Back in December, Chris Gethard announced that his public access show The Chris Gethard Show is making the move to cable, and now we know its new home. In an announcement during last night’s show, Gethard revealed that Fusion has ordered ten episodes of TCGS, which will debut on the network sometime in April. Ahead of the official announcement, I spoke with Gethard about why he’s excited to bring TCGS to Fusion, what we can expect from the show, and what he hopes to bring to the table aside from a big chip on his shoulder.
Congratulations on the move to Fusion! Is there a premiere date yet?
We don’t have an exact premiere date yet. It looks like it’s going down sometime in the spring – it’s looking like things will kick off around April. They’re thinking of having a few best-ofs on the network before that where they run some of the best episodes from our public access years, so we’ll have a presence on the network before that. There are ten episodes coming in April, and we’re all really motivated to get out there and kind of fall on our face and see if people might enjoy it.
Why did you end up going with Fusion?
Well, we had a lot of meetings over the past year with a lot of networks, many of whom were just straight up like “This is too bizarre for us.” There were a bunch that were like “Hey can you change it this way or that way?” To honor the show though, I’d kind of rather not do it than change it too drastically. We sat down with Fusion, and right away I got the sense that those guys are really cool. In our pitch meeting they were kind of laughing when I was describing a lot of the stuff we’ve done, and then they were like “Yeah, we think we know how to help you cause even more trouble.” As soon as I heard that I knew we were kindred spirits.
These guys are really thinking differently than everybody else – I think they might have a similar chip on their shoulder as I do as far as wanting to get out there and do things in a different way, so it’s really encouraging. I had a call with one of their development guys the other day, and I was talking about Paul F. Tompkins’s show No, You Shut Up! which is Paul and a bunch of puppets, and that show’s really weird and I was like “I can’t believe we’re joining a network where we might not even be the weirdest show.” He just paused and was like “Take that as a challenge” and I’m like, I hope he knows what he’s getting into when he says that.
I like the idea of a challenge between you and Paul F. Tompkins. Who can be the weirdest?
Yeah, I mean, I haven’t spoken to Paul about it – I’ve met him a bunch of times and I think he’s a really nice guy – but if we get into a weird Cold War-type arms race about who can be more bizarre, I think it’ll either end really well or really poorly for both of us. If this network involvement turns into a quiet, brooding war between myself and Paul F. Tompkins, I would like to think I can win that war. And if he reads that here, I hope that we become mortal enemies.
Hopefully I can help make that happen! So what are the main differences between the public access version and the Fusion version of TCGS?
The main difference is that the show will be a half hour long instead of an hour, so there are some structural changes that are going to come along with that. But as far as the content goes, they really haven’t asked us to push it or pull it in any specific direction, which was a real fear of ours. And one of the cool things is that Fusion is really insanely progressive about how they think about the internet and how it matches up with TV and a viewer’s TV. The show will not be live on the network, but they’re allowing us to make the tapings accessible online so you’ll actually be able to attend the taping even if you don’t live in New York – you’ll be able to experience it, and that allows for all the interactivity – you can Skype in, you can call in, and we’re working to make it a thing where if you want to get involved in the show there will be many, many steps down that rabbit hole we provide for you. So it’ll have a live element and it’ll have a lot of interactivity. I’m really blown away by Fusion in that respect, because not many networks are thinking that way and that makes me very excited that they have ideas like that.
That reminds me a little of what @midnight is doing with their internet casting call. Are you excited to experiment with that and potentially get people on TV who normally wouldn’t get that opportunity?
Yeah, 100%. I mean, the second episode of our public access show, a girl called and said she was confused by the show, and we invited her to join the cast, which she did. So just this idea that TV is not this one-sided experience – I really am obsessed with that, and I love the idea of keeping it small so we can not be precious about it. I want it to feel like the people who like it know that they can have a massive effect on it – and because of the internet, they can. It’s not a marketing thing, it’s not a ploy, it’s not buzzwords, it’s just that the fact of the matter is with our show, if you like it and you want to be a part of it, we’ll let you be a part of it. We once let a kid host the show from this Cornell library on Skype and just treated that like it was the fourth camera in our studio that night. So it’s just something I’m obsessed with – who are the similar kids like that out there, and how can I connect with them? And a lot of that is just because I think I’m kind of a lonely and restless person who craves human connection. [laughs] And I don’t want TV to be a thing that separates me from people and makes me a “celebrity” – I want to connect with people who have similar feelings and values that I do.
So it sounds like Fusion is giving you a ton of freedom.
I think so. I don’t want to let any cats out of the bags, but we’ve had a lot of conversations where they’re the ones bringing up ideas where I’m going like “Whoa…we can do that?” I kind of feel like I’m the one who should be saying things that are making them uncomfortable, but they’re really open to my ideas and are like “Well why don’t we take it even further?” I’m realizing that it’s not lip service or a situation where we have to go into it fighting them to do stuff – they’re leading the charge on it. It could be a huge success, it could totally go down in flames – either way, I think it’ll be pretty interesting to watch.
After shopping TCGS around to other networks, it must feel like a big relief to end up at a network like that.
It is, it’s an inspiring thing. I’m ready to get out there, and I’m also ready to have a chip on my shoulder. I don’t know if it’ll blow up and explode, but if it doesn’t, at the very least we’re onto some cool stuff, and if you give us a budget to do it the right way we’ll show you that it’s legit. I really do have a chip on my shoulder and I want to prove them right – I want to prove other people wrong. [laughs] I want to go out and get it, I want to make it happen – I have an angry side, and it’s really motivating me to get out there and turn it into something positive and something creative.
Well, congratulations again. It’s well deserved.
Thank you so much, and thank you always for your support of the show. I’m not mad at you that you outed us on the Smith thing – I understand it was necessary. Oh, also, here’s an announcement I haven’t talked about yet to anyone else: Brett Davis is going to take over our public access show slot. So we’re not just walking away from that, we’re making sure it becomes another opportunity for a comedian who I think is doing really inventive stuff.
Oh, interesting! I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone with the Smith news, by the way.
Oh no, we didn’t think anybody was gonna buy it! We thought Brett was just going to do all characters, but he handled it really seriously. I was actually more terrified of people thinking it was real. When he came into the studio that night, I could feel that everyone in the room was buying it, and my immediate instinct was like “Oh no…no one knows.” I messed with you over outing us, but I was actually really grateful because I was kind of terrified! [laughs] It was really intense that everyone was buying it, which was never the intent – we just wanted to put on a comedy show. He’s putting on so many cool, weird shows in the city now – it’s gonna turn a lot of people’s heads when they realize he’s building this whole scene. It’s really cool.