Chris Hardwick on His 'Annoyingly Energetic' Persona, '@midnight' Dream Guests

Chris Hardwick - PR Portrait - 2010

If The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are about news you need to know, @midnight's Chris Hardwick suggests his show is about the news you want to know.

At least that's what the Comedy Central late-night host hopes as his late-night effort works through its 40-week order. The series, which centers on comedians battling nightly to see who has the funniest take on the day's social media and pop culture happenings, offers a friendly environment and a higher joke-per-minute ratio than many of its rivals.

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Also differentiating Hardwick's @midnight offering is its upbeat tone, which is a reflection of its high-energy host, who describes himself as a cross between Sponge Bob and Tracy Flick from Election. "The energy on the show is super positive," he told reporters gathered for the Television Critics Association's semiannual press tour Friday, adding: "There's a lot of cynical comedy in the world, and I don't think we have to be mean to people."

Though it's still very early in the show's first official season run, Hardwick has been able to tap into the fun-loving, competitive nature of the comedian community, with guests that have ranged from Kristen Schaal to Judd Apatow. Looking ahead, Hardwick will try to beef up his guest list with more humorous people, be them classically trained comedians or not. Atop his current wish list are Jon Hamm, Tom Hanks, Mel Brooks and Joan Rivers.

Comedy Central executives have been pleasantly surprised by the speed at which the show resonated with the network's millennial viewership -- it ranked No. 3 behind lead-ins Daily Show and Colbert among the young male demo during its four-week trial run this fall -- and its lack of snark likely is a factor.

"I'm an annoyingly energetic person," explains the host, his enthusiasm on display.