Jordin Althaus/AMC


The Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick is proud of his geeky side and wants you to be proud of yours too.

Chris Hardwick champions nerds. No longer the cliché of socially awkward people sporting ill-fitting clothes, glasses and pocket protectors, “nerds” in our modern, Big Bang Theory world are stylish, sociable and successful. Geeks are the new power players, and Hardwick is among the elite.

Not that he’s an elitist. Hardwick is a funny, amiable guy who simply loves sharing his passion for computers, video games and pop culture with the world. He is a handsome and relatable stand-up comedian, author and partner in growing multimedia company Nerdist Industries, which he and business partner Peter Levin sold to Legendary Entertainment last July (though they still run its day-to-day operations).

On his Walking Dead wrap-up show The Talking Dead, which airs immediately following each new episode of the AMC zombie hit, Hardwick handles his subject matter with both humor and reverence as he analyzes the characters, situations and emotions that drive the highly acclaimed, post-apocalyptic series. It’s not just about flesh-rending for him and his guests, who have included Sarah Silverman, Dave Navarro and Kevin Smith. They go deeper in their discussions.

“Not every show can really have an aftershow,” notes Hardwick of The Talking Dead, which expands to an hourlong format when it returns this month. “But a show like The Walking Dead has so much going on and is so dense with drama. We’re like community therapy for that show in a lighthearted way, helping people deal with it. That’s what’s fun about it.”

Hardwick’s role on the show dovetails with the personal mission that crosses all of the media formats he explores. The former Singled Out co-host and current Nerdist podcaster lets his geek flag fly through funny, insightful commentary as he strives to challenge and change mainstream perceptions about nerd culture, particularly from some media entities that handsomely profit from it while simultaneously stereotyping it with an outsider’s vision.

“In trying to exploit it, they are almost genetically predisposed to want to make fun of it: ‘Look at those dorks,’ ” Hardwick says. “That’s not how it should be represented. I feel like we have the responsibility to say, ‘Hey, it’s not weird that you want to dress up like Night Owl.’ Or, ‘It’s not weird that you play D&D or that you build crafts.’ I feel like there’s so much cynicism in the world that I wanted to be positive.”