Chris Hardwick, famous for his work at G4, his Nerdist podcast and website, his stand-up comedy career, and his amazing hair, is now partnering up with YouTube to create a Nerdist channel, filled with all sort of awesome new content from him and his partners, people like the Jim Henson company, Neil Patrick Harris, and Weird Al!
I had a chance to talk with Mr. Hardwick about his channel, and here’s what he had to say about it:
AFC: It’s cool watching the progression of your success from G4 to the Nerdist podcast, and now your own YouTube channel. So how did this get started with Youtube?
Chris: There was a fairly quiet call for content creators that YouTube was going to create these premium channels, not premium in the sense that users will have to pay to see them, but premium in the sense that YouTube was going to put real money behind them and people were going to try to make television quality programming for YouTube. We found out this was happening so we just put together a plan and went in there with a detailed description: these are our channel partners, Jim Henson company and Broadway video, and these are the shows we want to do. It was kind of funny since we weren’t allowed to talk about it so I was calling people like Weird Al and Neil Patrick Harris and saying, “Look, I can’t say what it is, but would you want to do a web based show around something you really like” So we got enough people that allowed us to go into YouTube and say here’s who the Nerdist audience is, here’s the people we can get involved, these are the kind of shows we would do, this is how much programming we would do. That’s really how it works, and in the end maybe they saw about 500 proposals, I don’t know the exact number, but in the end they gave out about a 100 channels. We just had a clear vision of what we wanted to do, and how we were going to execute that. We went in very prepared. We had this 34 page keynote presentation and we were very thorough. We thought if they were going to say no, we were going to make it very hard for them to say no. That was kind of our approach.
AFC: You have a bunch of really cool stuff coming out, like you mentioned Weird Al, but you also have All Star Bowling. I know your father was a professional bowler and maybe what inspired the show, but could you tell us a little more about it. Is it going to be a serious bowling show or like Mario bowling with powerups?
Chris: There’s an element of competition. It’s kind of like league bowling with your friends. There’s teams of four and I’m the only person who’s always on the Nerdists team. We pull different people from the podcast network or from other YouTube shows or from the website. Really whoever’s involved with Nerdist in some capacity can be on the Nerdist team. Verses a themed team from something else. We’re going to do a Mad Men team, and probably a Walking Dead team…. Jon Hamm, Vincent Karthheiser, and Rich Sommer. And the Walking dead team will be Steve Yeun and Lauren Cohan and Scott Wilson. And we’re doing a G4 team with Pereira and Candace, Blair Herter, and Jessica Chobot. We also did a team of chefs where we had Harley Morenstein from Epic Meal Time and Hannah Hart from My Drunk Kitchen. Really it’s about finding fun themes, ultimately it’s a lot of taunting and ****ing around. It’s fun but ultimately it’s for charity. We donate money to charity and the team who wins the season, like whichever opposing team has the highest overall score at the end of the season, 10,000 goes to charity in their name. It’s basically a fun show. I think not many people watch professional bowling now because it’s so serious but everyone bowls with their friends and that is what the show is.
AFC: You kind of answered this already, but are you going to have any cross over with other YouTube channels like Felicia Day or Freddie Wong?
Chris: Yeah! We’re doing stuff with the Fine brothers and stuff with Felicia’s channel and we’re talking to some of the other channels as well. I think one of the fundamental elements of this whole new media is that there’s more of a sense that we’re all in this together community. We have to be united. Whereas in the traditional medium models, it’s like “if you’re on our channel you can’t do stuff for anyone else.” That just doesn’t work anymore. It’s just like podcasting, we’re not just needing to make people aware of our show, we need to make people aware of podcasting. We need to make people aware that there’s high production value content coming to Youtube. So creating awareness for everyone is really the key. We have to let people know the platform exists. You know, a lot of us have been kicked around in the entertainment business for so long that we know the value of being supportive and nice and not territorial or competitive. If there is any competition, it’s more of a creative competition: “Oh s***, they did this, we have to up our game.” It’s healthy competition, the positive kind, not the we have to smash and burn and salt the earth kind of competition. It’s like a community garden. Everyone wins.
AFC: I also wanted to ask you about Cute Things Exploding. Could you summarize that show a little bit outside of it’s obvious title.
Chris: It is literally summarized in the title. It is literally cute things exploding. Not like live animals, just adorable things exploding.
AFC: Now at this point, you have met so many famous people throughout your career. Has there ever been a point when you’ve been overwhelmed by fanboyism while talking to someone?
Chris: I do feel that inside a little bit, but I have enough experience doing what I do to be able to push that down. When we were doing the Muppets podcast, that was pretty crazy, or Stan Lee. I feel like a lot of people we’ve had on I’ve been like “Holy shit, I can’t believe I’m talking to this person.” Simon Pegg was one. We’ve kind of since then become pals but I didn’t know him when we did the podcast so I was kind of freaking out about that one. J.J. Abrams. He was such a nice guy I felt like he was one of us, he’s not J.J Abrams- director…he’s a nerdy guy who’s talented and has the resources to make cool stuff. So we really connected on a nerd level. We spent the first 15 minutes of that podcast talking about the Twilight Zone. What podcasting does, it humanizes people. You sit down and start talking you realize their just people who like things and a lot of the same things I like. It’s not us interviewing famous people, it’s us having chats with human beings that happened to be interesting and successful.
Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to chat with me!
The Nerdist Youtube channel launches April 2, and you can always find out more information on what Chris is up to at Nerdist.com!