Chris Hardwick is one of those guys who you can just feel the passion exploding out of. A self-proclaimed nerd, Hardwick is the host of the hugely popular AMC’s “The Talking Dead”, has his own podcast-turned-television-special "The Nerdist" and performs stand-up routines to sold-out crowds in his Comedy Central special “Mandroid”. Things were not always easy for Hardwick though, especially when he was a kid.
Living right now in a world where being a “nerd” is not only accepted, but often encouraged, may make it hard to believe that kids like Hardwick had it rough. "I wasn't ashamed of the stuff I was into, but I was nervous about being open about it; when you're young you don't want people to tell you you're weird, but everything I was into was considered a little weird. Traditionally nerd-based culture is now a big sector of pop culture. … It's not niche anymore, so with Nerdist we can actually kind of try to blow it up even more."
Hardwick, on the road performing stand-up, has to be careful not to reveal his material used for “Mandroid” in his regular performances. “You're not allowed to do that,” he says. “There's no law against it, but it's just bad form as a comic to release a special and then just go on the road and do that material. People pay to see you, and they don't want to see the same jokes that they just saw for free on television, you know? [Comics] don't get the kind of leeway that a band gets, like, 'Yeah, the Stones are playing Satisfaction, sweet!' If you do a joke that's really old, then what happens is people on Reddit and Twitter just go, 'Real original, you're just doing old jokes!' But bands do it all the time."
Hardwick loves every minute of doing live television and he feels that he can be “a lot more organic than having a scripted show," but it can be challenging when he is working with “The Walking Dead” producers. Hardwick is offered advanced episodes of the show, but he feels he has a responsibility to viewers to resist temptation. "They offer them to me, but I don't watch ahead of time – I mean, I could watch as many episodes as are completed, but I don't because, No. 1, it's a live show -- I don't want to accidentally blurt out something that I can't take back – but then also I feel like as consumers we've gotten so spoiled with just being able to watch things a season at a time, and I know that's really satisfying, but I also feel like there's a nice purity of television-watching where you get to anticipate and theorize and look forward to something at a certain time each week. There's a whole generation of people under 25, you say that to them and their eyes just glaze over. They don't understand. 'You know, there was a certain time if you missed something on television, that was it!' … There's actually kind of a communal bonding experience that you get with your friends when you watch that way."
“Mandroid” is being released this week, and you can catch Hardwick again in February on “The Talking Dead”.