The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — There is never a bad time to watch the dumpster episode
First of all, an apology. The three-year anniversary of the legendary dumpster episode of The Chris Gethard Show was actually something like a week ago. Almost two weeks ago. I should not have missed it. It is one of the best and most captivating hours of television I’ve ever seen and I consider it my duty to remind people of its existence as often as possible but at least once a year. So, this is me doing that, albeit belatedly. I will do better going forward. I promise.
Some background: The Chris Gethard Show was a very weird and fun chaos-filled show that has since been canceled. In this episode, officially titled “One Man’s Trash” but affectionately dubbed “The Dumpster Episode” by everyone who has seen it, the host rolled out a dumpster at the beginning and announced that there was something special in the dumpster and he would only reveal it if someone guessed correctly. If no one guessed, he would roll it right off the stage. If someone guessed right away, he’d have to fill 40+ minutes with no backup plan. Like I said, chaos. The whole episode is available for free on YouTube. You should watch it if you haven’t and you should watch it again if you have.
The spectacle of it all is what makes it so fun. The spectacle and the great unknown. It’s not just the audience that was in the dark, too. As the show’s executive producer explained to Andrew Husband in a behind-the-scenes look at the episode for this very website, even the staff was out of the loop.
“We initially told the entire staff to refer to the unknown dumpster item as the loaf of bread,” he continues. “When a few of the more inquisitive staff members asked me what it really was, I told them we had gotten our hands on an extremely rare Picasso painting. An actual original that had been lent to us by the Museum of Modern Art. After telling them this, I asked them not to tell anyone else and they agreed. Soon after a rumor spread among the staff that it was something valuable and special. After that, the rumor became warped — somehow a bunch of people thought we were hiding live chickens in the dumpster. Others thought it was like a wolf or something. But no matter what they thought it was, whenever they came to me, told me they knew what it was and gave me a wink, I’d say, ‘Yeah, but don’t tell anyone else.’”
That’s not even the best part. It’s barely top three. Because, for one, Gethard brought on comedians Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas from the How Did This Get Made? podcast as guests for the episode and they promptly stole the show right out from under him. It’s complete anarchy and just a blast, especially when you see poor Gethard’s face as he realizes he’s lost all control. More from that piece.
“To be honest, I was not really interested at all in what they put in the dumpster. I was primarily interested in making Gethard’s job as hard as possible,” notes Mantzoukas. “Paul, Chris and I have known each other for over 15 years at this point. So I chose to make Chris’ job harder, knowing that that is the dynamic Chris and I will play out on any stage anyway. That’s not me taking shots at Gethard. That’s just me continuing the dynamic we have had for many, many years. It’s a very joyful to do, as you can probably tell from watching the episode.”
But the best part is the reveal. Mother of God. The build to it is incredible. About halfway through the episode, Gethard lets Scheer and Mantzoukas peek inside the dumpster to see what all the hubbub is about and their immediate reactions raise the stakes through the ceiling. They are flabbergasted, justifiably so, and the whole tenor of the show changes. Now everyone on stage desperately wants you to find out what’s in the dumpster. Desperately. It’s riveting all the way up until you find out and then it becomes spellbinding.
I’m not going to tell you what is in the dumpster. I think you deserve to see it with fresh eyes. Just trust me when I say that it will blow your mind, especially if you have the same set of interests I do. I’m still not over it. You can probably tell that, though, based on the fact that I’m still shouting about it three years later. You’ll be shouting, too. Watch the episode. Trust me.