Chris Hardwick Talks Nerdist, ID10T, And The Future Of Podcasting

02.07.18 5 months ago

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Along with Marc Maron’s WTF and Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, comedian Chris Hardwick‘s Nerdist podcast has long been one of the medium’s most popular entities. Joined by friends and fellow comics Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, the former @midnight host has covered subjects of interest to comedy aficionados, comic book nerds, and geeks of all kinds for nearly a decade. And even with last week’s announcement that the show will now be going by the name ID10T, its premier position likely won’t be changing anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean Hardwick isn’t nervous.

“I’m changing the name of the show,” he announced on Friday, in what amounted to the original Nerdist podcast’s last-ever episode. “When you really invest time and energy into something and there’s a change, I know as a fan it feels weird… you like things the way they are.” Despite issuing a press release and an entire podcast episode to discuss the matter, however, Hardwick felt there was more to say about the name change, the podcast’s move to Cadence13, and his surprising plans to syndicate the show’s catalog for radio. So he reached out to Uproxx to talk things over.

I get the impression this has been a rather stressful announcement to make. Between the initial press release and Friday’s bonus episode with Jonah and Matt, you’ve been putting a lot out there.

I’ve been as transparent about it as possible because I always feel like that’s the best way to go. Podcasts in particular, because they’re built on a community. As an audience member for other podcasts, shows, or social media platforms, I don’t ever like feeling like something is trying to slide stuff by me. It always makes me think, “Hey, I see what you did there!” My thinking is if you arm people with as much information as possible — almost to the point where they’re saying, “Okay, TMI” — then at least they know where you’re coming from. Then they can make an informed decision, and at least in that way, they are a part of the process.

So it’s really about reaching out to that community. Especially with podcasts, because there’s a real need for community engagement there. There’s this whole community that’s involved and I just think it’s important to involve them. They’re the ones who have supported my ability to make this thing, so I tend to err on the side of oversharing.

I get it. And yeah, there’s a lot of information there, and a lot of it is false, but having too much information that’s more accurate is better than the other kind. Or none at all, for that matter.

This game of telephone tends to happen in which people interpret what they read without ever really checking it out. And when that happens for two, three, or five generations… There’s a really great game that illustrates this. You should try it out if you get a group together for a game night. I don’t know what it’s called — I just call it “Draw the Thing.” It almost represents the way information is generally misinterpreted and spread. Everyone gets a pad and a pen, and in one minute, you write down a phrase — a sentence, a phrase, a saying, or whatever. Then you pass it to the person on your right. They have to draw what you wrote down, or what they think it means to them.

After a minute, they cover up the original sentence and pass their drawing to the next person, who then has to write what they think that drawing is trying to say. Then they cover up the first drawing and pass it to the next person, who has to draw what they think the new sentence is. The game alternates sentence, drawing, sentence, drawing — and when you get around the circle, everyone reveals what they’ve got. It’s amazing to see where it starts and where it ends up going. And that’s how I think our “information ecosystem” tends to operate. It’s fascinating.

Speaking of receiving and interpreting new information, in the announcement episode you mentioned the possibility of retiring “enjoy your burrito” and ending the podcast with a new tag. Yet in this week’s episode, you’ve got the same tag.

A lot of these podcasts were recorded a few weeks ago when we were still very much Nerdist. I may stick with it, or I may come up with something else if I ever find anything that feels right. We’re still using the robotic voiceover recorded by Janet Varney, who is awesome and came back to record new lines, but I left the tag in because it feels like a connection to the original run. This will always be the same podcast. Even though the name changes, spiritually it’s the same. So this felt like a way to update things but keep them rooted in the same foundation. I still want people to enjoy their burrito. But maybe, at a certain point, I’ll sign off with something new.

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