The Self-Made Man: Chris Gethard
A lot of the Self Made Men we’ve talked about lately had plans to start their own businesses right from the get-go. They are people with natural gifts towards programming, design, and other modern white-collar skills who were able to develop them through making contacts, following through on opportunities, and working hard.
Some other self-starters never planned to be, though. A good amount of people strike out on their own because circumstances force them to, not because they were future moguls from birth. Comedian, writer, and actor Chris Gethard is one of those guys, and is currently turning his comedic talents (and by extension, himself) into a brand.
Born in New Jersey, Chris moved to New York to pursue comedy, getting involved with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater, making videos with CollegeHumor.com, doing improv all over the place, and doing whatever else it took to build up and name and, hopefully, some TV and movie credits.
That’s how the game used to work, after all. If you were a comedian, your goal was to get a good reputation working clubs, then work late night chat shows, then get a sitcom or some movies. Chris did all that, and his big break was (and I really do apologize for rhyming here), Big Lake, a sitcom for Comedy Central that Will Ferrell was producing, and that starred Horatio Sanz and Chris Parnell alongside Gethard.
Unfortunately, the sitcom didn’t pan out, and Gethard wasn’t getting any more offers for that kind of TV work. So what do you do when that happens? Gethard is unique among TSB’s Self Made Men in that he didn’t grab the brass ring he’d been reaching for, and there weren’t any venture capitalists or corporate buyouts to cushion his fall.
However, Chris certainly has that entrepreneurial spirit, and wasn’t about to give up this thing to which he’d now dedicated most of his adult life. In addition to writing books and staying involved with the New York improv scene and UCB, Chris started doing his own cable access show, The Chris Gethard Show, which is a weird talk/sketch/variety show hybrid with a regular panel of weird characters and guests. He also takes calls on the show, and people call in from all over the place (the show broadcasts online as well as on public access TV) to ask bizarre and often hilarious questions.
Chris’ show is so unpretentious and fun—it was intended as a throwback to classic low-budget variety shows like The Uncle Floyd Show—and the fan community that built up around is so genuine that it has resuscitated his career. More importantly, it revealed what a fighter Chris Gethard is; his original dream may have failed, but he picked himself right back up and kept on going.
To give you a better idea of what his show is like, here’s my favorite episode so far: the “Culture” episode, featuring fellow TSB Self Made Man Colt Cabana.
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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.