Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Chris Gethard Show - Ruin This Show

 Pregame chatter with the bananaman.

 The Human Fish goes cannibal.
 I think this was the exact moment where all hopes and expectations Chris had for the show disolved into regret and self loathing.
 Conner Ratliff is 35 years old and is legally allowed to run for president, so he is. 
 The CCDT returns.
The Human Fish in all his terrestrial glory.

In 2006 I found a 1985 Topps Darryl Strawberry baseball card on the ground. On the back there was a sticker advertising an auto-biographical Darryl Strawberry one man show. My mind reeled. A couple days later I arrived at the theatre, took my seat, and the houselights went out. An announcement was made that due to illness Darryl would be unable to perform, but the role would be filled by his understudy. Chris Gethard took the stage and proceeded to do an hour long one man show AS Darryl Strawberry in the first person. Needless to say, I was an instant fan.

Since that day I’ve seen Gethard perform a few more live shows at the UCB theatre, watched him pop up in commercials, get a sitcom, lose a sitcom, interview one of his greatest detractors, get Diddy to appear on stage with him, become an author, and start his own cable access show.

The Chris Gethard show airs Wednesday nights on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network as well as online. Every week is very different, unscripted, almost always incredibly awkward, and usually hilarious. It reminds me a little of Glen O’Brien’s "TV Party" but for comedy nerds and with a proud shunning of all things cool. The cast, if it could be called such, is crew of friends, guests, some characters (such as The Human Fish) and for a while a random woman named Jean that just walked into the studio one night.

I’ve enjoyed watching The Chris Gethard Show evolve and change over the last few months, going from a quiet call-in show to a rowdy variety program. The studio audience has developed a sincere sense of ownership and community around the show that is touching to see. Gethard is a very permissive ring leader, frequently allowing guests and audience members to interject or even take over significant blocks of air time. Show themes have ranged from a presidential debate, a surprisingly well executed 1-hour broadcast of a rec-center basketball game, a sandwich night where everyone ate sandwiches, a “milkshake of death” experiment, and a full hour cold-read of monologue jokes submitted via email.

Last night I attended the show live and in person for the first time with the show theme being “Ruin This Show.” The audience was invited to attempt to ruin the show however they saw fit, with a few ground rules to ensure no equipment was harmed. My original plan was to spend the hour tormenting them with a laser pointer, but alas I left the device at home. I quickly improvised a backup and purchased a large bag of Werther’s Originals which I proceeded to unwrap throughout the show, as well as changing my ringtone at maximum volume and informing Gethard that our beloved Knicks had just lost to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. I can’t say I ruined the show, but I didn’t make it any better.

The show was a mess, lots of fun for the audience but presumably unwatchable by anyone not familiar with the characters and situations taking place. About 20 minutes in it became apparent that Gethard realized this and was visibly depressed and disappointed, much to the delight of the crowd. He had just appeared on Jimmy Fallon the night before and promoted the show, and was likely bummed to have new viewers tune in to see the random chaotic in-jokes taking place. All that said, I had a great time and was stoked to finally meet Darryl Strawberry in person.

For an overview of TCGS watch THIS.

You can watch the Ruin This Show episode and also buy Chris’s book HERE.