luke kalamar looks at the new stand-up from the nerdist himself…
After almost two decades of performing comedy, Chris Hardwick finally got his own stand-up special titled “Chris Hardwick: Mandroid” on Comedy Central. He had a special back in 2008, but that was part of his duo with comedian Mike Phirman called Hard ‘n Phirm. “Mandroid” is Hardwick’s first solo special in his decently long career.
I first heard about Hardwick because he hosts Talking Dead, his own discussion show about The Walking Dead that airs every Sunday right after the critically acclaimed zombie series. It wasn’t until I saw his Twitter page that I discovered Hardwick was a comedian and has been for quite a while. I didn’t take time to look up his act though, and it took me watching Comedy Central’s Mash Up with TJ Miller to finally get a taste. As I said in my review of Episode 2, I really enjoy Hardwick’s performance and considered it a huge highlight of the show. With this in mind, I had very high hopes for this special. Thankfully, Hardwick delivered to my expectations and did an excellent job hosting his first solo comedy special.
Hardwick’s brand of comedy stems from his extremely nerdy roots. He’s hosted G4’s Web Soup, the “Nerdist” podcast, and Wired Science on PBS before, so obviously being nerdy is his exactly what Hardwick is about. His entire special is filled with telling a variety of jokes with a nerdy spin. One great example is him describing his first sexual experience as trying to enter Platform 9¾ from the Harry Potter franchise. It was an incredible analogy and easily one of the many hilarious parts from his act.
The rest of the special was filled with jokes very similar to the aforementioned Harry Potter analogy, and they were all very well done. As a nerdy individual myself, I related with a lot of his humor. It was my connection with what he said that enhanced the viewing experience, but I definitely didn’t like his act solely because he was nerdy. He was genuinely funny, and this special will appeal to anyone regardless of what their hobbies are. One bit was about the incredibly creepy and strangely sexual bee from those Nasonex commercials that is voiced by Antonio Banderas, and it was spectacular. Anyone who watches TV has definitely seen that commercial and can fully understand exactly what Hardwick is talking about.
There was a moment during the special where Hardwick did go a bit over the top unfortunately. You know those moments where a comedian is really getting the crowd going with a joke, and they keep adding more because apparently more is funny? This was one of them, and Hardwick fell into the common comedian pitfall of saying TOO much. The joke was about how his favorite animal is the Liger, which was made popular through Napoleon Dynamite. Hardwick clarified that Liger’s can exist, and then kept talking about how humans force different animals to cross breed and make a variety species with ridiculous names. He then spoke about how humans can’t cross breed with monkeys regardless of how similar our genetic makeup is.
It would have been great if Hardwick stopped there, but sadly he kept going by describing how you can get away with having sex with your dog. Does that repulse you? It should because it’s a horrible idea. The whole bit from then on felt uncomfortable and wholly unnecessary. Nothing was really added to the humor, and I feel like this was only added for that memorable shock value. Yes it was memorable, but not for the right reasons. The good news though is that this was the only really terrible part of the entire one-hour show.
Hardwick is a really funny comedian. I’m glad he finally got his own solo special as I believe it did a great job showcasing his talents. I like Hardwick on Talking Dead, but I hope he is able to do more major comedic specials like this. Maybe he’ll even have bigger roles in movies too! I hope he does as he has talent that shouldn’t be wasted. Let’s just keep the animal/human “love” jokes at a minimum please.