NOTE: This article will not spoil what’s inside the dumpster. If you haven’t seen the episode, continue reading without fear of spoilers.
Days before his new HBO special, Career Suicide premiered, Chris Gethard made a special announcement. The Chris Gethard Show, the free-for-all public access television program-turned-Fusion staple, was coming back for another season on truTV. In a press release, the host said he was “thrilled to have a new home” for the show, especially since the network was letting him do it live. “Kudos to them for embracing what could be a real disaster. My promise to you though is that should it be a disaster, The Chris Gethard Show on truTV will be the most watchable disaster the world has ever seen.”
You’d think the headliner of a talk show program would avoid advertising it as a “disaster,” but not Gethard. More than anything, the Upright Citizens Brigade alum relishes every opportunity he can muster to transform such moments into comedy gold. It’s what makes The Chris Gethard Show what it truly is — the “most watchable disaster” ever seen on late night. Gethard is an oddball — an outsider who shares more in common with David Letterman‘s Late Night days and Allan Havey‘s lost Comedy Central gem Night After Night. And flirting with disaster is what makes his show stand apart.
Will Ferrell toasting strangers at their televised wedding, Sean “Diddy” Combs walking through the “Diddy Door” — his designated entry — and arguing with executive producer Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm fighting pro-wrestlers while wearing a sumo suit — The Chris Gethard Show is rife with such crazed moments. Yet for in the show’s penultimate Fusion episode — “One Man’s Trash,” which aired one year ago — the stunt to end all stunts didn’t involve mass marriage, faux celebrity feuds or wrestling matches. “Have you ever walked past a dumpster and been like, ‘Yo! I wonder what’s in that dumpster?’” Gethard asks during the cold open. “If so, tonight’s episode is your dream come true.”
“This is not bullshit. This is not me crafting an image. I see disasters and think they’re the funniest thing in the world,” the comic told us about the episode’s explosive popularity. “Remember when Ernie Anastos said, ‘Go fuck that chicken’? That’s funnier than any written comedy I’ve ever seen.” It’s a great attitude to have when watching “One Man’s Trash” for the first or 10th time, but it’s especially perfect for making an entire show about guessing what’s inside a fake (yes, fake) dumpster. Others would consider such an act disastrous, but not The Chris Gethard Show. To figure out why, I spoke with Gethard, guests Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas, and many others to unpack the dumpster’s behind-the-scenes story and its lasting appeal.