Credit: Andrew Bisdale/truTV

The Chris Gethard Show

How to best describe The Chris Gethard Show, the wonderfully bizarre television experiment that airs live and has no rules?

“The sentence I wind up saying most often is: ‘It’s a talk show where the host has no control over what’s happening,'” said Chris Gethard. “I think the show is at its best when I’m on my heels and all authority and respect have been taken away from me.”

Unlike most talk shows where glossed guests cross their legs on a couch for a 2-and-a-half minute segment, Gethard invites his guests to become co-conspirators — or full-on adversaries.

“We tell all of our guests that we’re a live show, we really like when things go off the rail, and there’s a really broad range of people who take us seriously on that,” Gethard said. “Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas are absolutely the two that take that ball and run with it the most. There are two episode where they’ve appeared, and they’ve absolutely steamrolled me; you don’t really see a status battle erupt on live TV between the hosts and the guests too often. Last season ended with Paul and Jason taking the entire studio audience out on the street, against my will — legitimately against my will — and the episode ended with an image of me just sitting sadly alone in the studio while a gigantic tortoise ate lettuce next to me. I tell ya, that’s kind of been my lifelong dream of what television should be.”

Tomorrow, the season kicks off with Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson. Sasheer Zamata and Nicole Byer will be appearing on March 27, and on April 3, the guest will be Will Ferrell.

One guest we probably won’t see anytime soon: David Letterman. “I still have this burning desire in my gut to convince David Letterman to come on the show. We’ve tried so many times, and it’s been smacked down really hard every time,” said Gethard.

Gethard cites Letterman and Conan O’Brien as key influences in being able to create such a unique show. “Getting those two guys on would mean a lot to me, because I think there’s a very clear lineage of weird talk shows that try to be renegade,” he said. “It is funny: I have this fantasy that they’ll come on and be like, ‘You took what we did, and you boiled it down, and you made it live, and it’s just all the chaos and none of the rules!’ That’s the dream outcome. But then I have a nightmare that they’ll come on and be like, ‘What is this, and why am I wasting my time on this?’ and I’ll just be a sad, heartbroken little man on TV, while everyone watches my heroes express their disappointment in me,”

The Chris Gethard Show airs live Tuesdays at 11 p.m. ET on truTV.

The Chris Gethard Show
  • TV Show