Hurricane Sandy's no joke. But that's not to say New Yorkers have lost their taste for a good laugh. Especially on election night. TV-party animal Chris Gethard—improv master, teacher at Upright Citizens Brigade, and host of MNN’s The Chris Gethard Show—can deliver just that when he hosts a special marathon edition on MNN November 6, making history with the network’s longest-ever continuous broadcast. Here’s his take on arbitrary records, the creative process, and his dream candidate, Leslie Knope.
What’s your take on the presidential race so far?
I’m very much a New Yorker, and I very much know how I’m going vote. So I watch debates more as a comedian than anything else. Romney said we have less ships than we used to, and Obama was like, we also have less horses and bayonets. Like, we have these things called aircraft carriers? Have you heard of them? I don’t think you can argue that Obama is the funnier candidate.
You recently launched a campaign of your own: to get offered a role in an upcoming Alf movie. How’s your campaign going?
Well I’ve put out a number of videos saying I want a part in the announced Alf movie, and there’s been a lot of fan art Photoshopping pictures of me with Alf, but we haven’t really heard from Sony Pictures. I’m assuming that since there’s no script or director yet—they have absolutely none of the infrastructure in place—they must not be casting yet and that’s why I haven’t heard from them. My video doesn’t demonstrate any level of acting, but it does show my enthusiasm. They won’t be able to deny that.
You’re hosting an Election Night special on MNN November 6. What can viewers expect from your show?
We’re broadcasting from noon to midnight and we’ll have call-in themes, musical guests, and comedians who are already part of our show coming in. We’ll be the most loose and lighthearted way to take in the election. We’ll be trying our best to spread the word, but you can also get a laugh out of what can be a tense night. I’m also excited about our own Connor Ratcliff, who’s been running for president for well over a year. His whole platform is that he’s 35 years old—that’s how old the Constitution says you need to be to run. He’s very nervous to see how he may do with the electoral votes.
To be clear: Is he actually on the ballots?
Well, no, I’m not sure he’s registered. A small handful of states have very loose write-in laws, where you can write in anyone’s name on the ballot. So we’re hoping he does some damage there.
How has your comedy career prepared you for your role as Election Night host? Well I started as an improviser at Upright Citizens Brigade, which many people regard as best place to learn improv. When you’re putting out 12 hours of content, rolling with the punches is a very valuable skill. I’ve been told this will be the longest continuous broadcast in MNN history. I like arbitrary records.
How can your fans participate in your show on election night?
There will be a ton of call in stuff, and we always love staging stuff through the Internet. People can check in on thechrisgethardshow.com. Plus MNN streams online, so I think there’s a high chance of participation. It should feel like a long party.
If you could elect anyone as POTUS, who would it be?
Well my initial thought is John Starks, who played for the Knicks in the ‘90s. He’s not qualified to be president, but he’s got a lot of hustle and grit, so I trust him. If we’re going with a fictional character, I would have to say Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation, played by one of my mentors, Amy Poehler. Leslie might be the most trusted politician in America right now.
Why is MNN an important resource for New Yorkers?
I’m insanely impressed with how supportive MNN is with creative process. I’ve been doing comedy for 12 years, and I’ve found that it’s amazingly hard to find stages, publications or any venue that will say, “Go for it” and let you put it in your own voice. MNN at their core is about letting people make shows without interference. I think it’s the most punk-rock organization in the world. If you’re willing to work hard, you can do almost anything you want on their airwaves, and that’s commendable and rare.
How has MNN touched your life?
MNN has touched my life in massive ways—bigger than I ever anticipated. Right before I signed up with MNN, I did a sitcom on Comedy Central that did not turn out well. It was a difficult experience.. As lead actor, I took the hit even though I didn’t have anything to do with it creatively. It was the traditional entertainment industry, and it was confusing and overwhelming. Honestly, I felt tossed to the wolves. MNN is the inverse of that. It’s small-scale and low-budget, and the product is about the work you put into it. And MNN is progressive about using the Internet—with the streaming service you can watch all their programming online. We’ve had a great experience watching our show spread all over the world. We get calls from people in Sweden, Australia, we’ve gotten emails from China and Abu Dhabi, and I just got an email from a girl in Panama. With MNN, all the power is in your hands to succeed or to fail.
Join Chris Gethard and MNN for The Chris Gethard Show’s election coverage on Tuesday, Nov. 6, from noon to midnight on MNN4 and MNN.org.