Chris Hardwick Takes Us Behind the Scenes of Red Nose Day

Maarten de Boer/NBC

When it comes to making a grand entrance, Chris Hardwick knows how to pull it off. The warmhearted comedian who hosts Talking Dead and The Wall made quite an introduction last year as he took the stage in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza for NBC’s live Red Nose Day event.

“The stage last year had this material that looks really great on camera but is really deadly slippery if it gets even kind of moist — this material was like a Slip ’N Slide. So, of course, it was raining all day,” Hardwick explains. “People were going down left and right, and I was very pleased with myself that during rehearsal, I was able to stay on my feet. And then we start the live broadcast and they go, ‘OK, go’ and I take two steps out onto this surface and my feet are just up in the air before I know what’s happening. I fell right on my ass, which was great because it wasn’t an intended pratfall but it was just a great way to start off the special. It was one of those accidental in-the-moment things, and it sort of started off with ‘Well, you can’t take yourself too seriously.’”

And Red Nose Day is actually a balance of just that — it’s celebrities coming together for an evening of laughter and serious fundraising with a global goal of ending child poverty. The event was started in the U.K. in 1988 by Comic Relief and has since raised over $1 billion globally in its 30-year history. Since its launch in the U.S. in 2015, the event has raised over $100 million — $40 million last year alone — where proceeds have positively impacted the lives of more than 8.3 million children living in the States and internationally.

This year’s event will air on NBC Thursday, May 24, and will again feature Hardwick at the helm along with a mix of celebrities and educational segments on children and communities in need.

“I don’t think a lot of people really know how bad it is,” Hardwick says. “I think most people have a vague idea that, you know, there are hungry children in the world, there are children who need care. They don’t necessarily put a face to it or they don’t necessarily think about it in very clear terms. I think that’s why it’s so important that we do specials like this to remind people — to be able to put faces on it so that people really do understand and they can empathize and see this is real. This is a real problem, and this is something that’s not gonna go away unless we do something about it.”

For a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve — he’s frequently teary-eyed just listening to his Wall contestants share their hardships and a total hot mess when it comes to Walking Dead major casualties (like who isn’t, right?) — Hardwick couldn’t be more genuine in trying to do his part to make a difference.

“They do such a great job putting the show together and so many people jump onboard and want to play around, so the special itself has a really nice range of emotions. It’s really fun and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but then obviously, it can be very touching and dramatic and beautiful, and so it’s just a great thing to be involved with,” Hardwick says. “This is not a political issue. It’s a human issue. Anytime a child is hungry or feels unloved or is not taken care of, that’s a crime against nature. One of the things that [celebrities] can do with the gift that we’re given by having these megaphones is to help build awareness for things that people should be aware of and be paying attention to. I can’t think of many causes that are as universal and as pressing as children.”

So how do we do something about it? How can we help?
It’s simple really. You can call the number during the telecast, make a donation online at rednoseday.org or buy a red nose at Walgreens. All money raised goes directly to the efforts. You can also put on that red nose and spread the word, and together we can make a difference.

Making A Difference …
Since 2015, Red Nose Day has raised over $100 million to help children in America and around the world via money distributed to grantee partners like Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Children’s Health Fund, Covenant House, Feeding America, Laureus Sport for Good, Save the Children and charity: water. Here are just a few of the services that were provided:
32.2 Million Meals From meals for children to take home for a weekend to the after-school Kids Cafes, millions of meals have been provided.
850,000 Children Received Educational Support Educational programs helped children in literacy and numeracy, along with providing tutoring, mentorship and classroom supplies.
6.7 Million Children Received Medical Services In the U.S., Red Nose Day assists low-income and homeless children with medical services. Internationally, the money goes toward providing life-saving vaccines, such as those that protect against polio, rotavirus and malaria.

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