Widgets Magazine

Comedian Hardwick performs, identifies with Nerd Nation

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Chris Hardwick came to campus last week as part of Cardinal Nights programming and showed a disbelieving audience member that he could recite the first 150 digits of pi. (Courtesy of Chris Hardwick)

Four hundred students attended a Chris Hardwick comedy show, sponsored by Cardinal Nights and the Stanford Speakers Bureau, at Cemex Auditorium on Friday night.

The show consisted mostly of observational comedy about Hardwick’s personal relationships with college friends, girlfriends and family, but also included audience interaction. Following the open event was a closed meet-and-greet for organizers.

The @midnight host ventured into the first few rows in between stand-up vignettes to ask attendees what “they do.” After several engineering majors and pre-med students responded, Hardwick mocked the responses: “I’m an engineer. I’m a doctor. I invented electricity!”

The audience did not intimidate Hardwick, a self-proclaimed “nerdist,” who proceeded to prove to a disbelieving audience member that he could recite the first 150 digits of pi.

“You guys have been awesome,” Hardwick said as he wrapped up the act and began a marginally more serious Q&A session. “Not all college audiences are like this,” he said, noting that this show had more engineers than any other at which he had performed.

Ralph Castro, director of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE), said the comedian did not inform the planning team of the Q&A.

“He’s got so much experience in different areas, he’s got so many different projects going on,” Castro said. “I thought that was really cool that he took questions and then was able to get questions from the students about standup comedy.”

Members of Stand Up, D, Stanford’s comedy club, took the opportunity during the Q&A to ask Hardwick for advice about his craft.

“It can be unrewarding for a while but if you keep doing it you’re going to get better,” he said, later mentioning how comedy during his college experience changed his life.

Part of what made the Q&A effective was the intimate setting that allowed even students sitting in the back to have their questions answered.

“A lot of comedians like to interact with the audience, and Cemex gave us that more personal feel to be able to do that than, say, a bigger place like Memorial Auditorium,” Castro said.

A tradeoff to holding the event in such a small space, however, was that students who did not reserve their tickets fast enough — in this case, within 40 minutes — were put on a waiting list. However, since about 150 of the 550 ticket holders were no-shows, all 50 waitlisted students who lined up were able to get in.

Being at the end of the waiting list line did not scare away David Zimmerman ’17, who judged that hastily bought free tickets would probably not all be claimed and thus would open up the show to the waitlisted students.

“I thought I’d be able to get in just because I gauged the psychology of the waitlist,” he said. “They said get here until 9:55 [p.m.]. So I figured a lot of people wouldn’t bother, and I was right.”

Castro said that the attrition of attendees is common for high profile events like this one.

While Hardwick might be the only well-known standup comedian this year, Castro confirmed that OAPE plans to have comedians return to Cardinal Nights events in the future.

Contact Tristan Vanech at tvanech ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Tristan Vanech

Tristan Vanech is a sports managing editor and former news desk editor on the campus life beat. A Symbolic Systems major from Venice, CA, Tristan loves playing basketball and football. His most notable accomplishment at The Daily is leading its flag football team as quarterback to break a three-year drought in the annual Ink Bowl against the Daily Cal. Ball is life. Email him at tvanech@stanford.edu.
  • Jamie

    Hardwick was awesome!