For one night only, some of your friends here at Perpetual Geek Machine went nerd, well, Nerdist to be precise. In his unannounced quest to become king of all nerd media Chris Hardwick has been taking his Nerdist podcast on the road, and this past Friday it landed in the City of Brotherly Love.
I felt confident that the event itself would be entertaining and fun, but I knew I was in for something special when, while we formed a line around the block waiting to get into the venue a homeless man who was perched in a doorway woke up due to all the noise, looked up and down the sidewalk at hordes of nerds and moved along to another spot. Personally I’d like to think he was moved by our witty banter and sci-fi based t-shirts to find a job and turn his life around, but I know it’s just the fact that we nerds and geeks aren’t even as socially acceptable as the homeless.
The night was everything I had expected. The show started with short stand up sets by all the guys. I’m going to omit talking about their content since the material may be part of their regular act and I’d hate to spoil any of it for you. I’ll just say that they are twice as funny as they are horrifying, and each of their sets had plenty of horrifying imagery.
For those of you who don’t know, the Nerdist podcast is headed up by Chris Hardwick (show host for many reality/gameshows over the years, current host of The Talking Dead, The Walking Dead’s post game wrap up show) and backed up by Matt Mira (G4s ‘Attack of the Show” gadget reviewer and stand up comic) and Jonah Ray (stand up comic and pedophile in training if you are to believe his looks.) Two to three times a week they drop an hour of witty nerd-comedy onto your favorite podcast catcher. Most have a guest that has recently ranged from Willem Dafoe to Rob Riggle to Neil Patrick Harris. My favorites however are the ‘hostful’ episodes with just the guys BSing about their lives for the past week and what is going on in the world. Their camaraderie and wit cancels out all road rage during my commute,no easy task!
From there, Chris segued into reintroducing Matt and Jonah and they took up their positions behind the mics. Breaking one of the cardinal rules of podcasting, Chris stuffed his face at the beginning of the podcast. His claim of not having any time to eat that day could not be processed by my fat-guy brain. I’m not sure which would have been worse, him taking time out to eat at the top of the show, or another celebrity coming to Philadelphia and talking about the cheesesteak they eat earlier that day. I don’t believe any of the guys mentioned Pat’s or Gino’s, so kudos all around for that.
When I heard Ben Franklin was going to be the special guest I admit, I was worried. We have an actor that has made quite a name for himself going to local Philadelphia events dressed and looking pretty much exactly like Ben Franklin. (I know, “Hey dummie, that’s Skeletor!” Well, he was the guest for the second show and I couldn’t find a pic of the gang with Ben, so deal.) Usually he interacts with children and is a nice mix of museum curator and Santa Claus, informative and pleasant mannered. I didn’t think he’d fit in with the speedy back and forth we have grown used to on the Nerdist, and I was certain he wouldn’t know what working blue was let alone do it. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one surprised when he fit right in. He had all three of the guys laughing on many occasions and at least one quemment of a questionable nature thrown his way that he took completely in stride. By the way, quemment is their term for questions and/or comments; I didn’t suddenly forget how to spell. Looking back on it, I should have guessed that an actor who had dedicated his life to a man that was so nerdy he didn’t just put tape on his glasses when they broke, but actually designed bifocals would be a little nerdy and fun himself.
There was a fun segment of crowd interaction when we all got to be in an upcoming promo for The Nerdist YouTube Chanel. There was lots of Chris getting alternately exasperated at us for constantly asking what to say, agitated at the stagehands for thinking ‘turn off the lights’ really means ‘turn them on’, and pissed with Jonah for promising us all $150 and membership in AFTRA for appearing in the commercial. Good times!
The show ended up with quemments. The theme song for this part of the show has quickly surpassed Letterman’s ‘Letters’ as my favorite. This is great until you start accidentally singing it at the end of a work meeting when someone asks if there are any questions. There were a few generic queries, but a surprising number of people wanted to thank Chris for changing their lives by either inspiring them to start a stand up career or their own podcast. That was nice and heartwarming, but did start to get a little weird after the fifth or sixth. What made it worse was no one had any love for Matt or Jonah. So, I’ll take this opportunity to thank them. Without them, the podcast would quickly degrade into Chris spastically jumping from one topic to another in an effort to avoid dead air till he completely snaps and kidnaps Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra in an attempt to relive his Singled Out days. That, and you guys are really damn funny.
The only real drawback of the evening was a second show had been added which limited the length of our show and prevented an organized autograph session afterwards. I did see Jonah charge up an aisle high-fiving people on his way outside to sign items for a few people. Cool of him, but if I were the type of fan that loved getting autographs I would have been chagrined. I know they promised to come out after the late show to sign stuff, and I understand a second show meant a lot more sales for the guys, but from the fan perspective it was a little disappointing.
My biggest surprise of the night was becoming a big fan of Jonah Ray. His comedy on the podcast always seemed to be just a little too sardonic, especially when directed at poor Matt. Seeing his body language and smile when he delivered a line showed him to be more fun loving, and his ball busting of Matt seemed to be more ‘fun’ than ‘jerk’. Besides, Matt deserved everything he got that night for wearing shorts on stage!
Don’t take my word for how fun these guys are. Check out their podcast here (after you’ve listened to our latest podcast of course) and check their calendar to see if they are coming anywhere near you.