Nerdist Chris Hardwick at Varsity Theatre in MPLS…and Neil Gaiman!
A couple of weeks ago I was trying to convince a few of my friends to drive to Chicago with me to watch Arcade Fire perform for my birthday, which I’ve heard was a fantastic show. But, my friends didn’t want to pay the extra money (despite being able to buy under face value tickets) to drive down to Chicago, pay for gas, pay for food, pay for a hotel, etc. Ok, no problems.
Then Chris Hardwick of G4’s Gadget Pr0n, Web Soup, and The Nerdist fame, announced on Twitter that he was coming to the Varsity Theatre on the University of Minnesota campus (Dinkytown, properly) on May 6. So within moments of seeing the text, I decided to go ahead and buy myself one ticket to the show. (Screw those other guys.)
So I just saw Chris Hardwick at the Varsity Theatre, and it was one of the most amazing standup performances I have ever seen!
Here’s how the day went. Chris Hardwick tweeted when he landed in Minneapolis, and then sometime this afternoon, he tweeted that he was going to be going over to Burrito Loco at 5 pm for dinner and that everyone should meet up there before the show. I got off work at 5 pm and drove over there, found some back alley free parking, and walked over to Burrito Loco. Place was packed since finals had just gotten off, and at first I was looking around thinking I had missed the meetup with Chris, but then I noticed him standing four places in front of me in line ordering his burrito! The line kept on moving, but someone had left him a spot at a table that was just crammed with people, so I ended up sitting at a different table away from the main Nerdist group while I ate my Burrito Loco skinless burrito (buffalo chicken, black beans, seasoned sour cream, double mild and verde salsa, guac…fantastic as always). But after I finished my burrito bowl and another group of college students left, I managed to find room to sit at the end of the long table.
And was promptly welcomed by Chris Hardwick! I introduced myself, said hi, made small talk, all that fun stuff. Then a bunch of people starting to ask him for a quick photo with him, and after he was done with them, I sheepishly asked if I could get my photo taken with him as well, even though “this wasn’t why I came over here.” As we lined up for the photo, he cracked a joke about how all the photos he was taken of in Minneapolis would be against a brick wall…so I had to respond, “Yeah, welcome to Minnesota!”. Which got a laugh from Chris.
15 minutes or so later Chris took off to prepare for the show, and eventually I wandered over to the Varsity Theatre a block away, and joined the queue for GA.
We got inside an hour before the show started, and I started getting antsy. I started checking Twitter and noticed Neil Gaiman was on and and posting. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, absolutely love his books and comics, and he lives locally in Minnesota. Plus, Chris Hardwick and Neil Gaiman are friends…so I casually asked Neil if he was coming to Chris’ show tonight, and I tagged Chris in the tweet.
And Neil Gaiman freaking responded!! Here I am sitting there, third row from the stage (by choice), bored, but having a (sort of) conversation with Neil Gaiman. Who sadly said he was a bad friend to Chris Hardwick and couldn’t come to the show, he was working (yay!) and his daughter was going to prom the following night (congrats Maddy!).
AND THEN CHRIS HARDWICK FREAKING RESPONDED TO BOTH OF US!! Ok, it’s one thing to meet the person you are going to see at a local restaurant before the show. It’s another thing to have him freaking tweeting you from behind the stage. He said that he’d of course have to come back to Minneapolis just so that Neil Gaiman could come to his show sometime.
So I suggested (still by tweeting) that Neil Gaiman would make a great guest on The Nerdist podcast. Then Neil Gaiman responded (“Brilliant.” – so poetic and forceful!) and asked Chris if Chris had seen his episode of Dr. Who. Which Chris didn’t get around to responding to that I saw at least (conversation may have gone private at that point). And I, perhaps stupidly, made a joke about Prince doing a phone-in on The Nerdist podcast (what can I say; I get stupid and don’t think when I get real excited), and admitted to Neil Gaiman (and Chris Hardwick…) that I had never seen an episode of Dr. Who. So of course as soon as Chris Hardwick took the stage, I was slightly afraid he’d call me out on it. Beer man, can I have a Strongbow please? Probably not the smartest thing to admit to a guy who wrote an episode of Dr. Who and to Chris Hardwick, the first American Dr. Who, that I had never seen an episode. But because of The Nerdist influence, I’ve been slowly looking into Dr. Who, and I’m planning on watching as much of it as I can this summer.
(In my fantasy world, Neil Gaiman would have invited Chris Hardwick and I to come to his house and watch his episode of Dr. Who. I’ve always wanted to see Neil’s study and library, and that would have been the best possible introduction to Dr. Who ever.)
A local nerdish comic opened briefly for Chris Hardwick, but then Chris came on stage and blew everyone away. The show was definitely NSFW, but was hilariously appropriate and inappropriate. There was clearly a script of jokes that was being followed, but Chris broke it up with plenty of audience interactions, including having an extended conversation with the (very attractive)(and who was wearing a huge diamond ring) woman sitting next to me. She was notable because she was wearing a homemade Nerdist tribute t-shirt which Chris Hardwick obviously appreciated. Lots of heckling with the crowd, especially when the “beer man” came down the aisle “DURING A COMEDY SHOW?!? THIS IS AWESOME!” Which prompted a lengthy discussion about Surly beer and alcohol. He had a great set, with plenty of great jokes that had me dying.
So it was a great day and a great evening. Thank you Chris Hardwick (and Neil Gaiman!) for a memorable night and finishing off this birthday (gift) properly. You are both great guys, top shelf gentlemen, and I hope to one day sit down and chat with both of you.
Perhaps at that Nerdist Minneapolis Hardwick/Gaiman/Prince/Blessman podcast?
I really need to learn to take better photos with my iPhone 4…