As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And, “only the good die young.” And, “lose well.” And of course, “eat more butts.” After a successful two-year run at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, as well as an impressive four-year run on New York public access channel MNN, The Chris Gethard Show is finally moving to a new home. As announced on last night’s show, titular host Chris Gethard is moving his goofy crew of human aquatic animals and hula-hooping all stars to Fusion, a cable network that is a subsidiary of Disney and Universal. We spoke to Gethard on the precipice of this huge move.
What has been the biggest thing you’ve taken away from your time as host of The Chris Gethard Show so far?
The main thing I’ve taken away is that there’s a massive amount of people out there, this sort of silent fringe group of people that just don’t want to be viewed as a number or counted amongst a demographic. They’re sensitive and smart and creative and choose to do things their own way, and I’m lucky that so many of them found our show and called into it and participated in all kinds of ways. I think television works in this way where it tracks who’s watching their show, it kind of constantly susses out who’s on the grid and how to identify them. But there are people who flee from that grid. Those are our people. Growing up I always felt like I was kind of on the outside looking in, I was always a bit angry and felt like I didn’t fit into a slot. And when we started on public access, one of my main goals was to make a show that would have appealed to me when I was that confused and angry kid. And those kids found us. I’m so proud of that and inspired by it.
Do you have a favorite episode of the show?
I have so many that rank up there. We’ve done a lot of experimentation and a lot of time it’s fallen on its face but a lot of it is stuff I have such fond memories of. At the end of the day though, my favorite episode is the one where we finally met Alyssa, a teenager who loved comedy and had been calling our show for a long time. She hung out in the studio and I called in a ton of favors and had people who acted in and wrote for shows she loved come by and hang out and give her advice. I think it was a nice thing to do, and it was so cool to see that the celebrities who chose to be a part of it were just down to be kind. And one of my favorite things to do is to really find out who the fans of this how are and work hard to put them on a pedestal. I really don’t think of this as my show, I think of it as a thing that I’m entrusted to protect and further on behalf of the fans. I really get turned off by a lot of television that works under the premise of “You watch us.” I know this sounds insane, but I don’t think it has to be that way anymore. We now live in a world where we can all be a part of something together, and I think the central premise that television is a one way experience is really dated. It’s a populist thing, the people drive it, the people make it thrive. I like connecting with the people.
Favorite guest, musical or otherwise?
There have been so many and it’s very hard to choose. Since you said musical, I’ll go with that and say that one of my all time things that ever happened was when Jeff Rosenstock came on the show. Jeff is the best and since he came on the show we’ve gotten to know each other and I think we’re real kindred spirits in some ways. Our crowd decided to overrun the show from the start that week and was chanting the phrase “Eat More Butts”. For like half an hour. I couldn’t even speak, they wouldn’t let me. And Jeff really saw that chaos and embraced it and without anyone cueing him to do so he and his band started playing an improvised soundtrack underneath the Eat More Butts chant and then seamlessly transitioned it into the song they’d been planning on playing. And then right back into Eat More Butts. It was this sort of unbelievable audible he called and it worked and it was just this whole room of musicians and audience members and comedians that went on this sort of non-drug fueled hallucination together. It was really odd. And also so dumb. I really, really love when smart people do dumb things. I think a lot of the best comedy is smart people doing dumb things in a smart way.
If you have something you want to say, you have a right to say it. I think you actually have a responsibility to say it. You owe that to yourself.
Who’s been the most memorable caller?
Definitely the guy who called up and told us that when he was a teenager he went to Disney World and was sitting next to a toddler who was a family friend. And he couldn’t explain what came over him, but he leaned over and kissed the baby on the mouth. It was such a bizarre phone call. Because the guy wasn’t like a pedophile or a predator. He was just like “Yeah in a bizarre moment of my insane hormonal teenage years, I once gave a baby a peck on the mouth while in a dark tunnel at Disney World.” So bizarre. Also, during the Genuine Sadness every call was intense and sad and some of them straight up involved murder and divorce. But it wound up being a pretty positive episode.
What’s next for The Chris Gethard Show?
We are heading to a new home on basic cable! There’s a network called Fusion and they’re new and have a really progressive view of what tv should be, and how it should interact with the internet, and how and why building a fan base is important. They’re so rad and they’re down to help us cause trouble. They have actively encouraged us to get weird and cause trouble. Personally, I don’t think they know quite what they’re getting into when they say that to us. But they swear they want us going big, and we are very happy to oblige. They have been so cool and they really get what we’re going for and we all know that this thing is an experiment and it might fail. But I am so beyond motivated to make them look good, to prove them right for taking a chance on us.
What made you decide to move to a cable channel?
We finally found a partner who understood what we were going for, wanted to further it instead of reining it in, and was willing to give us a budget to make it happen. In other meetings I’d sensed networks that were into one or two of those building blocks, but these guys are the real deal and have all of them in place. I’m insanely protective of the show and would much rather kill it than do it someplace that wouldn’t let us do it right. These guys are giving us a chance to do it right. Now it’s on me to make them look like geniuses for doing so.
How are you adapting or changing the show to fit the new format? will you incorporate callers or a live audience?
The show will be half an hour long now. Outside of that, it will mostly be the same. The show will not be live on the network, but we’re setting up a system where people everywhere will be able to attend the tapings online. I think we live in a world now where you shouldn’t have to live in a big city to see a show get made. I’m telling you, Fusion gets the internet. More than most people I’ve ever met. And they know our fans want to participate live, want to call, want to Skype in, want to leave their fingerprints on this thing and be a part of it. We’re going to make it happen. We’re going to make the internet and TV become friends that ping pong ideas back and forth. People are going to feel embraced. If you want to get lost in the world of this show, we are going to make it very easy.
Are you staying in NY for the show?
You know it.
What is your advice to anyone who wants to host their own show?
Find a way. If you have something you want to say, you have a right to say it. I think you actually have a responsibility to say it. You owe that to yourself. If you are creative, vomit it up. If a door slams in your face, kick a hole through the wall and get in that way. Shout from the street corners. Find a way.
When can we expect the first episode of your cable show?
Sometime in April, it looks like. If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr, I promise we will barrage you with the exact dates as soon as they become official.