NEW YORK – There’s no media entity more pleased to be called an empire than Nerdist, the online factory of earnest pop culture enthusiasm.
This is largely because in the Nerdist universe, “Star Wars” is gospel. The kind of fandom those films have inspired is in many ways Nerdist’s model of engagement. It would probably cheer Nerdist creator Chris Hardwick, a comedian and TV personality turned Internet entrepreneur, if this story began in words that drifted dramatically away into space.
The force, you might say, is strong with Nerdist.
“Nerdist stuff is really just the purest expression of fanboy-ism,” said Hardwick. “And it’s not engineered. We are that way.”
The unabashed sincerity of Hardwick and Nerdist has proved infectious. Nerdist began in 2010 as a little weekly comedy podcast made by Hardwick. It has grown to encompass a network of 21 podcasts, 27 YouTube shows and a growing TV presence.
BBC America, which has partnered with Nerdist for a number of specials, has picked up “The Nerdist,” a variety talk show hosted by Hardwick, for 10 60-minute episodes to premiere in the spring. Hardwick has been a kind of cultural ambassador for BBC America in championing the series “Doctor Who.”
The YouTube channel was launched with funding from the Google in a partnership with Jim Henson Co. and Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video. Its shows include “All-Star Celebrity Bowling,” in which TV show casts bowl against the Nerdist clan (given that father was a pro bowler, Hardwick has skills); “Face to Face” with Weird Al Yankovic, a parody celebrity interview show; and “Star Talk” with astrophysicist Neil deGrass Tyson.