Photo: Atisha Paulson
The Chris Gethard Show has some auspicious beginnings. By the time it hits FUSION on May 28th, it will have grown from a stage show at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to public access television to something that Gethard hopes is akin to a real life video game, with fans driving every bit of the programming. Though Gethard is picking up recognition not just for his standup but for his roles on Broad City, Parks and Recreation, and appearances on Inside Amy Schumer, he hopes to keep the focus of his show on the people at home. We asked him about how fans can get involved and his dream guests.
You’re coming to FUSION. What can you tell us about your new show?
The show is going to be really different, in ways that are exciting to me. A lot of that is because we’re aiming to make it as interactive as possible. I grew up obsessed with talk shows, and obsessed with David Letterman in particular. I think David Letterman is a guy who really changed the form of talk shows. He made those things that are sort of locked in now. I think we’re going to do our best to kind of break all of those things that are locked in and see what happens—to make it something that people really feel like they are in control of, make it feel like if you watch this show you are able to leave your fingerprints on it in a real way.
I feel like with things like Twitter and Periscope and Snapchat and all these ways that you can interact with each other, we’re going to let people really do that with our TV show and let them see themselves in control of the show. You can show up on the show. You can Skype in. You can direct us on what to do and we’ll do it. We’re going to make it a really interactive show that people know they can be a part of. And I think that’s an exciting thing and hopefully people embrace it.
And it’s also going to be really weird, on top of it. In general it’ll be a strange show.
Who are your dream guests? Who would you love to see on the show?
I’m really psyched about a lot of the guests we’re getting. They’re really great. If I could say who the dream guests would be: David Letterman would be a big one, just because it is a talk show and he is a guy who did so much strange stuff with the talk show. I’d like to see if he liked our show. I feel like he would either really like it or really hate it, so I’d love to have him on and kind of see that unfold in person.
And then, I don’t know, I’m a strange guy so I’d like to see what would happen if we got like, old wrestlers. I’d like to see what would happen if we got Rowdy Roddy Piper on the show and just see what happens. [I like] people that don’t make any sense.
I like to put people in an environment where the people watching the show feel like they’re not separated from those guests. Like the guests are not far away in Hollywood with this wall between them. I’d love to get somebody like Kanye West for example and see what’s the most ludicrous thing we can get him to participate in—to allow 15 year olds in Omaha to call up and ask him questions directly. People like that, people who are either heroes of mine or people who feel particularly untouchable. I’d love to see what happens if we could get someone like Beyoncé to totally let her guard down and offer all access to the fans for half an hour.
What talk shows do you like that are out there now? What do you think your show is going to bring that’s going to be different?
As far as the shows that I like now, I think there’s a lot of cool stuff going on. One show that I’m always impressed by is actually Watch What Happens Live by Andy Cohen. I think that show is really kind of innovative and progressive and smart. The way he uses the internet and interaction is really cool.
As far as what’s going to be different and interactive about our show is like I feel like if you watch our show, I’m really attentive and want to give you access to it. For example, we existed as a public access show for many years before this. We used to have a guy who would call our show from Sweden, and it was really cool. We were like “oh my god this guy in Sweden is watching online.” And then he came to New York and we let him cohost the show for two episodes. We’re really trying to put our money where our mouth is with interactive in a big way. I don’t think that having something be interactive means “yeah we’ll do a hashtag or we’ll tweet at you.” I think it’s really looking for a human experience and looking to connect human beings with each other. One of the episodes we did back in the day, this girl called our show and said, “I think you guys are kind of funny, but I don’t really get what you are going for.” And I said, “that’s ok, it’s a strange little show.” She was like, “yeah I’m in New York and I don’t know.” And I said, “We’re in New York too, why don’t you jump in cab and come hang out?” And she did. She showed up in our studio and we wound up having her on the show for 15 weeks in a row. She became a cast member. I want to make that a human experience. I want that to be—I might show up and do a live show broadcast from your living room. Or if you call our show and the show’s really good we might fly you out and I might let you host it for the next week. We really look for ways to have people know that you are in control. Because I feel like now we live in a world where people expect it—isn’t that that whole appeal of Twitter? If a kid can go online and say “Hey Brad Pitt I didn’t like your last movie,” he might see it. I think that’s a really fascinating thing. I like the idea that people who kind of grew up used to interacting, and used to leaving comments on the entertainment they consume, and used to giving instant feedback—I want to allow them to be in the driver’s seat. I almost view our show less as a TV show and more as a video game where we are characters that the audience gets to control.
When you have the time, what are some of your favorite TV shows or even online shows? Especially in comedy, what is piquing your interest right now?
I’m very obsessed with Game of Thrones. Just finished off Daredevil on Netflix. I thought that that was really an amazing thing. I’m a big comic book nerd and I thought that adaptation was really insanely great. As far as comedy goes, there are a handful of things that jump out. I’m really lucky to have a small part on Broad City, so it’s kind of a cop out to say that. But I think that show is really progressive and I think Abbi and Illana are really attacking it hard and that show is really them. It’s unapologetic. I really like the The Eric Andre Show—that show is so bizarre and insane, but it’s really like an eye-opening thing that really gets you to kind of take a step back and really think about what it is and why it’s so aggressive. I really like stuff like that that shakes you out of what you are used to experiencing and makes it reconsider it.
Don’t miss the surely-weird-should-be-fun premiere of The Chris Gethard Show on Thursday, May 28th at 10/9c on FUSION (Ch. 342).