Q&A – Talking Dead Host Chris Hardwick
The host of AMC‘s Talking Deaddiscusses his new book on nerd culture, imagines what Mark Twain might say about The Walking Deadand explains what the zombie series has in common with his erstwhile MTV dating show, Singled Out.
Q: How did you end up hostingTalking Dead?
A: I don’t know if that’s really an exciting story. I was a fan of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman had been on my podcast, and I had somehow heard that AMC was thinking of doing a wrap-up show. And time froze for a second and I was like, “What?” I immediately got on the phone with my manager and I basically just said, “You have to get me that job!” I don’t know how you can represent that tone in text, but…
Q: Did you have to do any sort of campaigning?
A: I felt like my audition was moderating The Walking Dead panel at Comic Con. I thought, well, if I completely bone this I’m probably not going to get the job. So it worked out that I thankfully did not bone the panel and then right after that they gave me the job.
Q: Is there anyone you fantasize about having on the show?
A: I think, Mark Twain would be delightful.
Q: OK, I was sort of thinking of people who are still alive… but what do you think Mark Twain would say about The Walking Dead?
A: You see, now you make me want to sit down and write a fake Mark Twain speech about The Walking Dead filled with colorful adjectives and jumping frogs. [Laughs] I don’t know, he’d probably say there’s not enough frog-catching in the show.
Q: There’s a whole episode about frog-catching!
A: That’s right, there was! He would have particularly loved the episode about frog-catching.
VIDEO: Talking Dead Episode 201 Bonus Segment
Q: Your new book, The Nerdist Way, pretty much establishes you as the world’s biggest nerd authority. How did you come to write it?
A: It was based on an article that I had written for Wired magazine about the religion of self-help. Philosophically, it was the idea that when I was growing up, nerd culture was not a cool thing to be involved in. All the stuff that I loved, I didn’t keep it secret per se, but I just wasn’t really out in public about it because people in the ’80s were s—–y and judgy. And then it became much more accepted because now nerds are these societal overlords who control technology and pop culture.
Q: Do you ever feel protective of nerd culture against the mainstream?
A: It’s way better than the other way. No, I don’t really want to go back to the way it was. Also, one of the things about nerds is — and Talking Dead is the perfect example of this — we try to understand things on a granular level. So even if people half-ass or passively consume nerd pop culture, there’s always room for nerds to go deeper into regions people are never gonna touch. There are still nerd catacombs that the surface dwellers will not enter. [Laughs]
Q: As a nerd ambassador to the mainstream, what do you say to non-nerds to convince them to watch The Walking Dead?
A: I don’t know if I have a really good tactic other than berating them. [Laughs] “Why aren’t you watching this show? What is your problem? Why do you hate good things?”
Q: Are nerds better equipped to survive a zombie apocalypse?
A: Well, yes, mentally they are. But there still is a lot of machete-swinging that’s gonna have to get done. It’s funny, especially after The Walking Dead, a lot of times I’m in public and I do a quick five-second thing where I look around and note the exits and what could make a good weapon. [Laughs] I really do find myself very sincerely trying to figure it out, and then I’m like, “Wait. What the f— am I doing?”
Q: If the characters from The Walking Dead were featured in an episode of MTV’s Singled Out, who do you think would wind up being paired together?
A: [Laughs] Well, look. It wouldn’t matter because no one on that show ever got along. I think it wouldn’t matter who got paired up, Shane would end up f—–g everyone, including [co-host] Jenny [McCarthy]. [Laughs]
Q: Wait a minute. You’re saying there was never a love connection on that show?
A: No one ever went on dates. Our success rate was very low.
Q: That’s so disillusioning.
A: [Laughs] I’m so sorry. I guess The Walking Dead really is a societal version of Singled Out. Humans are being narrowed down, and then you’re sort of left with someone and you better f—— hope you like them. We were pairing people up to win, like, snowboards. Not survival. The stakes are way higher now.
AMC’s Talking Dead, hosted by Chris Hardwick, returns with all-new episodes Sun., Feb. 12 at Midnight/11c on AMC.