Chris Hardwick Sony Centre, Toronto ON, September 26
Published Sep 27, 2015Chris Hardwick is immensely popular, but you probably already knew that. What's more, he's not just popular because of legions of fans or his super hot TV shows (@midnight, Talking Dead), but he's also loved by comedians themselves. He has developed a system, or rather, built an empire, that celebrates comedy.
Being part of the Nerdist family comes with an instant audience, and if you're an emerging comedian and you find yourself in it, your needle will move. But tonight, at Hardwick's Sony Centre performance for JFL42, it's about him and his fervent fans, which also presents a small problem. You see, it wasn't that long ago that nerd culture was fringe. There was nothing "cool" about reading comics past the age of 14 until very recently, and Chris Hardwick can take much credit for this cultural transformation. That comes with a loyal following that has morphed into a massive, nerdy clique.
And the following is here in spades tonight. They are great fans of his, and it's about the best environment a comedian can hope for. But, if you're someone who only occasionally attends comedy shows, and you don't watch The Walking Dead, you'll miss out on some of these references. His loyalists, however, are more than familiar with all of this, and holler in acknowledgement. Inevitably, someone yells "Points!", and there's nothing wrong with this.
Hardwick takes it well, being ultimately grateful, but it sets the tone for what a big-venue show is for him. He panders, but you don't fault him. He's still an incredibly likeable guy, and his success couldn't happen to a nicer one. If you're someone that consumes his culture already, be it his podcasts, or television show, or even follow him on Twitter, there's not very much new here. He has a problem with trolls. He's hosts The Talking Dead. His father, a former pro bowler, died recently. He mentions having hosted MTV's Singled Out in the '90s. And he's about to marry the great-granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst. Almost all of his set has, at some point, been mentioned on the Nerdist podcasts, so very little seems fresh.
But Hardwick is still a pro, and makes it look easy. He has to be one of the hardest working guys out there, and if you're a fan, you will simply not be disappointed. These, along with him, are your people.