Being Chris Hardwick seems like a tough job. He hosts the daily Comedy Central game show "@midnight," spends his Sunday nights playing therapist to "The Walking Dead" and "Fear the Walking Dead" fans on "The Talking Dead," records a weekly podcast -- and somehow manages to also be a touring stand-up comedian.
So it may come as a surprise that he's added yet another new job to his ever-growing list of responsibilities. "The Wall" is NBC's newest game show, executive produced by NBA star LeBron James, and for Hardwick -- the host of the show -- it's the chance to check something off of his career bucket list.
"When I was a kid I watched a lot of game shows, I always loved game shows -- and all those shows were big and flashy, and I always really wanted to do a big, flashy game show," he tells Screener.
Now he gets that chance -- it's impossible to deny how big and flashy "The Wall" is. The set is a four-story wall, which drops balls like a pachinko machine, giving players the opportunity to earn millions of dollars in the process.
This isn't your standard game show, though. While getting to play game show host on a grand scale interested Hardwick, it's the purpose of "The Wall" that drove him to sign on.
"The thing about 'The Wall' is, it's not intimate from the size of the set -- but if you really watch the show, there's a very intimate relationship between me and the person who's standing on stage," he says. "You spend the whole episode with one team of two people and they're all really good people. They were chosen specifically because LeBron wanted to make sure the show took people who were pillars in their community and gave them the chance to win money for themselves or their community."
Of course, given just how special those playing the game are, it's hard not to root for them all to win big. "It's NBC's money and I want to give them as much as possible," Hardwick admits. It doesn't always go that way, though: "When they win you feel great, and when it doesn't go well, you feel it," he says. "There were a couple episodes where I felt gut-punched."
That's what makes "The Wall" so special. There's always room for a new game show to watch, but it's not often that viewers feel an emotional tie to the contestants. That seems to be exactly what this show is aiming for: "'The Wall' is a very empathetic show, because you really get to like these people," the host says.
"The Wall" has a special preview on Monday, Dec. 19, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. It then premieres Tuesday, Jan. 3.