Chris Hardwick

Chris Hardwick

Date of birth: 23-11-1971

A comic and TV host, Chris Hardwick is best known as host of the Nerdist Prodcast, which started in February 2010 and spawned a BBC America TV series.

But he started as a DJ, and his TV career goes back to 1994, when he hosted the MTV game show Trashed, and then the dating game Singled Out.

He recorded his first hour-long stand-up special, Mandroid, for Comedy Central in 2012, and the broadcaster then signed him up to host a daily panel show, due to launch in 2013.

He also performs in a musical comedy duo, Hard ‘n’ Phirm with Mike Phirman – and they made a half-hour comedy special for Comedy Central in January 2008.

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Chris Hardwick in London

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

What a difference the internet makes. In 2001, long before starting The Nerdist Podcast, American comic Chris Hardwick came to London to perform a pub gig. He remembers it well, mainly for the long, low, growl of ‘cuuuuunt’ that greeted him. Welcome to Britain.

Now, he seems genuinely touched that nearly 300 people have come out to see him at the Leicester Square Theatre, including a pair of sisters who’ve made a special trip from Italy, despite struggling with the language barrier. One of them has even dressed up as a Weeping Angel from Doctor Who for the occasion.

Yes, that’s the type of dedicated niche audience Hardwick attracts. Chatting to the front rows, he uncovers a writer from Luther, a guy who’s working on a geek-skewed blockbuster that he can’t talk about, a staffer at the Harry Potter Studio Tour and a professional Lego builder, among others.

Hardwick is clearly a leader among nerds, but his material, perhaps surprisingly given his precisely marketed image, is a lot broader. There are dick jokes aplenty, and the staples of his set are his embarrassing father, drooping testicles and awkward teenage sexual escapades. Admittedly, he describes making love for the first time as being akin to taking a leap-of-faith run-up to Platform 9¾ for the Hogwarts Express, but it’s hardly an obscure reference.

Off-script and riffing effortlessly and frequently with the like-minded crowd, he gets a bit more geeky, drawing an analogy from life with Dragonball Z, for instance. But for the main part, this is mainstream, if slightly dirty, comedy from a affable, sociable and remarkably youthful 41-year-old who’s very far from the clichéd shy nerd.

Hardwick tells us he burnt up a lot of material on his first hour-long American TV special, which aired in November, So there is a lot of new material tonight. He takes to the stage clutching a sheath of notes – which might seem something of a cheek when charging £22.50 a ticket, had these first-hand anecdotes not hit the spot. They’re well observed, but he has a special – hilarious – instinct for knowing how to make an audience share the discomfort he felt in any such situation, and laugh at it.

The back story is that he got into stand-up as a revenge for all the teasing he got at school for being the sort of kid who’s into Dungeons and Dragons and the chess club, so maybe that’s why he owns his awkwardness so fully now.

But heading the nerd herd certainly doesn’t define him, completely. That’s a pigeonhole his comic abilities are far too big for.

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Published: 16 May 2013

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