Comedian Chris Hardwick is probably best known for competing for camera time with Jenny McCarthy’s rack on the ’90s MTV dating show Singled Out. These days, the 38-year-old comic finds himself involved in slightly more cerebral pursuits. He’s a regular contributor to Wired magazine as well as a writer, producer and host of the G4 clip show Web Soup. He also comprises one half of the musical comedy duo Hard N’ Phirm, where Hardwick pulls off the impressive feat of eliciting laughs with songs about trace elements and The Carbon Cycle. In addition to this, Hardwick has acted in a number of film and television roles and performs stand-up comedy where he notably jokes that the music in Abercrombie & Fitch is “gayer than cum on a mustache.” News of his varied projects and pod-casts can be found on his blog Nerdist.com.
Of course, the word “nerd” doesn’t really carry the weight it used to, especially since being one became hip. Hell, these days anyone who has so much as glanced at a CliffsNotes copy of Ulysses calls himself a nerd. What makes this tousled-haired pretty boy deserving of the title?
“I was a proto-nerd when being a nerd was not hip. I was in chess club tournaments. I studied Latin. I owned my first computer in 1981. I was the president of the Classics club and got my ass kicked for being a nerd,” proclaims Hardwick. “Now it’s this hip, retro thing. Now if you wear an Atari shirt it’s cool, but if I wore one when I was a kid I got stuffed in a trashcan.”
His nerdiness has carried into his more experienced years in the form of the occasional Dungeons and Dragons game with fellow comedians Brian Posehn and Patton Oswalt.
“Sometimes Patton would sing a song that his drunken dwarf character made up about a zombie’s vagina,” recalls Hardwick.
As if Hardwick’s poindexter credentials wasn’t already solidified, he also admits to being able to recite pi up to about 180 decimal places, which must drive the chicks wild.
“They love it,” Hardwick boasts before admitting, “No, no they don’t.”
Even Hardwick sometimes gets caught up in the debate of who qualifies as an actual nerd. He recalls an email he received from someone reacting to a joke he performed about how nerds fight, which is that they make no physical contact, repress emotion and go home to angrily masturbate.
“This kid wrote to me and said that ‘my nerd friends would kill you with a PVC pipe.’ And I’m thinking, those aren’t nerds, those are sociopaths.”
Because Hardwick is clearly no fan of free time, he even started a book proposal for a book on how to help his bespectacled brethren manage their own time.
“Nerds tend to have an acuity for obsession and this book is laser focused at the nerd,” Hardwick explains. “I’m pitching it as The Nerdist: Life Management for Creative Brainiacs.”
Hardwick promises that it will have more of a snarky, comedic point of view than the typical crunchy, new age self-help fare. If he plays his cards right, he could position himself as the next Tony Robbins, except without the gigantic head.
Given the range of Hardwick’s achievements, he’s still a little taken aback by the fact that he’s mainly known as the guy from Singled Out, despite the fact that he’s been doing stand-up since his days as an undergrad at UCLA.
“I always assume that people know that I do stand-up and that I don’t suck and I’ll even hang out with people after the show.”
Hell, if the audience members ask nicely, maybe he’ll even help them with their math homework.
Mar. 12 & 13, Comix, 353 W. 14th St. (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.), 212-524-2500; $20 and up.