Chris Hardwick is the king of nerds. Well, maybe he’s the president. Is a collection of nerds a monarchy? Maybe he’s some kind of chancellor or prime minister. At any rate, Chris Hardwick is a nerd and a proud one at that. His latest special, Mandroid, thoroughly illustrates his obsessions, passions, and opinions by way of jokes utilizing a variety of topics from hamster ejaculate to having sex with a dog. I apologize for skewing Hardwick’s material by making it seem like he only talks about animal sexuality. Never fear: this special isn’t solely about bestiality.
Hardwick’s set relies on his obsessive nature and the lifestyle one develops from being a lifelong social outcast. When it works best is when Hardwick crafts a great joke by using his nerdiness rather than overtly referencing it. It’s hilarious to hear Hardwick ramble in German with the cadence of a knock-knock joke and follow it with a translation that explains the meaninglessness of peaches and the nonexistence of God. It’s a joke that’s smart, references German philosophy, and is even partly told in another language. It shows Hardwick using his nerdisms to tell a joke rather than just referencing them (I know I’m being liberal with the nerd-terms here, but I think it’s easy to catch on to these made-up words, so brace yourself for another). It’s like Hardwick’s nerditude is a tool — let’s say a hammer. When he uses that hammer to hit a nail, everyone has a great time with jokes about ligers and German existentialism. When he shows you that hammer, though, and talks about what kind of hammer it is and how it’s similar or different to other tools, it’s only fun for people who know anything about hammers.
It’s the niche element of Hardwick’s set that makes some of his jokes not work as well as others. The moments where he explains what it’s like to be so obsessive or considered an outcast during his youth are endearing at times. However, the same angle gets repetitious and exhaustive by the end of the set. It never comes off as annoying or unbearable, but Hardwick’s special would have been much better served by him using his hammer (hey, look, I tossed in a penis joke with my hammer analogy) rather than talking about it. If you didn’t like that hammer analogy, this review probably isn’t doing anything for you, and I apologize to those of you who don’t care for analogies or household tools.
There are plenty of hilarious bits in Mandroid. Hardwick is a great comedian, and when he uses his nerdy outlook on life to construct a joke, it usually works well. However, there are also bits in Mandroid that are a little too niche to fit in with the rest of the set. Avid fans of Hardwick’s work will surely latch onto the pop culture references and embarrassing stories of being a socially inept youngster. Everyone else will certainly enjoy Mandroid, but this one is really for the nerds.
Here Hardwick talks about the evils of “hipster” nerds:
Final Rating: The number of nerd-words we can all come up with (I think we can each at least come up with like… three?) out of π. Sorry, I meant pie. The nerd-word number thing out of pie. This is confusing.
Mandroid recently aired on Comedy Central. The DVD release of the one-hour special will be released early next year and can be purchased through Amazon or Comedy Central. Also check out his very popular/hilarious podcast, The Nerdist.