Television Review: The Chris Gethard Show on Fusion

I cannot stress how socially uncomfortable things are about to get – Chris Gethard

There are a number of quotes I could have taken from the first episode of The Chris Gethard Show that aired on Fusion earlier this year; many of them would be appropriate, but the one at the top of this post is TCGS in a nutshell. The Chris Gethard Show is special, which is why it had a large online following before it even aired on cable television in the United States. Starting out at the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre in New York before moving to a Manhattan Public Access station, The Chris Gethard Show, or TCGS, is one of the few television shows I’ve seen that is truly unique. Host Chris Gethard is refreshingly open about his issues, especially living with depression and anxiety, that when I decided to watch the first two episodes of this version of TCGS on YouTube, I was immediately annoyed that I didn’t include it on my “list” of respectful pop culture depictions of mental illness. It’s a late night show, so it doesn’t quite fall into what I was thinking, but it should be there, because Gethard doesn’t just discuss his insecurities, he embraces them.

I found The Chris Gethard Show when I was in the final semester of my Masters degree – for better or for worse, we’ll never know. I’d heard David Sims talk about it on Twitter and his first podcast (his current podcast, which he also hosts with Sonia Saraiya can be found here), and then I read his review on The A.V. Club. It sounded bizarre, and one day I decided to watch it, which was easy because all of the episodes were available on Blip.tv. I didn’t immediately fall in love with this show, but there was something about its energy that was unlike anything else I’d seen on television. By the time I’d made it through Random Jean’s time on the show (I want to say the specific episode was “Dance Battle“), my family wanted to know what exactly I was laughing at. The difficulty is that TCGS is difficult to explain. It’s a late night show with call-in topics, comedy and live music, but it’s also so much more than that. In “Show Us The Weirdest Thing About Your Body”, Gethard says he’s not a perfect person, his show isn’t perfect, but it’s not made for perfect people. He then lists off groups of people that his show is for – I was going to transcribe it, but he was speaking so fast and there were lots of categories, so I missed it. But if you’ve ever felt out of place, The Chris Gethard Show is for you.

It was therefore perfect that the first episode of TCGS on Fusion was titled “Show Us The Weirdest Thing About Your Body”, with guests Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer of Broad City fame. Abbi and Ilana are friends with Chris from UCB, and Chris plays Ilana’s long-suffering boss on Broad City. Chris’ opening monologue is about the weirdest things about his body and how he’s grown to appreciate them – Chris is a much different person to when this show first came to public access, and it shows. I’d say he’s in a much better place mentally, and he’s married to the lovely Hallie Bulleit, the lead singer of the in-house band. Callers to the show Skype in to show the weirdest parts of their body, the studio audience, who all sit on the floor (another carry-over from his public access days) show off their weird body parts. Then of course Chris has set up a special screened off monitor on which callers can show him their genitals. Ilana Glazer being herself, decides to join Chris, and they describe the genitals while Abbi and Shannon, Chris’ sidekick and best friend, draw them. TCGS isn’t a perfect show, but it’s damn near perfect in its imperfection.

The move to Fusion has seen The Chris Gethard Show cut down from a 60 minute show to a 22 minute show to allow for ads, but it remains the same as it always was, just a little bit shinier. Everyone’s favourites are there: Shannon O’Neill, Bethany Hall, Murf Meyer, the Human Fish and the LLC to name a few. Long time fans of the show will also recognise familiar faces in the audience, and while I wish this show was still an hour long, I’m just happy that it exists at all. For a long time Chris was paying for this show out of his own pocket, and all these talented people deserve to be paid for all their hard work. Will Ferrell was on the most recent episode performing weddings (that one’s not up on YouTube yet, so I haven’t seen it), and it’s not as bizarre as the Hintmaster Show, but new audiences probably need a little time to adjust.

You can find all of the Public Access Years of The Chris Gethard Show on Blip.tv and visit the show’s website and play Chris’ video game Hug Out as featured on Episode 2. New episodes of The Chris Gethard Show air Thursdays at 10pm Eastern on Fusion and are available for worldwide viewing the following week on YouTube, which is where I watch them because of my location.

Funniest bits that I was able to transcribe:

  • You can tell that TCGS is now legit because the casts’ names are at the bottom of the screen. In the first episode, this is what was under Chris’ name: Host, Low Self-Esteem
  • “If it gets uncomfortable, just let me know and I’ll feel guilty forever.”
  • “If you mess up it’s just perhaps the end of my career”
  • “You look beautiful with or without teeth”
  • “Ask and ye shall receive, to quote Diddy”
  • There’s a segment called “Last Call with Murf”, where Murf talks about his favourite whiskey. I can’t entirely remember, I just wrote down that it was perfect.
  • Now that TCGS is legit, they have a name for the area of the studio with live music. It’s called “That corner over there where music happens”, and it’s sponsored by at&t
  • The TCGS crew took David Letterman’s old set out of a dumpster: “More details on that in the coming weeks, the lawyers are sorting that out”
  • In the second episode, a caller told a story about how he had to get stitches as a result of his Minesweeper obsession. Chris’ response: “I bet the creators of minesweeper have never felt cooler”
  • Chris to Shannon: “I hate you. You’re my best friend, but I hate you.”
  • “The emotional manipulation is through the roof!”
  • Chris, on Charles Manson: “I wouldn’t think so, that’s a well known serial killer”
  • A note on watching this on my chromecast: YouTube is definitely the best app to use with chromecast that I’ve tried so far, you can create a playlist while you’re watching, so you don’t have to spend five minutes queuing up the next thing you want to watch.
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