The self-proclaimed nerd king is a bit bland when it comes to stand-up. Info/tix
Less a man than a living brand for the multiscreen generation, self-proclaimed king of nerds Chris Hardwick is a prime example of how far you can take the American belief that we get to reinvent ourselves. Since the early 1990s, the Louisville-born comedian has evolved and iterated on himself so many times it's unclear which appositive is best applied: XFINITY disciple? Braying AMC aftershow host? Motivational speaker? Game-show host? Singled Out alum? Musician?
The truth is it's probably none of the aforementioned, because Hardwick's strongest identity is an uncritical diplomat of nerd culture as it's become more mainstream: He loves the intersection of pop culture and nerd shit with childlike glee, apparently unaware the stuff he's aggressively championing in 2018 is no longer as fringe or under attack as it was in 1978. As he cheerleads every new comic-book movie and gadget, Hardwick misses the opportunity to use his proximity and influence to impact something in this sphere's growing influence other than blind boosterism of consumerism.
There's a tension deep inside Hardwick, something he's acknowledged in countless interviews as he overcame alcoholism and has expressed awareness and gratitude for his luck to continue and prosper in entertainment—but it's possible the vapid fanboyism that's buoyed him has cost him something deeper. Most of his stand-up consists of self-deprecation through sigh-inducing terrain, like mocking how he lost his virginity (supposedly to a blow-up doll). On the 2016 stand-up album Funcomfortable, he branches out to showcase his French accent, do imitations of Batman villains, and ponder deep stuff like how fetishists tell their children how babies are made and the craziest thing nurses pull out of butts. —David Wolinsky