It didn’t matter that I forgot to bring a notebook to The Chris Gethard Show; I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway. Last night, the series that bills itself as “the most bizarre and often saddest talk show in New York City” got crazy even by those standards. With teenage Internet hip-hop sensation Kitty Pryde scheduled to perform a few songs and none other than party expert Andrew WK on board to share hosting duties with Chris Gethard, the comedian and recent IFC “adoptee” who’s helmed the weekly public access show since June of 2011, the episode had been dubbed “The Ultimate Public Access Party.” And despite frequent reminders that said party would have to be accomplished without the aid of food, drink, or copyrighted music, I’m fairly sure the Manhattan Neighborhood Network studios, way out at the western extreme of 59th Street, had never seen a shindig quite like it before.
Gethard had encouraged his loyal, unabashedly geeky fans to dress up for the occasion, so the scene on set suggested what might happen if a group of 50 or 60 sci-fi convention attendees decided to cosplay a dream sequence from a Fellini film. Along with men and women dressed as nosebleed-period Andrew WK, there was a gnome, a chicken, a Gumby, a load of Hawaiian-shirted guys presumably dressed as tourists, and even a Minnie Mouse. Costumes are hardly a rarity on The Chris Gethard Show, which features recurring characters with names like Bananaman and The Human Fish, but this episode annihilated the already blurry line between audience members and participants by making everyone in goofy garb a star.
To further ensure that everyone in the studio became part of the party, Gethard got rid of the chairs where fans usually sit to watch a taping. We had to stay on our feet for the entire hour, as he and Andrew WK led us in a series of wacky games written on sappy birthday cards that were chosen — by envelope color — by the show’s many callers (who mostly regaled us with often depressing — yet very funny — stories of their own party mishaps). Audience members were blindfolded and had to try and pin the tail on a human donkey. WK led a few brave souls (including Flavorpill’s own Sophie Weiner, who also served as Kitty Pryde’s DJ for the evening) in crowdsurfing. And the bravest among us (i.e., not your writer) stripped to the waist to switch shirts with a stranger. Those who aren’t familiar with Gethard may not completely grasp why he and WK make so much sense together, but what they have in common is relentless positivity and an openhearted attitude that welcomes all fans, no matter how weird. (If you haven’t already seen it, you’ll want to read Gethard’s lengthy, deeply personal letter to a fan who was considering suicide.)
As for Kitty Pryde, who I’ve enjoyed in the past, she seemed a bit overwhelmed by the scene — and the presence of Andrew WK. But, despite claiming the performance was her second-worst mistake of all time (she wouldn’t divulge any details about what made #1), she got into the place’s bizarre rhythm soon enough, serenading Gethard with “OK Cupid” and getting the audience on her side for “Orion’s Belt.” By the end of the evening, both performances over, she had proclaimed, “I want to party!” and taken her place among the co-hosts to roll with whatever strange stunt was coming next. No different from any other Chris Gethard Show newcomer, she’d started off the hour hopelessly confused but ended up part of the gang.
Click through for a gallery of — totally crazy — photos from last night’s Chris Gethard Show and visit the show’s Blip.tv page beginning Friday night to watch the full episode.
Chris Gethard and Andrew WK. Photo credit: Sean Ruch