Stand-up comedian, TV host, podcaster, and co-founder of the Nerdist entertainment empire, Chris Hardwick is thriving in a space where television, comedy, and internet intersect.
“I’m sort of in a good place where if I’m working on something, it’s just cause I wanted to work on it,” says Hardwick, who has come a long way since his start as co-host of MTV’s Singled Out nearly twenty years ago. “I don’t take jobs ‘cause of money anymore and I don’t take jobs just to work.” With a long list of TV credits to his name, he currently serves as the host of AMC’s Talking Dead (a companion to the smash hit Walking Dead), The Nerdist Podcast, and most recently, Comedy Central’s breakout late-night hit @midnight.
Nominated for Outstanding Interactive Program at this year’s Emmy Awards, @midnight pits a revolving panel of three comedians against each other in a rapid-fire joke competition fueled by the day’s notable social media happenings, but Hardwick admits that at its core, “we’re literally just fucking around and having fun.” Perhaps its greatest strength is the way Hardwick leverages his understanding of social media in a way that countless buzzword-wielding executives could only dream of. “I think some people think that social media is just Twitter, Facebook, and whatever sort of quick-status-update service that you use,” he explains. “Any community, any place, comment threads, Reddit, Yelp reviews – any place where human beings are interacting with another is how I define social media.”
Though Hardwick has been at the helm of as many projects as anyone in the industry in recent years, the novelty of finding success with a new show hasn’t worn off for him. “Because it didn’t exist before, and now it exists, and now it’s part of the collective social consciousness. That is kind of a strange thing, to know like, ‘Oh, we put that there.’” Though he’s been on TV for two decades, Hardwick still experiences entertainment as a fan first. Maybe that’s why he has so many fans of his own.