For those of you who think that "geek culture" isn't hip or cool, Chris Hardwick over at Nerdist.com is making his mark by taking what some label as "nerdy" and parlaying it into super stardom. In-between bringing in some of the most notable guests in podcasting history on the Nerdist Podcast along with his boys Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, Hardwick splits his time holding down a successful career doing stand-up, writing, acting, hosting "Talking Dead" on AMC, and traveling around to conventions to immerse himself in the culture that he truly loves whether you think it is "cool" or not. This Friday March 29th the boys from Nerdist are heading to the City National Grove of Anaheim to record a live podcast and before it all goes down, we talked to Chris about the ins and outs of convention life, why Bill Murray is so awesome, and why his podcast stands apart from the rest.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): Have you always been into so called "nerdy guy" things like comics, video games, movies and such?
Chris Hardwick: Growing up I was never much a comic book guy but my love definitely centered around computers, video games, sci-fi, chess club, action figures, and that sort of thing. Everything I'm doing in my adult life is just trying to figure out ways to work around the things that I've always loved. It's not like I said, "Oh this nerd culture thing is popular, because sports is way more popular than nerd culture." And I hate sports! If I were really going after where the money is, I probably would have gone after sports or the Kardashian culture. That's where mainstream America lives. The slivers of things that I'm into are not huge. I mean, I know Dr. Who feels popular now, but you still can't compare it to "So You Think You Can Dance," you know what I mean? [Laughs.]
Please don't go after the Kardashian's OK? That makes me want to barf in my mouth a little.
No I won't. [Laughs.] The truth of the matter is, I like what I like and I've always liked those things and it just so happens that those things are a little more popular than they were when I was growing up. I think it's largely in part to the sort of localization of our culture due to the Internet.
I know that you go to a lot of conventions and I was wondering if you have a favorite and least favorite thing about them.
Well I mean, they are a safe zone. They're places you can go and not feel ashamed to like the things that you're into. They really used to be the only safe zone aside from your house, your friend's house, a comic book store, or a toy or hobby store. My favorite thing is that they're just a bunch of people getting together and being able to celebrate things that they love. My least favorite though? Well, sometimes they can get so crowded that it's really hard to see anything because you are smushing your way through hoards of people. That's sort of a good news and bad news thing though. It's good that there are enough people that care about this stuff but as a human being, you get selfish about it and you're like, oh now I'm not going to get to see everything because it's so crowded! It's also bad if there's something that you want to buy but there's just a limited number or if you can't get into panels. I think one of the reasons I like moderating panels now is so I can get in them! [Laughs.]
That's so perfect! One of the things I really love about your podcast is that your interview style is more about interests and not so much a Q&A session. It flows really well.
Yeah it's really like a phone conversation or a coffee chat, that's basically what it is. A lot of the times I've just met the guest and it's like sitting down and having that first conversation with someone that you're really interested in. Rather than me interrogate someone, it's really more of a dialogue. I think there is this idea that most people love talking about themselves but really, I think that people are more comfortable talking about things they love instead. And we never plan what's going to happen, I never prepare anything. We just sit down and start talking and the conversation unfolds how it's going to unfold. I tend to let the guests energy dictate the energy of that episode. So some are high energy, some are low energy, some are dick jokes, it really just depends on where people are when they come and sit down.
And obviously your guest list just gets more stellar by the episode. Who haven't you had on that is still on your bucket list?
Ummm, Albert Brooks I've wanted to get for a long time. There's a lot really, Stephen Colbert, Carol Burnett, Bill Murray…
Oh my god I love Bill Murray! I would talk to him about Kingpin the entire time.
[Laughs.] I know, what I wouldn't give! I don't know if that one's going to happen but that would be awesome. But in terms of crossing my fingers, that would be one. You could do fifty podcasts with him and talk on each one about a movie you know? I could do a whole one on What About Bob?, a whole one about Groundhog Day, or a whole one on Ghostbusters. It's crazy how much you could do with him.
So will there be any guests that you'd like to name drop with the live show in Anaheim?
Well with a podcast built around a convention in the area, you really don't know who is going to be there so I actually don't know if there will be any guests at the moment. We'd love to have one but either way, it's still going to be the podcast with us three whether or not there is a guest. The thing with a live show is that it's kind of like a variety show because we'll all do stand-up, record the podcast, we'll talk with the audience, and then we'll come out and meet people. It's all really interactive. It'll really be like a big social variety show.
Nerdist Podcast Live is at the City National Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700; www.citynationalgroveofanaheim.com. Friday March 29th, 8 p.m. $20.00 For more info, visit www.Nerdist.com and follow the guys on Twitter: @Nerdist, @MattMira, and @JonahRay.