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TV Junkie Interview: Chris Hardwick's 'Web Soup' & The Improv

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Chris Hardwick's "Web Soup" began a new run on G4 (Wednesdays at 8pm) and he performs 2 shows at the Improv in Hollywood tonight (7:30 & 9:30pm)


Chris Hardwick's "Web Soup" began a new run on G4 (Wednesdays at 8pm) and he performs 2 shows at the Improv in Hollywood tonight (7:30 & 9:30pm)
Comedian, writer, and musician Chris Hardwick's "Web Soup" had its 2nd season premiere on G4 this week and the show is off to a great start with some adjustments that Hardwick elaborated on in a conversation we had at G4's offices on Wednesday. Hardwick will also be performing two sets tonight at The Improv in Hollywood. More info: Check out G4's website for more info on "Web Soup" (Wednesdays at 8pm), Hardwick's website The Nerdist, and The Improv's page for tonight's shows (7:30 & 9:30pm). Also look for Hardwick's Gadget Pr0n segments on G4's "Attack of the Show".LAist: In this second season of "Web Soup", are you making any adjustments or new segments?

Chris Hardwick: We're definitely shooting new segments and what we realized after the first season, that it's a little boring to just be doing web videos, so we decided to blow it out to include anything you can find on the web which gives us the opportunity to do more pop culture commentary. We did a thing on "24" in the first episode, we'll be doing a bunch of stuff on "Lost", and now on "Big Love" there's a character doing video blogs and now that's fair game. Just kind of blowing it out, and making it less about YouTube videos and more about pop culture is going to be more fun for us and everybody else.

LAist: Could you give us some insight on how the show gets put together?

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Chris Hardwick: We have 300 chimps hooked up to machines and they are programmed to flinch whenever they see something worthy of the show and that gets picked up and processed and uploaded to our server for production. Beyond that we have a research team that is made of actual people, and we're at the point where that people are sending me and the team clips via Twitter and email to put on the show whereas before we had to hunt down content and ask permission for it. We now go through these submissions and create a master cloud of clips that we like and then we have two full-blown writing sessions before we shoot each episode where we pick the choicest videos and kick jokes around and make a show around them.

But now what's happening is that we're shooting the show the day before it airs so that we can have stuff as fresh and new as possible. So we will be able to refer to what happened on "Lost" that week or whatever is current, so we will be pulling stuff in that day of shooting if possible.

LAist: So you're sensitive to the timeliness issue?

Chris Hardwick: We're sensitive to timeliness now because the first season it was more about making episodes that could air forever but then we've been thinking that if we're doing pop culture commentary we have to do stuff that's a little fresher. Now I've heard [sarcastically], but I can't confirm this, that we're not the only web video clip show out there, but I don't know if this is true or not. I still think we are but I've heard rumors that we might not be. So just being able to do the show in this way helps eliminate any potential crossover. We don't watch any other [similar] show because we don't ever want to get in a defensive mindset about the content so we just put stuff up that we like and if we're finding stuff the day before the show airs then there's less chance crossover might happen.

LAist: I've heard that this other potential web video clip show shoots it's episodes in more of a clump at the beginning of the season.

Chris Hardwick: Right, the ultimate goal is to get on the same track as "The Soup", because all their episodes are "fair use" so they can use anything because they do over 40 episodes per year and it's all "fair use". Part of our show is "fair use" content and part of it is stuff that we license and the fun part of that is that the guy who blows up the air bag into his junk is someone we track down and ask him to sign a waiver so that we can use the clip of him doing that.

It's funny that you have these people doing these completely ridiculous things and then there's an actual legal side of it where they have to sit down and sign a contract that says "Yes, I give you permission to use the clip 'man explodes air bag into balls'" and you have a very serious conversation about it - that part makes me laugh, that there's a business-y part to web videos.

LAist: In this season how many episodes are you guys planning?

Chris Hardwick: It's indefinite, they're just letting us go and make as many episodes as we can. Last season we started, then took a break, then started again, and we ended up with 19 episodes and we plan on more than that this year.

LAist: Did I hear correctly that you'll be on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" next week?

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Chris Hardwick: Yes, I'll be on Jimmy Fallon next Thursday (March 11th) and it's super fun, he's a comic, so he'll just riff with you which is a lot different than your typical talk show where it goes "you'll say this and then Jay will say that and then you'll respond with this and then we'll break for commercial". Jimmy just says, "here's a list of topics we might cover" and then you just talk and you end up with a much more organic experience.

LAist: Plus Fallon is a technophile and a lover of the internet.

Chris Hardwick: Yes he is, and his producer used to be executive producer on (G4's) "Attack of the Show" and they did a smart thing by realizing that there's a late night audience out there that will be getting older eventually versus all the other hosts who are at least 10 years older than him and that's a serious gap.

LAist: Tell us about the Improv shows this weekend (tonight at 7:30pm & 9:30pm).

Chris Hardwick: The 7:30 show is going to be hosted by Fred Belford, Jonah Ray, and my buddy Mike Phirman who is the other half of my band Hard 'n Phirm, and Duncan Trussell and myself. Then the 9:30 is hosted by Paul Cibis, Blaine Capatch who writes on "Web Soup" as well, and then Greg Behrendt and myself. And then on April 5th I will start doing a monthly show at the Largo. I started doing a weekly podcast a month ago and the Largo had been asking me if I wanted to do a monthly but it didn't make sense to do just another standup night since I do so much in LA, so we decided that we would do one of my podcasts live every month at the Largo. Our first guest is going to be Adam Savage from "Mythbusters" and he's written some sort of a monologue that he will perform and then we will roundtable and that will be the first show of what will be a monthly podcast at the Largo.
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Chris Hardwick performs tonight at The Improv (7:30 & 9:30pm), and will be appearing monthly at the new Largo at the Coronet starting on April 5th.

For more info: Check out G4's website for "Web Soup" (Wednesdays at 8pm), Hardwick's website The Nerdist, and follow Hardwick on Twitter @Nerdist.