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Exploring the nerdy depths of Chris Hardwick

The idea that Chris Hardwick could use his proficient nerd skills to make his way in the world first came to him as a young bowler with a girl propped up against a trash bin behind a bowling alley.

“My most vivid memory was that I was a teenage boy with my hand down a girl’s pants up against a Dumpster behind a bowling center,” Hardwick says. “I remember just not really knowing what to do. Except thinking,  I do have this bowling background, and …”

There is no questioning that Hardwick,  who brings his Comedy Central game show @midnight to the South Beach Comedy Festival Friday night, has gone on to create an accomplished nerd resume:  The @nerdist podcast, the hosting of the comic-book fanboy yakfest “Talking Dead,” the voice work for a kids cartoon. Look down the page for hobbies and he acknowedges that he’s still an avid bowler (“the nerds of the athletic world”). Under “personal” you learn that his longtime girlfriend is a serious gamer and Cosplay fan that Hardwick met at a Dr. Who convention.

But as with most resumes, these truths have two sides.

The @nerdist empire, which includes the podcast and a YouTube channel, counts dreadlocked rocker Rob Zombie among its adherents. “Talking Dead” is a popular live after-show debate of AMC’s bloody horror hit “The Walking Dead” (both shows set ratings records with Sunday’s season finale). And Nickelodeon’s animated “Sanjay and Craig,” about a boy and his pizza-loving pet snake (Hardwick voices the snake, Craig), is one of those witty cartoons that adults can watch, too.

When Hardwick says he bowls, it’s not like you and me throwing balls between beers. He lived briefly in Miami, where grandfather Jim Facente owned Palm Springs Lanes in Hialeah, and he’s also the son of former pro bowler Billy Hardwick.

“If I’m bowling regularly, I’ll average in the low 200s,” he says, nonchalantly.

And his girlfriend … looks like a supermodel. Though she’s still a nerd, Hardwick says.

“Whatever you would judge by looking at her, is not who she really is,” Hardwick says of Chloe Dykstra, whose father, John Dykstra, did special effects for “Star Wars” and other major films. “She’s got nerd pedigree.”

And what does a busy TV star and his hot girlfriend do for fun?

“I have like an hour at night, or two, to fill with something,” Hardwick says. “We were playing ‘League of Legends’ for a while. She just finished it a little bit ahead of me, but I’m almost done with ‘South Park: The Stick of Truth,’ which is amazing. She got about halfway through ‘The Last of Us,’ and she just started playing it again. Our favorite games are ‘Uncharted,’ ‘Left for Dead,’ ‘Red Dead Redemption.’  We like a lot of the same stuff.”

Chris Hardwick brings Comedy Central's @Midnight to the Colony Theatre (1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach) at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday. Special guests include comics Doug Benson, Matt Braunger and Arden Myrin. Tickets: $35 at

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