A Night at Zanies with Chris Hardwick

The girlfriend and I with The Nerdist and Talking Dead's Chris Hardwick

The girlfriend and I with The Nerdist and Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwick

The Nerdist and Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwick talked about space wire, surviving the zombie apocalypse, puppetry and swordplay, awkward conversations with his father, and free brownies on a trip to Nashville over the weekend.

This past Saturday night, I went to Chris Hardwick’s stand-up act at Zanies Comedy Night Club here in Nashville. It was my first time at Zanies, or any comedy club for that matter. I’ve seen stand up before back at college when it would spring to bring some in (Mitch Hedberg live was awesome), but this setting is completely different. Instead of stadium or auditorium seating, Zanies is laid out more like a bar, with bar stools and small, intimate tables for everyone to crowd around. It makes for a relaxing feel, especially when going with groups of friends you share a table with.

Being my first time at a comedy club, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. For instance, I didn’t know that Hardwick wasn’t the only act. There were two warm-up acts – T.c. Cope and Chris Killian. They were both funny, with the first focusing on Nashville moving up in the world. Killian hit on red light cameras, the Food Network, and his intimate relationship with his Playstation. Surprisingly, all three performers are Tennesseans (T.c. Cope from Nashville, Killian from Clarksville, and Hardwick himself a Memphisian now living in LA)

The main act was Hardwick himself, and he made the hour wait outside in the rain worth it (more on that in a bit). Hardwick did an excellent job interacting with the audience, chatting up with some guys who sell space wire and asking people’s professions to assess their chances in a astroid-viral-zombie-robot apocalypse. He also turned my friend Crispy’s professions of choice – puppetry and swordplay – into a new term for bisexuality. You can figure out how that one works on your own.

The audience also got plenty of play themselves. One guy actually wore a shirt with a picture of 6th-grade Hardwick labeled “NERD,” which understandably astonished Hardwick who paused the show to take his photo. Hardwick was also astonished by a Franklin, TN bakery owner who gave him a box of brownies, a pumpkin one almost flooring him with its deliciousness. Too bad the whole class didn’t get any.

When not playing with the audience, Hardwick discussed awkward sexual conversations with his father, a former pro bowler and alley owner in Memphis. He also talked about how his equally geeky girlfriend got him to buy a kigurumi (full-body one-piece pajamas designed to resemble an animal), which turned into an eventful night with a food delivery guy.

For you Walking Dead/Talking Dead fans, Hardwick gave his nods, breaking into a Shane impression to a cop in the audience he affectionately called Rick.

After the show, which was about two hours after the first act started, Hardwick took photos and signed autographs with the crowd (hence the picture above).

The entire experience above was made all the more anticipated by an hour of waiting outside in the rain, before Zanies opened their doors and the previous audience exited. I was a tad bit soaked (my jacket and hat were drenched), but it’s partially my own fault. There was an umbrella in our car across the street, but I couldn’t leave the line. They could start letting us in at any moment, so I can’t miss grabbing my seat. Or so I thought for an hour…

The ticket price for the show was $20, and that covers the entire three-act performance. Zanies did require a minimum of two orders of food and/or beverage with the ticket, which is an admittedly cleaver way to deceptively hide some of the show’s cost. Even still, you can get in below $30, and that was still a good price for a good night of comedy and fun with friends.

Two lessons to take away: 1) there’s no intermission between acts, so be mindful of when you need a bathroom break, and 2) bring an umbrella if there’s a chance you’ll be waiting outside in the rain.

And as for Zanies, have your building manager get an awning over your sidewalk.

What comedian or stand-up act would you like to see live?


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