Geeking out with Nerdist & huge 'Doctor Who' fan Chris Hardwick


August 16, 2011|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

Chris Hardwick started his showbiz career as co-host of MTV's "Singled Out" in the mid-1990s, which, um, maybe was cool. Now, as ruler of a growing Nerdist empire, he's making nerds more popular than ever.

In addition to his hit Nerdist comedy podcast and blog, the stand-up comedian, actor, TV personality and voice artist reviews gadgets on "Attack of the Show," hosts "Web Soup," contributes to Wired magazine and has authored a book, "The Nerdist Way," which drops Nov. 1.

He also appears at nerdtastic events, like last weekend's Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, where I tracked him down as he decompressed after being mobbed by fans who had just watched him moderate a panel with sci-fi icon Patrick Stewart and his son, Daniel.

Hardwick rubs elbows with a lot stars, but he still geeked out when another icon from 1980s movies "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club" happened by us.

"Anthony Michael Hall just walked in the room," Hardwick whispered excitedly during our chat Saturday in the Wizard World green room. We talked about his love of "Doctor Who" (he and talk show host Craig Ferguson could be considered America's most famous fans of the series), his upcoming BBC America special and what TV he's geeked about seeing.

You moderated the San Diego Comic Con panel for “The Walking Dead” and…
I did, yes … It was super fun.

Obviously you’re a fan of that show.
I love that show, yeah. I got the first, like, four episodes before they aired and then I was so into the show, but then I had to wait like five or six weeks until I could see the last couple episodes.

Right, I know what that’s like. I see you four or five episodes and you watch to review, and then…
[Doing excited voice:] “Yeah great, now I’m hooked on the show and I have to wait!”

But you don’t watch it on TV on TV, right? I think I heard you say in one of the Nerdist podcasts you watch without commercials. Do you wait for theDVDs , or get a lot of early screeners?
Oh no. Well, I do get a lot of screeners. I watch a lot of stuff on streaming or DVR, but this is mainly because of my schedule. And I watch a lot of stuff on planes on my iPad. So, like I watched the whole first season of “Louie” on one trip just being on planes several months ago.

Since I write about TV let’s talk about what you are looking forward to on TV this fall.
What’s coming out in the fall? Tell me and I’ll tell you if I’m looking forward to it.

There’s this “The Nerdist” special coming to BBC America.
[Laughs.] That is true. That is coming out on television. I’m looking forward to that. But we don’t know what’s going to happen with it.

How did that come about?
I guess it came about because I’m a huge “Doctor Who” fan and I talk about “Doctor Who” on Twitter all the time. This was right when Matt Smith took over [as the Doctor] and I thought he’d be a great guest on the podcast. And this guy from BBC America, Devin Johnson, was following me and just said, “Hey, if Matt Smith’s ever in L.A., I’ll try to set it up.” And he was, and he did! And then we had him on the podcast. And Craig Ferguson is also a huge “Doctor Who” fan, so Craig asked me if I wanted to come on [his “Late Late Show” on CBS] when Matt was on. And so I did and then we just started having conversations with BBC America.

They said, “We have this thing called ‘Ministry of Laughs’ and we’re interested in having you [host it].” And I said, “Well I have a podcast I want to turn into a television show,” and they go, “Oh, well let’s try both.”

So that was really sort of how it all came about, just by being a rabid “Doctor Who” fan.

Have you already filmed it?
Yes. We shot it, I don’t know, maybe six weeks ago, two months ago. And Craig Ferguson was the guest. And then there’s a second surprise guest, and that’ll air Sept. 24. And if people watch it, we’ll do more. And if they don’t watch it, we probably won’t do more. [Laughs.] Because that’s how television works.

Are you looking forward to the second half of this season of “Doctor Who”? [From Curt: It starts Aug. 27 on BBC America!]

Have you seen any of it?
I’ve just seen a preview, you know? But purposely stayed away from the last, you know, as they get closer you get more in-depth trailers and I’m staying away from it so I can fully be surprised by the show.

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