For five years, the public-access-turned-Fusion-turned-truTV show The Chris Gethard Show held a special place in my heart. Its zany ideas were always reliable for a laugh. Its cast, crew, and fans provided a tight-knit community for those in need of a few people to count on. And its often moments of tender guidance provided a haven for those in need of one.
However, the show was around for much longer before I started watching. It began as a stage show at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade in 2009 before moving to public access in 2011. From there it took off gaining ground and becoming a national comedy powerhouse. But it came to an end just this past week, when Chris Gethard himself and the execs at truTV made the united decision to pull the plug.
Now the show, in all of its editions, had its fair share of fantastic musical guests, thanks in many regards to Kiri Oliver, Heidi Vanderlee, and Zane Van Dusen, the show’s long-time music bookers. Caffeinated Jam would like to recognize their efforts and eulogize the show by listing its “Top 7” musical acts to appear on The Chris Gethard Show. As with all Top 5 (or Top 7) lists that appear on this site, this list does not condone favoritism; these acts just happen to come to mind first.
1. Fucked Up (MNN Episode 97, “True or False”)
Most musical acts during the public access years of the show got two songs; one in the middle of the show, and one towards the end. However, the “True or False” game that Chris had devised for this episode wasn’t working out, and Fucked Up had torn it up during their first song, so they got to close out the show with a second and then a rare third song. Damian threw himself into the crowd and got Chris and Alex (aka Messenger Bag) up surfing high atop the masses. This performance summed up the spirit of TCGS: When everything goes wrong, make a party out of it and go out blazing.
2. The Dolchnakov Brigade (MNN Episode 8, “The Kickboxing Episode”, and MNN Episode 50, “The One Year Anniversary Episode”)
People say that The Chris Gethard Show could be a cult. However, I’m convinced that The Dolchnakov Brigade actually is one. They pass off as a Russian synth-pop group singing about random ideas as if they were a matter of life and death, a philosophy which they call “palevish.” (That sums up the show in a nutshell as well, to be honest.) To see them singing on TCGS, you’d think that they’d hypnotized the audience and put them into a robotic trance. Honestly, when I first watched this episode, I almost believed it myself.
3. Bad Credit No Credit (Episode 42, “The Hintmaster Show”)
This episode was a wild one: Chris, locked in a cage, found himself at the mercy of a dictatorial man in a tracksuit who called himself “The Hintmaster”. The saving grace of the episode was Carrie Anne Murphy rushing headlong into a mosh pit while her horn-blowing bamdmates made the roof fly off of the MNN studios. It was a performance that got the otherwise-downtrodden crowd that night up on their feet with all the energy that they could muster. Luckily, the Hintmaster was removed from his post as host at the end of the episode, much to everyone’s celebration.
4. Ted Leo (Episode 35, “Chrckin’ In Eith Alyssa”)
Ted Leo is another one of the rare musical guests on TCGS to get three songs, but that’s because of the nature of the episode on which he performed. In the show’s early days, a young comedy superfan named Alyssa Stonoha — now a comedian and TV writer in her own right — was a regular caller into the public access studio. About half a year into the show’s MNN run, Chris invited her onto the show, getting all of her favorite comedians — many of them Chris’s friends from UCB and other assorted colleagues — to meet her. Ted Leo happened to be one of Alyssa’s favorite musical artists, so he came to perform a mini-concert just for her. It was one of those times which showed just how far TCGS would go for its fans, but in a nice way and not one that involved Chris getting hit by dildos or dunked into a tub of ice water or stepped on by a dominatrix.
5. Crazy and the Brains (Episode 119, “Sxare The Shit Out Of Bethaby”)
This was another one of those episodes with a pretty simple premise made more balls-to-the-wall by the musical guest. While it was fun to watch the cast and fans try and freak Bethany Hall out, it was more of a treat to mosh to the punk-as-fuck sounds of Crazy and the Brains. They drove the audience so mad that everyone had to leave the studio afterwards to rearrange their faces, except for Bethany. That did scare the shit out of her.
6. The Ergs! (Fusion Season 2, Episode 8, “Tragedy Plus Time”)
While Mikey Erg had made many appearances on TCGS — as both a musical guest and a member of the house band — he also kept up a prolific career as a musician for every punk band in the world, as well as his own solo gig. But he hadn’t performed with his own band, The Ergs!, in almost a decade when the show moved from public access to Fusion. But towards the end of the show’s second season on Fusion, The Ergs! played a once-in-a-lifetime reunion concert for all those in attendance at the taping. In the punk world, this is equivalent to a reconvening of The Beatles.
7. Jeff Rosenstock (MNN Episode 124, “I’m Nervous All The Time”)
It’s well known — and well ignored — that Chris discouraged chanting at the beginning of episodes. Regardless, fans in the studio audience at MNN would follow the theme song with screams of “Murder!” or “Sandwich Night!” or anything else that came to mind. On the night of this particular episode, the chant was “Eat More Butts!” What began as a simple mantra became a full-blown rallying cry that lasted fifteen minutes without interruption, with musical guest (and ex-leader of Bomb The Music Industry & Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Long Island’s punk golden boy) Jeff Rosenstock joining in on the fun. Essentially, this episode had nothing to do with being nervous all the time. It was people screaming “Eat More Butts!”, Jeff Rosenstock ripping it up, and Chris yielding all power and control to his friends, fans, and forsaken gods. And that, friends, is how The Chris Gethard Show did business. May it rest in power. ⊜