Hugs to the Nerdist

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I stumbled upon the Nerdist Podcast sometime in 2012. I was on the hunt for some new things to listen to during the work day and I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but one day, there it was on iTunes. Looking back on the last year and a half, I can’t believe how much the podcast has changed me for the better.

I’ve had a post like this floating around in my head for sometime, and in light of recent events, and the holiday season too, it seemed like the best time to finally formally say thanks to a person who has made such a significant impression in such a short time.

A simple thank you blog post to Chris Hardwick and Co. will never be enough, but that’s all I got, so here goes nothing.

The Real Deal
The podcast marketplace is flooded with content these days, and while there are hundreds to choose from and subscribe to on any given day, the Nerdist Podcast was one of the few that hooked me right away. Sure, it had a seemingly unending roster of A-list guests and didn’t cost me a dime, but that wasn’t why I kept coming back.

Based on comments made during many hostfuls, I know Chris Hardwick has been called many things throughout his career. But what I don’t think is discussed often enough is how genuinely kind he is. Now, that’s a word that gets tossed around a lot in Hollywood, but I don’t know that anyone truly embodies it the way Hardwick does. He cares about everything and everyone. And he means it.

How could I possibly know that? Well, for starters, I saw him perform at Zanies in Rosemont last December and not only did he sign autographs and take pictures after the show (I got both!), but he did so at his own suggestion! He didn’t put in his hour and run off the stage, he made the most of every minute and made sure we all walked away having experienced a delightful evening of comedy. I could already sense his sincerity via podcast, but there was definitely no mistaking it in person.

The Sister Wives
The hostfuls would not be possible without Jonah Ray and Matt Mira. I mean, I suppose Hardwick could talk for an hour by himself if he had to, and I know I would still tune in, but that said, the dynamic duo provides some nice depth on the occasional episodes without a guest. Incidentally, it took a good 20 or so hostfuls to finally be able to tell their voices apart. Special thanks to Jonah’s Bing commercials and the love for Dave Matthews Band I share with Matt for assisting in that breakthrough.

Hello, Comedy

Comedy has become such a big part of my life now that I can’t even remember a time when I couldn’t rattle off 10 of my favorite comedians, or cite random jokes or stories from the industry’s finest. That would not have been possible without the Nerdist Podcast. Previously, the extent of my comedy knowledge was Seinfeld, Dane Cook, and Chandler Bing. Thanks to the Nerdist, I’m well versed on everyone from Sarah Silverman to Anthony Jeselnik, Jackie Kashian, Doug Benson, Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins, Jim Gaffigan, and many, many more. And really, all of the episodes could probably be classified as comedy. Being a comedian himself, Hardwick has an innate ability to find humor in just about anything, regardless of who’s on, and it’s often evident that the guests enjoy his wit all the same.

Tina and Tom and Zooey, Oh My!
Speaking of guests, one of the things I love most about the Nerdist Podcast is its penchant for variety. There’s no telling who may be on next. I’ve long thought about trying to keep up with recaps, or at the very least, make note of my favorite guests, but at 300-plus episodes and counting, there’s simply too many. Every episode, from the hostfuls to the Tina Fey, Tom Hanks, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Hamm, Damon Lindelof, Aaron Paul, Joel McHale, Nick Offerman, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Scott, Connie Britton, Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Michael C. Hall, Bill Hader, you get the picture, have been beyond wonderful.

It’s also worth noting that the interviews are unscripted. Coming from a journalism background, I’ve learned an enormous amount about how to talk to people in an entertaining and engaging way, and how to make a conversation really flow, and get the absolute most out of a person. Thanks to Hardwick’s talent for really connecting with his guests (and on the hostfuls, too), every episode of the podcast is chock-full of interesting anecdotes and heartfelt exchanges you simply cannot find anywhere else. Thanks to the podcast, I feel more knowledgeable about the world and current events than I ever have before.

Enjoy Your Burrito
I’ve fanned on the Nerdist pretty hard, but it’s because he really, truly deserves it. Thank you, Chris Hardwick, for your kindness, your passion for creating compelling content, and for always being there if I need a good laugh or simply just want to be entertained. The podcast’s signature send-off, “Enjoy Your Burrito,” has been a subtle, yet important reminder to live life to the fullest, and I think about it often.

One final note, I would just like to send my sincere condolences to Chris Hardwick. His father, Billy, died suddenly on Nov. 16, and even though I knew him only through his Nerdist Podcast episode and the various things Chris mentioned about him over the years, I was crushed to learn the news. I am certain he was just as proud of Chris as Chris was of him. Sending lots of hugs!

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