Comedy Central’s @midnight – which aired its final episode last Friday – had a nearly impossible premise: define the indefinable by corralling the social media mosh pit that the internet has become into something graspable and tangible. But for four years and 600 episodes, Chris Hardwick and an ever-shuffling crew of established and up-and-coming comedians did an admirable job of doing exactly that.
“Nothing else on television today has done as much to showcase the humor and improvisational abilities of stand-up comics and comedic actors. In fact, nothing else in the modern peak TV era has replicated what The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson did for comedy.” – Andrew Husband, Uproxx
The format was simple enough: each night, a panel of three comedians competed gameshow-style to contemplate internet-inspired queries in a sort of freestyle inverse Jeopardy, where there were no right answers, only clever ones.
What, for example, would be the most appropriate way to join the Koch Brothers’ celebration of fossil fuels for Earth Day? What would be an ironclad commandment for a theoretical Star Wars religion? If Pitbull ran for governor of Florida, what would his campaign slogan be? What, you are probably wondering, would be the advantages of global warming? Arden Myrin, Orlando Jones and Nimesh Patel have their ideas on that one:
The cornerstone of the show, of course, was #HashtagWars, the recurring segment that unleashed bizarre and – for the uninitiated – inexplicable trending Twitter threads every weeknight the show aired. In the final episode, Hardwick himself swerved into button-slamming mode, jumping in as a contestant for the first time in the show’s history, riffing on #BabyMovies, #DeadTV, #StonerBroadway, #AnimalMovies, #DrunkVideoGames and other topics among a rotating power panel of biting comics:
For this raucous, inspired and highly original platform, the show won two Emmys – for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Social TV Experience – in both 2015 and ’16, as well as copious praise from critics, who lauded the show’s role as a pipeline for emerging comedic talent.