy Festival. This is our first really, official live show of @midnight since we first started developing the show last summer before it was actually on TV. So it's pretty exciting because when we were doing it live last year, we were just experimenting and trying to figure out what the show was and what worked, so now that we have a much better idea of what that is, it's going to be fun to take it back on the road.
It seems like you've been hosting shows since you could talk. I feel like hosting is a really under-appreciated craft. I can't tell you what makes a good host and what makes a bad one, but I can almost tell a good one from a bad one. What makes a good TV host?
I don't know really. I just do what I do, you know? I think you certainly know when you see a bad one. It's a weird skill set to have. Because you essentially have someone talking in your ear while you're talking to other people, and then one part of your brain is keeping time, and you still have to somehow be yourself and make it fun. So there are like five or six things mechanically that you're doing when you're hosting a show. It just takes practice, I suppose. I've been doing it for so long, I honestly don't even know. It's not the same as doing standup. Some standups are good hosts, and some aren't. It's just a really specific muscle that I'm not a hundred percent sure how to explain.
@midnight seems like such a fun show. You, the panel, the audience — everyone just genuinely seems to be having fun. Is there a secret to that? Because it's a rare thing on television.
I think, first and foremost, we are actually having fun, and that's helpful. The fun is not engineered, and it's not forced. Most of the people that are on the show are already friends of mine and are people I adore and are some of my favorite comedians. So when you get us all together, and we start screwing around, it's basically kind of a structured screw-around session. Fortunately, the game show element gives the show a structure that moves it forward. The show is just fun. It's about something that I have a pretty strong relationship with: the internet. I'm not saying it's a good or bad relationship. It's just a relationship that's good and bad.
Do you think the internet demographic has accepted you and the show because they can sense that you are one of them?
I don't know. Some people would say that they like me, and other internet people can't stand my face. That's just what the internet is. There are lovers and haters of everything. Even before this show, I was on Reddit every day or scouring the far reaches of the internet just because that's what I like doing, not because it's a job. It is a job now, but I was doing it long before it was a job. I think people understand that versus when a network tries to say, "We really have to talk to these internet kids. The internet kids love Twitter. Let's make a Twitter account!" I don't think it feels like we're trying to take advantage of anyone's time by being a wolf in sheep's clothing and trying to figure out how they live and they look.
You've hosted Talking Dead and Talking Bad. Is there a show — on air or off air — that you really wish you could of hosted a wrap up show on?
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I think Lost probably could have had an after-show. I think seasons two to five — the real sweet spot of Lost. I think that could of used an after show. It's really a show with a lot of cast members that's mixed with mystery and drama and tragedy. These after shows are ultimately kind of like therapy for what you are experiencing. The after show should just be a communal extension of the program that you just watched. Social media has made us such a culture of sharing. So when you're watching this stuff and you're feeling a lot of things and you don't have anyone to talk to, it's frustrating. Because you want to be able to say, "Did you see that?" Or, "How are you feeling about that?" Or, "I feel bad about this. I need to know it's OK." We basically just help people process that stuff.
South Beach Comedy Festival present @midnight with Chris Hardwick. Friday, April 4, at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. The show starts at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and tickets cost $35 plus fees via ev2.evenue.com. Call 305-674-1040 or visit colonytheatremiamibeach.com.