In some ways, the Nerdist Podcast is not unlike a talk show on public access cable.
It is, at its core, just a guy who interviews his friends and anyone else he can convince to come onto his show. The difference is that the host is not some socially awkward guy in filming his parents’ basement, it’s Chris Hardwick, co-star (along with Jenny McCarthy’s boobs and later Carmen Electra’s butt) of MTV’s Singled Out and much more currently G4’s Web Soup. He also hosts his own Nerdvana of a website, the Nerdist. The other difference is that his friends and the other people he can convince to come on his show are not the guy down the street who comes outside wearing only his shorts, suspenders, knee-high black socks and a pair of loafers to pick up the morning paper or the lady from the animal shelter who knows that boa constrictors aren’t for everyone but this one is very affectionate and is just looking for the right home. No, Chris Hardwick knows a lot of quite famous people, many of whom are rightly considered icons of their respective professions.
Don’t believe me? Once, the guests on back to back Nerdist podcasts were Rob Zombie and Stan “the Man” Lee. It is fortunate for me that I didn’t listen to both those episodes on the same day or I likely would have suffered a Nerdeurism. Other noteworthy guests have included THE Ozzy Osbourne, Weird Al Yankovich, the Mythbusters, Adam Savage sans the other Mythbusters and The Muppets. Out of the 30 Nerdist Podcasts released so far, only about a third of them were people whose names I didn’t recognize and only half of these were people who I didn’t actually know (as opposed to knowing who their faces and their work and just not knowing their names.)
But Chris has a knack for finding people who aren’t just famous. He finds people who are trendsetters and exemplars in their respective fields. This seems due largely to the fact that is completely obsessed with what can loosely be called “the Craft.” “The Craft” can be anything from writing jokes, to directing movies, acting, creating music or coming up with comic book characters. It represents the work and process that go into doing something creative and doing it spectacularly. No matter what the end result of the process happens to be, Chris Hardwick is interested in how his guests get there. In addition to helping him find people who are excellent at what they do, this obsession means that he asks questions of his guests that help his listeners better understand how creative endeavors of all stripes are undertaken. Looking into the minds of creative people and see how the things they create come to be is consistently amazing.
Of course, Chris is still a comedian. Nerdist episodes are not just dry dialogues about “craft” and “process” and other high minded ideals discussed in a scholarly manner. They are filled with jokes, funny references and comedy often aimed straight at the hearts and minds of nerds. There’s a reason why so many of his guests are comedians of one sort or another. I don’t think I’ve listened to a single episode that didn’t make me laugh out loud at one point or another.
The pinnacles of these laugh-out-loud episodes are the live podcasts. These shows are taped in front of a live studio audience at a club called Largo in Los Angeles. These live podcasts feature stand up by Chris and his guests before discussions and question and answer sessions that stray deeply into the hilarious.
Although Chris is the only constant on the show, he is usually joined by two co-hosts who are also comedians. Jonah Ray is a Hawaiian born comedian who now writes for Chris’s show on G4, Web Soup. Matt Mira likes the Dave Matthews Band.
True to its name the Nerdist Podcast is a nerd delight. If you are a nerd, like geek culture or simply enjoy laughing, you should give this show a try. You can thank me later.