@MIDNIGHT IS IMPROVING HULK’S QUALITY OF LIFE

Film Crit Hulk jumps to the defense of Chris Hardwick's late night comedy panel show.

LET HULK TELL YOU ABOUT HOW YOU ARE ALL IMPROVING HULK'S QUALITY OF LIFE.

SO AT ANY GIVEN TIME, HULK IS EMPLOYED ON LIKE 5-13 DIFFERENT PROJECTS. AND HAVING GONE THROUGH PERIODS WHEN THAT NUMBER WAS ONE OR ZERO, HULK ATTACKS THESE PROJECTS WITH THE GUSTO AND PURPOSE OF A HULK WHO UNDERSTANDS THEY HAVE A FIGURATIVE WINNING LOTTERY TICKET IN THEIR HAND. THE TROUBLE IS THAT WHEN YOU PUT TOGETHER THE TIME NEEDED TO TEND TO ALL THESE PROJECTS, IT AMOUNTS TO ABOUT 100-120 HOURS A WEEK. ARE YOU EVEN SERIOUS, HULK? HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE ON A WEEK IN WEEK OUT BASIS? YES. HULK IS SERIOUS. AND YES IT IS POSSIBLE (ACTUALLY, LOTS OF PEOPLE DO IT). BUT HONESTLY, HULK DIDN'T THAT FIGURE EITHER AT FIRST. IT ONLY CAME OUT WHEN BETTY HELPED HULK TIME IT OUT. SO TO CLARIFY, HERE'S HULK'S DAILY ROUTINE:

HULK GETS UP AT 8 AM AND CAN BARELY FUNCTION. HULK IS NOT A MORNING HULK AND FOOD MAKES HULK'S STOMACH FEEL WEIRD THAT EARLY, SO HULK JUST STARTS DRINKING ESPRESSO. THEN HULK NEVER STOPS DRINKING ESPRESSO.

HULK IMMEDIATELY TRAVELS TO AVENGERS HQ WHERE TACKLES THE MAJORITY OF THESE PROJECTS AS THEY RELATE TO ONE ONGOING CENTRAL GIG. THE WORK VARIES. THERE ARE LOTS OF MEETINGS AND SOME TRAVELS. BUT IT IS ALL WORK THAT REQUIRES HEAVY-CONCENTRATION. THERE'S A LOT OF READING AND WRITING INVOLVED ALONG WITH THE HIGH RESPONSIBILITY STUFF. AND THEN MORE MEETINGS. THE DAY ITSELF IS ONLY BROKEN UP BY EATING THINGS OR THE OCCASIONAL TWITTER BREAKS... THIS WORK THIS GOES ON TIL ABOUT 8 OR 9 AT NIGHT.

THEN HULK GOES TO ADDITIONAL NIGHT MEETINGS, USUALLY OVER DINNER. IT'S NOT EVERY NIGHT, BUT IT HAPPENS MOST WEEKNIGHTS, ACTUALLY. IT OFTEN INVOLVES WORKING ON PROJECTS OUTSIDE THE CENTRAL GIGS, OR ARRANGING OTHER KINDS OF GIGS LATER ON. OR MAYBE, JUST MAYBE THESE DINNERS FEATURE THE RARE MOMENT OF SEEING FRIENDS OR OTHER PEOPLE WHOM HULK ADORES (SADLY, THIS USUALLY HAS TO BE SCHEDULED WEEKS IN ADVANCE).

THEN HULK COMES HOME EXHAUSTED. ON NON-MEETING NIGHTS COOKS DINNER FOR HULK AND BETTY (AS HULK LOVES TO COOK). WE TALK ABOUT OUR DAYS. THIS WHOLE PERIOD USUALLY INVOLVES RELAXATION SO WE GET BOTH GET ENERGY AGAIN AFTER A 12+ HOUR DAY.

THEN WE CONSUME SOME MEDIA. EVERY ONCE AND WHILE WE HAVE TIME FOR A MOVIE. USUALLY IT'S A SHOW OR TWO. WE LOVE HIGH-QUALITY, COMPELLING STUFF THAT USUALLY MAKES THE MOST OF THIS TIME. THAT ENTHRALLS OR INSPIRES US. IT'S ALMOST ALWAYS SOMETHING WE'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. DISCOVERY IS IMPORTANT.

THEN IT'S TIME TO START OTHER WORK AT ABOUT 11PM. (OR SOMETIMES LATER)

IT STARTS WITH CREATIVE CAPACITY STUFF FIRST. OFTEN DEALING WITH ANY PROJECTS OR DEVELOPING NEW ONES OUTSIDE OF OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES. THE BEST PART OF THIS TIME IS THAT IT IS WHEN HULK ISN'T BOTHERED BY OUTSIDE FORCES. HULK CAN FINISH WHATEVER IT IS THAT IS THE MOST PASSIONATE CONCERN, WHETHER IT IS GOING OVER A NEW DRAFT OF SOMETHING, OR DEVELOPING A NEW IDEA FOR SOMETHING ELSE. IT'S PROBABLY HULK'S MOST PRODUCTIVE FEW HOURS OF THE DAY.

AT AROUND 2 AM, HULK SWITCHES THE CREATIVE SIDE OFF AND TURNS ON THE ANALYTICAL. MOSTLY BY TURNING INTO THE GIANT GREEN CAPS MONSTER YOU KNOW BEFORE YOU AND STARTS WRITING ABOUT MOVIES. THIS GOES TIL ABOUT 4 OR 6 AM DEPENDING ON THE DAY AND WHAT'S DUE AND WHAT HAPPENED THE NIGHT BEFORE. THEN HULK GETS UP AT 8 AM AGAIN. ALL AND ALL, HULK WEEKLY SLEEP ROTATION GOES 4-5 HOURS. THEN 1-3 HOURS. WITH ONE BIG "CRASH" NIGHT ON THE WEEKENDS THEN IT ALL STARTS AGAIN.

THIS IS HOW HULK HAS TIME TO DO ALL THIS STUFF.

OF COURSE, HULK DOESN'T GO THROUGH THIS WORK WITHOUT MINOR OR MAJOR BREAKS. THERE'S A LOT OF GETTING UP AND GRABBING SNACKS. AND HULK ALWAYS TAKES 15 MINUTES TO ANSWER HULK-MAILS EVERY DAY. BUT OFTEN, BETTY IS UP AND WORKING TOO (SHE'S ALSO A NIGHT OWL AND HAS GOT HER OWN AWESOME STUFF GOING ON). AND DURING THIS TIME WE LIKE THE THINGS THAT ANCHOR US WE WORK. WE'LL LISTEN TO MUSIC SOMETIMES. OR JUST CATCH LITTLE BITS OF WHATEVER IS ON. THE IDEA IS TO MAKE THIS TIME A SHARED EXPERIENCE EVEN IF WE ARE WATCHING DIFFERENT THINGS.

BUT AS OF LAST OCTOBER, @MIDNIGHT HAS COME INTO OUR LIVES.

WE ALWAYS DVR SO SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO WAIT A LITTLE BIT AS WE GOT A LATE START, BUT THE MOMENT IT'S ON IT IS PRACTICALLY AN ENDORPHIN SHOT OF BENEVOLENT, GOOD FEELINGS THAT SERVES AS THE PERFECT ARC INTO OUR NIGHTLY SCHEDULES.

THERE'S THIS MYTH ABOUT COMFORT SHOWS THAT YOU "TURN YOUR BRAIN OFF" WHILE YOU WATCH THEM. THAT IDEA IS SOMETHING HULK ABHORS. HULK GETS WHY PEOPLE SAY THAT, BUT THAT'S A HORRIBLE THING TO ENCOURAGE (AND IT'S NOT EVEN WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING). WE SHOULD BE ENGAGING OUR BRAINS AT EVERY MOMENT. WHAT THE "TURN YOUR BRAIN OFF" PERCEPTION IS REALLY ABOUT, IS HOW THERE ARE SHOWS THAT REQUIRE HIGH-ENERGY AND SHOWS THAT REQUIRE LOW-ENERGY (WHICH ARE REALLY JUST RESULTS OF THE LEVEL OF CONCENTRATION WE NEED). BREAKING BAD REQUIRES A CERTAIN LEVEL OF ENERGY. LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN REQUIRES LESS. BUT THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS LESS BRILLIANT OR "GOOD" ABOUT EITHER OPTION. IT'S JUST AN INTENSITY SETTING. AND THE GREAT THING ABOUT LOW ENERGY SHOWS IS THAT ALLOW YOU TO COME IN AND OUT OF THEM AND STILL ENJOY LITTLE BITS OF NUGGETS OR THE FUNNIEST MOMENTS.

BUT BECAUSE OF ALL THE CONFUSION OF TERMINOLOGY AND PURPOSE, WE TEND TO CREATE A LOT OF LOW-ENERGY SHOWS IN CYNICAL, INDULGENT, AND GROSS FASHION. HULK DOESN'T LIKE A LOT OF LOW-ENERGY SHOWS, TO BE HONEST. MOST REALITY TV IS OFTEN MEAN-SPIRITED TOWARDS ITS SUBJECTS (AND EVEN WITH THE NICE REALITY STUFF, HULK WOULD STILL RATHER BE WATCHING SOMETHING SCRIPTED OR FEATURING COMEDY / ETC - SO IT JUST GOES OUT THE WINDOW. IT'S A RULE IN THE HOUSE). OR THE CONTENT IS JUST SO CYNICALLY PRODUCED AS TO BE LISTLESS. AND SO @MIDNIGHT IS THE FIRST SHOW THAT HULK CAN REMEMBER IN ODIN KNOWS HOW LONG THAT HULK CAN TRULY DIGEST AND ENJOY IN NUGGET FORM. AND THE REASON FOR THIS IS NOT BECAUSE IT IS SOMETHING "LESSER" THAT HULK IS MERELY ENJOY FROM ON HIGH...

IT IS BECAUSE IT IS BASICALLY PERFECT AT WHAT IT IS TRYING TO DO.

THE SHOW IS ACTUALLY A THROWBACK IN SOME WAYS TO THE OLD GOLDEN ERA OF TV GAME SHOWS WHERE STARS AND PERSONALITIES WOULD COME ON AND INTERACT WITH CONTESTANTS POSSIBLY AND THE WHOLE THING WAS BASICALLY JUST AN ELABORATE EXCUSE TO LET FUNNY PEOPLE BE FUNNY (IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THE MATCH GAME WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS EVER, GO DOWN THE YOUTUBE HOLE AND FIND OUT WHY). WE HAVE SO MANY SHOWS THAT PRODUCE FUNNY AND WE HAVE SO MANY SHOWS THAT TRY TO FIND FUNNY AND EDIT IT DOWN, BUT IT'S AMAZING HOW LITTLE THERE IS TODAY THAT TRIES TO BLEND THOSE OPTIONS. THAT REALLY USED TO BE WHAT TV DID FOR THE MOST PART, AS THERE'S SO MUCH HUMOR THAT COMES OUT OF PURE INTERACTION IN A HIGH-PRESSURE CAPACITY. IT'S AMAZING HOW MUCH MODERN TV DOESN'T MAKE SPACE FOR THAT KIND OF HUMOR.  AND @MIDNIGHT IS THE SHOW THAT NOT ONLY DOES THAT, BUT BRINGS IT RIGHT BACK TO YOU THROUGH THE EVENTS AND MEMES CREATED IN OUR OWN SHARED SPACE (THAT WOULD BE THE INTERNET).

THE THING ABOUT @MIDNIGHT IS THAT IT SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF THE DISCUSSION OF THE SHOW CENTERS AROUND CHRIS HARDWICK AND WHATEVER HE MAY REPRESENT TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. THE INTERNET AT LARGE SEEMS TO HAVE A DICHOTOMOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM, IN THAT HE BOTH REFLECTS AND EXACERBATES THE PALPABLE EXCITEMENT OF FANDOM AND YET HE'S ALSO AN EASY TARGET FOR ALL KINDS OF FAUX-NERD ACCUSATORY MALICE... WHICH IS MOSTLY RIDICULOUS.  THE HARDWICK HULK KNOWS (MOSTLY THROUGH LISTENING TO THE PODCAST FOR A LONG TIME) IS ONE WHO HAS GONE THROUGH A REALLY STRANGE SHOWBIZ / PERSONAL JOURNEY AND TALKS ABOUT QUITE OPENLY. HE'S BATTLED ALCOHOLISM AND THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF CAREER STUFF, ALL OF WHICH HAS HELPED TURN HIM INTO A REMARKABLY CHARISMATIC AND POSITIVE FIGURE IN THE LARGER COMMUNITY. WHAT IS SO FUNNY ABOUT THE WAY HE IS OFT-CHARACTERIZED FOR HIS "NAIVETY" IN THE NERD-CRED BULLSHIT, IS THAT HE'S A GROWN-ASS MAN WHO GETS THE VERY SIMPLE AND "SOBERING" REALITY THAT GOOD THINGS ARE ALWAYS A DAMN A MITZVAH. AND YEAH, EVEN HULK HAD SOME PROBLEMS WHEN HE USED STANDARD LANGUAGE OF FANDOM FOR A SHOW AS NUANCED AS BREAKING BAD, BUT THAT'S JUST AN EASILY AVOIDABLE ASPECT OF A PERSON'S PUBLIC PERSONALITY. NOT ITS ENTIRETY. NO, THE FAR MORE IMPORTANT TRUTH HIS EXCITEMENT IS NOT NAIVETY, BUT BEING ABLE TO ACCEPT THE JOY OF HARD WON MOMENTS IN A SOCIETY THAT DOESN'T REALLY KNOW HOW TO EMBRACE THAT. AND THROUGH THAT UNDERSTANDING, HE'S BEEN ABLE TO TURN THAT MESSAGE INTO AN EMPIRE OF POSITIVITY, MOSTLY THROUGH RECOGNIZING HIS OWN TRULY OUTSTANDING TALENTS FOR HOSTING AND SPREADING IT OUTWARD.

WHICH JUST MEANS THAT COMPARING THE SHOW TO SOMETHING LIKE WHAT TOSH.O IS DOES IS NOTHING BUT ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE EGREGIOUS ERRORS OF CONFUSING FORM FOR FUNCTION. SURE, BOTH SHOWS ABSOLUTELY USE THE LANGUAGE OF SHOWING / MAKING FUN OF THE INTERNET, BUT TOSH.O IS THE AMERICAN BULLY PERSONIFIED (HE GETS AWAY WITH IT MOSTLY DUE TO KNOWING SMILE, BUT HIS EFFORTS TO MAKES US FEEL LIKE IT'S ALL OKAY DOESN'T MEAN IT IS ACTUALLY OKAY... FAR FROM IT). BUT WHEN @MIDNIGHT IS TALKING ABOUT REAL PEOPLE, THERE IS LEFT-FIELD, CELEBRATORY KINDNESS AT THE CENTER OF IT. PARTLY BECAUSE THE SHOW (AND ITS GUESTS) RECOGNIZE THAT THEY ARE JUST AS MUCH A PART OF THE CRAZY, SWIRLING RIDICULOUSNESS OF THE INTERNET TOO. IT'S ALL ABSURD. AND LIKE THE OLD ADAGE GOES, THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT THEY ARE LAUGHING WITH, NOT AT.

BUT THE SUPER-BEST-THING ABOUT @MIDNIGHT IS THAT IT IS A PERFECT SHOWCASE FOR YOUNG COMICS AND VARIOUS PERSONALITIES. NOT JUST THE OBVIOUS, UBER-TALENTED COMEDIAN FOLKS LIKE FRIEND-OFBADASS KUMAIL NANJIANI OR THE CRASS JOYS OF KYLE KINANE (ONE OF HULK'S OTHER FAVORITES), BUT ALL KINDS OF GREAT YOUTUBE PERSONALITIES AND KICK-ASS FEMALE COMICS THAT NORMALLY HAVE EVEN LARGER AUDIENCES THAN THE YOUNG GUY COMICS, BUT RARELY THAT KIND OF EQUAL STAGE TIME ON TELEVISION. HULK IS ADAMANT ABOUT HOW MUCH THIS STUFF MATTERS. AND THERE MAY BE NO BETTER SHOWCASE FOR YOUNG TALENT ON TELEVISION RIGHT NOW. ESPECIALLY FOR NON-WHITE MALES (BUT MORE MAY COME WITH MELTDOWN SHOW!).

EVEN BEYOND THE EXTENDED CIRCUMSTANCES, @MIDNIGHT IS WONDERFUL. ESPECIALLY IN THE WAY THE SHOW ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO ENGAGE THE BASIC NOTIONS OF JOKE CRAFT WITH WORKMAN-LIKE GLEE.

* * *

OH FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, PLEASE DON'T TAKE THIS AS SOME KIND OF SHOT AT JORDAN. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH (AND THE USE OF HIS LANGUAGE HERE HAS HULK'S TONGUE FIRMLY IN CHEEK, JUST LIKE HIS WAS). HULK ADORES THE MAN, SO NONE OF THAT.

ALL THIS REALLY SPEAKS TO IS THE WAY MEDIA EXISTS AND PERVADES DIFFERENT CONTEXTS OF OUR LIVES.  WE ALL HAVE VARIOUS KINDS OF DRUTHERS (TRY MAKING HULK WATCH MOVIE WHERE DRAMA IS FEIGNED THROUGH FAMILIES YELLING AT EACH OTHER AND SAYING THE MOST CARTOONISHLY MEAN THING POSSIBLE... HULK GOES APOPLECTIC) AND THE WAY THESE THINGS CAN MANIFEST IN SPACES WE DEEM AS "OURS." SENSE OF OWNERSHIP OF THOSE SPACES ASIDE, WHEN IT COMES RIGHT DOWN TO IT, WE NEED GOOD THINGS IN OUR SPACES.

GIVEN THE INSANE SCHEDULE HULK DESCRIBED AT THE BEGINNING, IT MAY COME AS NO SURPRISE THAT RECENTLY HULK REALIZED THAT HULK HAD NOT TAKEN A SINGLE DAY OFF IN A YEAR.  AND BEYOND THAT, HULK HADN'T TAKEN A VACATION DAY THAT WASN'T ALSO DOUBLING FOR SOME WORK OR FILM FESTIVAL THING IN THE LAST THREE YEARS... THIS IS ITS OWN PROBLEM AND CENTRAL TO SOME WORKAHOLIC SHIT, BUT THAT'S ANOTHER CONVERSATION. THE TRUTH IS FOR AS MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE LITTLE TO DO, THERE ARE PROBABLY FIVE TIMES AS MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT ARE INCREDIBLY BUSY... MOST OF THEM ARE PEOPLE WITH KIDS (AND AS INSANE AS HULK'S SCHEDULE IS, THERE IS NOTHING QUITE LIKE THE DAILY HORROR OF WORRYING / BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR ANOTHER BEINGS SAFETY). BUT BETWEEN WORK AND KIDS AND RESPONSIBILITIES AND THE HORRIFIC EVENTS THAT SHOCK AND SHAPE OUR LIVES, WE HAVE TO REALIZE THAT SO MANY OF US ARE JUST DYING FOR A DAMN MOMENT TO OURSELVES, IF ONLY TO FIND SOME PEACE OR SMALL JOY.

SO ALL HULK WANTED TO NOTE WAS THAT THE KEY TO FINDING HAPPINESS IN THESE INCREDIBLY BUSY SPACES WHERE WE RAISE KIDS (OR WORK OUR FUCKING ASSES OFF IN THE NAME OF DREAMS OR WHATEVER) IS TO FIND WAYS OF CRAMMING IN THESE LITTLE WINDOWS OF BLISS (HOPEFULLY IN SOME KIND OF SHARED WAY). BUT PART OF THAT MEANS FINDING THE THINGS THAT PERFECTLY FITS INTO OUR LIVES, WHETHER THEY ARE HAPPY ACCIDENTS OR THE VERY THING THAT WE REVOLVE OUR LIVES AROUND.

IN THAT SPIRIT, @MIDNIGHT HAS BEEN A PURE JOY FOR THIS GREEN GUY.

<3 HULK

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