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April 21, 2014

Happily Ever After-Show

After-show king Chris Hardwick talks of how he keeps a presence on many platforms, including Comedy Central's @midnight.

Bruce Fretts

Chris Hardwick may be the hardest-working man in the after-show business.

He hosts Comedy Central’s @midnight (a social media–themed game show that follows The Colbert Report) and AMC’s Talking Dead, a post-mortem of The Walking Dead.

Plus, he runs the Nerdist empire of comedy and sci-fi–themed podcasts, performs stand-up and has any number of music and voiceover gigs (including a lead role on Nickelodeon’s cartoon Sanjay and Craig).

Emmy managed to carve out a few minutes with the man to discuss the Hardwick life:

How are you handling all of these gigs at once?

I don’t know where I fall on the Seacrest scale, but I don’t have a lot of free time. Because of the way my attention span works, I would probably go crazy if I just had 1 thing to do.

I have a very modular schedule — 1 hour, I’m doing a podcast; the next, it’s a conference call; the next, it’s a meeting for @midnight or Talking Dead; then I do stand-up at night and on weekends.

It all fits really nicely into the way my brain works.

Do you have a short attention span?

Short-ish. I’ve discovered that my peak productivity period is about 30 or 45 minutes on one thing, so being able to jump off to something else and start that cycle over is good.

How are you feeling about Comedy Central’s 40-week pickup for @midnight? Is that scary? 

Related Webcast:  Watch the star-studded An Evening with the Walking Dead with host Chris Hardwick 

Not at all. There were periods where I didn’t work and I wasn’t being cast because I wasn’t this enough or that enough or leading man enough, but I wasn’t goofy friend enough. I wasn’t famous enough! Or I wasn’t good enough. There are a million different reasons.

So I said, “I’m going to do the thing that makes me happy, and if the rest of the entertainment business catches up, great. If not, at least I’m happy.”

You’re going up against Letterman and Fallon and Kimmel with @midnight. This is serious business.

I guess so, but I feel like there’s enough room for everyone. What we do is so different from what everyone else does. I don’t really feel like I’m competing with anyone.

You hosted the Breaking Bad after-show, Talking Bad. What was it like being there with the cast and creator–executive producer Vince Gilligan as people were watching the finale?

I don’t think there’s any question Breaking Bad is one of the greatest series in television history. So to even be tangentially involved from the standpoint of counseling people through the last eight episodes — I was really fortunate.

Do you think you’ll do any more after-shows? Has AMC talked to you about doing Talking Mad?

As far as I know, that’s not going to happen. But of course, we have to make a joke name for every after-show, like “Talkter Who” or “Game of Thronesversations.”

But I think two after-shows is probably enough. I’m a huge Mad Men fan, though, so if [creator–executive producer] Matthew Weiner decided he wanted to do that and came to me, I would seriously consider it.

Are you going to continue to do stand-up, music, voiceovers and acting? Or are you going to cut back?

Acting is very easy to cut back on because no one hires me — I don’t know how you cut back on zero.

Stand-up is my favorite thing in the world, so I’ll always do that. Doing voiceover takes an hour-and-a-half here and there. The podcast takes an hour here and there.

@midnight is a very steady role. Talking Dead is on Sundays. Nerdist fills the grout the rest of the time. It all fits together. At this point, it’s like a fun game. I enjoy all of it.

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