After about 10 years and airing on public access TV and two cable networks, Chris Gethard has decided to end The Chris Gethard Show. The comedian posted a lengthy missive on his Facebook page today letting people know that he and truTV have come to a mutual decision to end the show.
Gethard stated that he and the truTV brass mutually came to the decision after a meeting about the show’s future, stating the conversation went something like this, “‘We’re getting the sense from your final speech, and from some of our behind the scenes conversations, that you might be done with this project.’ I told them they were right.” Add that onto some soft ratings, Gethard felt that if he were to continue the show, it wouldn’t be uniquely his vision since truTV would more than likely want to make changes in an effort to boost ratings. But Gethard was super proud of the crew that put the show together and his comedian friends that have grown from their involvement on a show that started off on public access television, went to one cable channel (kinda), then aired on another, then migrated over to a third, truTV a few months back.
There was some weirdness along the way but in general Gethard stated that he’s grown and it’s time to close that chapter of his life, “I’m different. The show isn’t. It’s time to see what’s next.”
Here’s the full (lengthy) statement from Gethard.
The Chris Gethard Show is dead.
Long live The Chris Gethard Show.
It’s official! The Chris Gethard Show is canceled. Kaput. No more!
I write this with a strange mix of emotions: sadness, worry, uncertainty, but also pride, excitement, and relief.
TCGS has been the defining aspect of my life since 2009. I met my wife through the show. I’ve met my best friends through the show. My career has grown and solidified all because of the work I’ve put into the show, the reputation I’ve built through it, and the things I’ve proved I’m capable of via it.
It is not easy to say goodbye.
But some executives from truTV sat me down a few weeks after this most recent batch of episodes and said, “We’re getting the sense from your final speech, and from some of our behind the scenes conversations, that you might be done with this project.”
I told them they were right.
So, it’s a mutual decision. We were after all, the lowest rated show on the network, something that I take no small amount of pride in. Anyone who knows me knows – if I’m not going to be number one, I see no sense in being number four, or number six. Let’s live on the extremes, either way. Point being, though, that it’s not like they were clamoring to have it back without changes. It was a fair and necessary conversation.
And before I move any further, let me say that I’ve been told that a number of people at truTV actually put in some impassioned pleas for TCGS, saying that they didn’t give a shit about the numbers because there was something special about our show. To those people, I say thank you for having our backs, for seeing something in us, and for fighting the good fight!
So with my hesitation to continue and truTV’s need for numbers improvement, it’s time to throw in the towel.
I have so many thoughts.
First off – we’re all going to be fine. I see so many people who have worked on TCGS already going on to great things. Actors who played idiotic characters on our public access show pop up all the time on tv. I’m insanely proud that our writers’ room has employed people who have since gone on to write for SNL, Fallon, HBO, Comedy Central, Netflix, who have sold movies, who have made moves, who are going to be fine. This is not to mention the so many people on the production end who cut their teeth and learned how to be professionals with us, who are also spreading far and wide. I feel like moving forward there will be a strong TCGS family tree, a lineage, that I will always be insanely proud of.
Secondly – if we moved forward, I don’t know that the episodes would have been totally ours anymore, and I know for a fact our dedicated fans would not want that. There’s no way around it – despite how proud I am of every episode we’ve done, it wasn’t getting numbers. I don’t know why. We were always a little too weird, or a little too ahead of our time. On top of that, people don’t watch hour long things on TV anymore. I’m not quite certain, honestly. I tried so hard to get tons of eyes on it. If I could have cracked that code things would have been different, but I couldn’t.
And look, if you don’t have numbers, things have to change. That’s how it goes with commercial tv, right? So the longer the show went on, the more peoples’ opinions were getting involved in it. That’s the nature of the beast. But the push and pull of so many producers, writers, and development executives trying to find the right formula was going to at some point make it hit a tipping point where it would no longer be The Chris Gethard Show. I am not trying to throw this process or any of the people involved under the bus, far from it. At the end of the day, I am the only one to blame for not being able to figure out how to get this thing that lived in my heart and head out there in a way that was able to get us the numbers that would have earned more freedom and breathing room.
I won’t tell you all the behind the scenes things that happened – I’ll leave that to the oral historians and documentarians of the future who will inevitably remind people that we were an undiscovered gem that was ahead of our time. I will tell you the following eye-opening story though –
After our first episode of the most recent batch, there was a lot of discussion about what direction the show should head in. This ultimately lead to some tension. This tension got to me in a real bad way. I tried to flag it for people, but it was too late. Around 4:30 in the afternoon of our second of the ten episodes I had a full on panic attack. I’m talking full “curled up in the fetal position on the floor in my office with a couch cushion on me” level. It wasn’t pleasant. I hosted our episode featuring my old pal Cipha Sounds a few short hours later. It was terrifying.
That was when it started to dawn on me that this project had taken some turns where the pressure was at times outweighing the fun – and this show is too important to me to ever let that be the case. This season was really, really hard. It was tough on my health at times, and I saw it getting tough on the health of some of my long time collaborators as well. There was a stretch where things brightened and I started to think maybe we could keep going. At that point, Hallie stepped in as my wife and reminded me – health has to come first.
Career Suicide was all about that and it made me realize that I had to heed some of my own advice from that special.
Speaking of Career Suicide… and Beautiful/Anonymous – I’ve been thinking a lot about how my more recent work is of a very different tone than TCGS. It’s a little slower and calmer and reflective of the fact that I’m now pushing 40. It’s been really interesting – in the past few weeks I’ve been listening to a TON of Howard Stern, who I have only touched base with occasionally in recent years. I go through stretches where I touch base with the old heroes, and found myself wondering why I’ve latched on to Howard to help get me through this.
And I realized – Howard has evolved. So many times, over and over again, he has evolved. He doesn’t throw baloney at naked people anymore. He’s a thoughtful interviewer and cultural commentator. It’s a beautiful evolution to witness, an inspiring one.
I think as an artist, I’ve been evolving too.
But The Chris Gethard Show has not. I’ll be honest and say that when caught in debates with various parties about the best way for an episode to go off, I often found myself thinking things like, “Why are we in a fight about the best way for me to get throw into a dunk tank full of ice water? I’m 38 years old.” I would have fought tooth and nail to do a bit like that my way five years ago. Now? It doesn’t feel like the fights we/I should be having.
Maybe, just maybe, TCGS hit a ceiling where it couldn’t change beyond what it’s always been. Maybe commercial television is more about capturing something reliable than fostering on-screen evolution. Maybe on some level my work is becoming smaller, and more about intimacy, and focused a little more on me personally than on being the leader of a band of people. I don’t know. Probably some combination of all of these factors has lead to the show reaching its limit. But it’s there, and I’d much rather recognize that than hide from it and try to trick anyone into thinking future episodes would have the same heart, spark, and fight in them. It was going to burn out at some point, and I’d like to end it before it does.
The show is the show and it isn’t changing anymore. We could all feel it on the inside. Part of the exhilaration, fun, and uniqueness of this show is always that it reflected us, the people making it.
When the show first took off on public access, I was a guy who lived in Brooklyn, stayed out dancing four nights a week, went to punk shows all the time, became single and had romantic flings, and also often freaked out and had panic attacks and lapses where I messed around with drugs.
Now I’m 38. I live in Queens. I’m married to the coolest girl in the world. I go home early. I’m tired a lot. I don’t really have spikes in my mental health issues, knock on wood. My main hobby lately has been going on real estate websites. It brings me great joy. I’m not planning on buying a house. I just find it fun to see what’s out there on the market.
I’m different. The show isn’t. It’s time to see what’s next.
So that’s where we’re at. I am so excited to see what everyone who was a part of this show makes moving forward. They’re battle tested badasses, from the people you saw on screen to the people working their way in on the production side of things. I have a feeling that big things will happen in the world of comedy and you’ll see familiar faces and names attached to them. We learned on our feet, but now we know how to do it. I will reiterate something I’ve said before – if you are in the comedy business, hire these people. They are warriors who get shit done.
I have no idea what I’m going to do next. It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to say that. It’s terrifying and exciting and what being an artist is really about. I can’t wait.
Huge, huge, massive thanks to every single person who gave their time and energy into working on this show. It changed my life. Literally every person who worked on it is someone I owe my life to.
And obviously, a huge specific shoutout to J.D. Amato. He killed himself for this thing harder than I did at many points, and his name isn’t even on it. He is a genius, a badass, and most importantly a friend to a degree that I hope everyone getes to experience once in their lifetime. J.D, I owe you everything.
Some of the greatest memories I have involve this show. Sitting on my back porch with Noah and Dru coming up with the dumbest ideas ever. Hiring people I loved from the comedy world, giving them their first gigs. Going to that public access studio and laughing so hard, meeting people who didn’t know what they were doing but wanted to learn and growing up together on screen while throngs of nerds watched. Taking the show on the road and meeting the people who watch it face to face. Such beautiful times. I’ve been able to live such beautiful times.
And this needs to be said most of all –
Thank you for watching. You watched and supported a bunch of train wreck people with a not good show because you all saw what was in it. You saw the heart. You saw the brains. Way before anyone in the entertainment industry saw it, you all watched and called and supported and saw it. You made me believe in it, and myself, and the world. That’s not an exaggeration at all.
I don’t buy into the system. That’s because of the people who watched this show, saw a flame I was trying to light, and threw gasoline on it with their support, and even moreso, their relentless kindness as a community. In one of my life’s greatest moments of need, the rabble rousing, trouble making, norm rejecting underground kids of this world came to my aid via their viewership and support. I am blessed.
Thanks to Comedy Central for buying our pilot. Thanks to Fusion for keeping us alive. Thanks to truTV for giving us a national platform, letting it be an hour, letting it be live, and taking so many huge chances on us. While I didn’t get the numbers, I hope I at least made you guys look cool artistically.
And look, when all is said and done, I’ll give you this glimpse behind the curtain. We did 47 episodes on cable – no small feat. Each one went through a rigorous process of writing, vetting, editing, etc.
There is exactly ONE episode where we begged our network to PLEASE let us just do it our way with no notes. ONE where we kicked and screamed to just do it our way. (I often wonder where the show would be at if I kicked and screamed and demanded it my way more. But I don’t want to become a person I don’t like just for a project, even (maybe especially) this one.)
There was ONE like that.
And it was the Dumpster.
And a lot of people say it’s one of the greatest hours of television ever.
I’ll take that.
We probably failed as often as we succeeded, even on our biggest platforms. I’m ok with that. We failed with integrity. I think we managed to go this distance without truly selling out more than we had to. We were never fully domesticated.
I think a lot of our fans were shocked we finally got picked up to cable. And now it’s been a 47 episode victory lap of something beautiful. I am so, so lucky to have been the captain of this ship.
And honestly? My life rules these days. I am happy now. I am fulfilled now. If you watched our show’s earliest days you’ll know those things were NOT true in 2009, or 2011. I was filled with insecurity, doubt, torment, and demons. The chip on my shoulder could have filled the Grand Canyon.
These days, my life isn’t perfect, but it’s better than I thought it’d ever be.
So many people over the years have told me that they watched the show when they were in a bad place, and that they stopped watching when their lives got better.
I think at long last, I’m finally there too.
With endless gratitude, sincerity, and love,