… and, as you might imagine, I’ve got a few things to say about it.
The takeaway, just to clarify, is that it’s great. Chris Hardwick, Matt Mira, and Jonah Ray attract celebs, comedians, actors, and personalities of EXACTLY the caliber that I seek out to enhance my work day. Thus far, I’ve heard the sweet, sweet sounds of Jimmy Fallon, Ed Helms, Danny Pudi, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Jon Hamm, Paul F. Tompkins, Nathan Fillion, Andy Samberg, Sarah Silverman, Craig Ferguson, Rich Sommer, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Greg Proops, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Tom Lennon, Andy Richter, and Rainn Wilson, and each one has been more entertaining than the next. Okay, that’s not completely true. I laughed hardest at Fallon’s (and McHale’s, and Samberg’s, and Hamm’s… sigh) and thought most deeply during Wilson’s (which really was an incredible podcast—listen to it) and F. Tompkins’. But my point is that I thoroughly enjoyed them all! It’s just that… Chris Hardwick bothers me a little.
I have to give Hardwick props, though, for knowing exactly what it is about himself that bothers me (and apparently bothers everyone else, too, because they tweet him about it). He talked about it quite a lot during the hilarious Galifianakis podcast, in fact. But those props can only go so far, because he doesn’t do much to change his bothersome ways. I’m going to make a list. I know it’s kind of mean, but it’s true.
1. He name-drops ALL THE TIME. And then points out the fact that he just name-dropped.
2. He treats every guest as thought they’re the most brilliant person in the world. Which might be true, but pandering is irritating.
2a. He also describes every great performance he’s attended as “fucking fantastic” and “fucking phenomenal,” which labels him as a relatively unreliable source in my book. If everything’s already that good, how are we supposed to know what’s actually great?
3. He is obsessed with the word “ironic.” In a totally LITERAL way.
4. He lays down “sage advice” about the entertainment industry that, let’s be honest, comes from a relatively limited career. I admire and covet his standup and his hosting resumes, but auditioning and acting? Please, son. Leave it to your guests to tell anecdotal set stories instead of referring to your one movie experience on “House of 1000 Corpses.” Which, by the way, you’ve mentioned 1000 times.
5. He sneaks in the fact that he’s dating Janet Varney every chance he gets. We know. Have some confidence in yourself and shut the fuck up about it!
6. He sneaks in the fact that he did a Radiohead country album every other chance he gets.
7. He slips in “my editor from Wired” and “my Web Soup hosting job” A LOT. DUDE. REDUNDANT.
All that being said, his nerd voice and his semi-repetitive questions to his guests have actually grown on me. These podcasts often get deep into comedy-dork territory, which really pleases me—listen to the Greg Proops one if you don’t believe me—and I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve learned about standup and improv and interviewing by listening to this podcast. And the combination of Hardwick, Mira, and Ray is pretty well-balanced. Hardwick is the obvious leader, but they all laugh at each other’s jokes and comments, and they call each other out when it’s due. I just wish Hardwick would take more of a backseat to the others sometimes; since we hear him every week, his stories are stale and his guests’ are under-represented. But he’s learning. And maybe I’m just biased because I identify with Matt Mira on a deeply personal DMB level, but I’d like to hear more Dave Matthews impressions, whoever’s doing them.
Bottom line: I’ll keep listening, but I’m expecting a few improvements. Over and out. Er, enjoy your burrito.