Self-Help for Nerds

Chris Hardwick aims to move geeks off the sofa and into real life


Chris Hardwick was overweight and unhappy until he found the Nerdist Way.

In his first book, “The Nerdist Way” ($25, Berkley), comedian Chris Hardwick describes a Nerdist as “an artful nerd.” A Nerdist “doesn’t just consume,” he writes. “He or she creates and innovates.”

The Nerdists’ moment is now, Hardwick argues, but not all are fully equipped for success. “Nerds have an unnatural ability to focus on things at a molecular level,” Hardwick says, “and they do it at the expense of everything else in their lives.”

In other words, you can play Xbox 360 all day if want, but that’s not going to get you a job or a mate. So, Hardwick wrote a self-help book to get nerds off the couch. Sample passage: “We love to talk about the butterfly effect in terms of time-travel movies. Why can’t the same be true for lifestyle changes?” (Translation: Small changes can have dramatic, lasting effects.)

Hardwick, 39, started out nerdy. He was a member of the chess club and a player of Dungeons & Dragons, passions that got him stuffed in a trash can by bullies. But at age 22, Hardwick’s image was transformed when he landed a job hosting the MTV dating show “Singled Out.” Young and naive, Hardwick proceeded to drink his way through his 20s.

In 2003, he resolved to get sober and return to his roots. By focusing his mind, getting healthier and developing hobbies other than partying, Hardwick transformed himself into the Ryan Seacrest of geeks with “The Nerdist,” a weekly podcast that spawned a live performance series (essentially Hardwick and his co-hosts Matt Mira and Jonah Ray doing stand-up) and TV specials for BBC America. He also hosts “Web Soup” on G4 and “Talking Dead,” a live show that follows “The Walking Dead” on AMC.

You could say Hardwick has been reformed by Nerdism. “I tend to get a lot of stuff done in a day, and I didn’t in my 20s,” he says. “I was a huge screw-up, and I had to turn to all the nerdy sides of my brain to pull myself out.”

9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; with Matt Mira, Jonah Ray; Fri., sold out; 202-265-0930. (U St.-Cardozo)
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Rudi Greenberg · January 3, 2012