This is the true story of how one self-described “sh*tbag dork” used Twitter to connect with mega-star and all-around King of Cool, Diddy, and convinced him to appear as guest at his upcoming comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. Sounds impossible, right? But all it took for our longtime friend Chris Gethard (pictured above) was a Twitter account, a hashtag, a bunch of eager participants, and a dream. And of course – a celebrity who gets what the Web 2.0 world is all about: connection and communication, in 140 characters or less.
We chatted with Chris about how he hooked up with Diddy, what it was like talking to him on both Twitter and the phone (how 1995!) and what to expect when he hosts the hip-hop mogul at The Chris Gethard Show in February.
Read our interview with Chris under the jump.
TheFABlife: So, for those who haven’t known you since 2002, who are you and what is the Chris Gethard Show?
Chris: I am a comedian, actor, writer type guy and just kind of a weirdo in general. My entire adult life has been spent getting into ill-advised or odd situations. The Chris Gethard Show is a talk show that happens once a month at the UCB Theater in NYC where I do weird stunts like the Wheel of Degradation. [Ed. Note: Chris described this as “a comedy battle” between him and friend Will Hines, where the loser had to spin the wheel and do humiliating things like “strip down to his underwear and later submerge himself in a cooler full of ice” or drink a mixture of horseradish and Robitussin, which made Chris puke.] I also interview people; January’s guest is Lisa, the girl I went on the worst date of my life with. It’s a pretty big leap, from the girl I went on a date with to Diddy.
TheFABlife: You originally asked Al Roker to be a guest on your show via Twitter, and he politely declined. How fast did that take?
Chris: Al Roker declined my invitation to do the show within two hours. I posted the invite at midnight between Christmas Eve and Christmas. He declined at about 2:15 AM. I was surprised how quickly he responded, but not as surprised as I was that Al Roker was awake and on Twitter at 2:00 AM.
TheFABlife: So you then asked Diddy via Twitter, set up a #DiddyGethard hashtag, and encouraged friends to retweet. How long did it take from your original tweet until you got a response from him?
Chris: We started Twittering Diddy on Christmas night, right after Roker declined. I instantly upped the ante and went for Diddy. He responded on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. There were dozens of people messaging him. Probably close to 100 people contributed, some of them posting many messages every day. When he actually responded – oddly enough to my friend Winston – “What’s the Gethard show?” we all saw that and went nuts. He got hundreds of tweets about it within the hour, which lead to him saying he wanted to do the show but was busy for the January date, and he asked me to send him my number so he could call me.
TheFABlife: What was that phone call like? Did you guys giggle together or did you keep it professional?
Chris: The phone call was at the same time very normal and very surreal. He was totally gracious and nice. And as you would imagine, even over the phone he was the coolest person I’ve ever interacted with. Recently, I have become obsessed with the idea that shows can be experiences for the audience, and Diddy really got that and seemed into that idea. The short answer is: he is cool as shit. I didn’t giggle, except for when he said he was initially confused by the messages people were sending him because he thought people were telling him to ‘Get Hard,’ which my last name spells, even though it’s pronounced “Geth-urd.” I believe he said something along the lines of, “At first I thought it was some weird sex thing.”
TheFABlife: Like his epic tantric sex tweets.
Chris: Yeah, just like his tantric sex tweet – which was part of why I knew he was cool and had a sense of humor.
TheFABlife: Does this make you believe in the power of Twitter?
Chris: Well, when Twitter first came out, I didn’t really get it. But as a comedian, I know Facebook and Twitter are great promotional tools, because they put you in touch with people directly. I put up a YouTube video explaining to Diddy what I was going for, and the phrase I kept using was “I want to believe in a world where this can happen.” And Twitter really proved that the world is a place where odd and extraordinary things can happen. At the end of the day, all that happened was that I nicely asked Diddy to do my show and he said yes. Without Twitter, how does some sh*tbag dork like me ever get in touch with Diddy? Impossible.
TheFABlife: What are you going to have Diddy do in the show?
Chris: Jeez, I have no idea. I have been brainstorming a lot of things, but I don’t think I can give spoilers on those. All I know is I won’t be making any jokes about Diddy, because the show is not about being cynical or aggressive, it’s about celebrating sh*t. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was Ciroc involved though.
TheFABlife: You know he has a show here on VH1.
Chris: Yes, he is an intimidating presence on television, between “I Want To Work For Diddy” and “Making The Band.” You don’t want to mess with the guy.
TheFABlife: No way. That dude makes people walk to Brooklyn to get him cheese cake…which is why he’s so awesome.
Chris: Yeah, for sure.
Chris: F*ck, now I’m nervous.
You can find out more about The Chris Gethard Show and the UCB Theatre at UCBTheatre.com. Follow Chris Gethard on Twitter at @chrisgethard and Facebook (his words: “I straight up accept everyone.”)
Talk to Diddy on Twitter at @IAmDiddy.