Laser Time – Evolution of the Nerd

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From the the science dweebs of the ’60s to the sex comedy dorks of the ’80s to the annoying geeks of the ’90s and beyond, Chris, Dave, Henry, and Bob Mackey dissect the pop culture creature that is… THE NERD.

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21 thoughts on “Laser Time – Evolution of the Nerd

  1. Let’s hope the “NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERD” sound clip from The Simpsons is played ad nauseam.

    I’m also happy to be in an age where my “nerdy” interests are fairly accepted and often lead to billion dollar revenues, rather than bullying and judgement.

  2. wait… what about Jerry Lewis as the Nutty Professor? from 1963. I saw it as a kid and I think it’s the first time I became aware of nerdy stuff.
    Krang from TMNT is an alien nerd. an angry, angry alien nerd.
    The Toxic Avenger was a nerd before he mutated (maybe after, as well.)
    Kid (from kid n play) played a nerd in the movie Class Act.
    Luke Skywalker, was a geek, with his model star ships an’ shit but not nerdy enough to know about FTL space ship travel navigation.
    Emmett Brown, was a triumphant and good hearted, nerd.
    so many tv/movie nerds… I want to a nerd/geek article!

    I got called a nerd for the first time my senior year in chemistry class by my ex elementary school bully turned just another guy. I got a “D” on a test and he yelled out from across the class, man I thought you were a nerd? I shook my head no, because I self identified as an artist/geek who watched animation and read comic books.
    I hung out with nothing but other artists, and a lot of them fell along the line of stoner/burnout.
    I feel like there’s a difference between geek and nerd. at least when we were kids we thought nerds as super smart at things like math and science but geeks as a different class because they were smart at fringe level pop culture things or just stuff that “cool” people weren’t into.
    I still self identify as a Geek not a Nerd. But we all got a long perfectly fine, one of my friends girlfriend went on to become a marine biologist, which we thought was super nerdy but also really impressive at the time.

    1. I kept thinking about Jerry Lewis as well, in addition to an example from a few years prior to that: the ORIGINAL Poindexter, from Felix the Cat.

  3. Great episode. I love Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley, and it has a funny meta take on the various stereotypes of nerd culture in tech. You mentioned Martin Starr for his roles in Freaks & Geeks and Party Down, and he has another great role in Silicon Valley as well.

  4. What was that intro clip? Sounded like someone screaming at Big Bang Theory, and I can’t get enough hate for that dumb show

  5. Haven’t listened yet, but if Revenge of the Nerds comes up I hope they bring up the fact that the main character basically rapes a girl and we’re all supposed to be ok with it.

  6. “It’s problematic.” “It’s so problematic.” “The scene is problematic.” “Problematic…. and problematic.” “PROBLAMAAAAAATIC!”

    Yep. Must be a Bob Mackey episode.

    That rape scene in Revenge of the Nerds is gross. It’s amazing what was considered innocuous fun in the 80s and 90s. Same with Sixteen Candles and the date rape scene.

    1. Very complaint-heavy episode. To paraphrase Homer, it seemed their job to give nerds a hard time.

      Always Sunny had a great bit about 80s comedies where the old burnout misfit was pulling Porky’s-level stunts and got arrested for pulling those for 30 years. You figure Lambda^3 would have been shut down for the naked pictures in the cream pies beforehand, just like you’d expect Arnold’s character in Commando would have had police and FBI swarming him once he got home for stealing tanks and beating up security guards, but neither happened. This level of over-the-topness will probably never happen again.

  7. As a student at the University of Arizona, I am reminded of Revenge of the Nerds pretty often since it was filmed on campus. I think the dorm they actually used in the film makes its residents watch it at least once a year. What a great message to imprint on the brains on young, freshmen boys…

  8. That Chaz Jankel song during the break has been in my head all day after listening to this episode. I’d never heard it before and its awesome.

  9. This was an amazing episode. I don’t know how often it’d work, but I’d love to see more “Topic X” through the decade episodes like this.

    I don’t know how into HBO you guys are, but Silicon Valley is another great nerd depiction. It’s one of those “so accurate it hurts” things. I swear I’ve had some of the exact same awkward conversations as Thomas Middleditch and it’s worrying.

  10. It’s so weird hearing you guys talk about wrestling like it’s a nerdy thing. When I was in school wrestling was the biggest jock thing there was. The people who liked it were bullies who would defend it as 100% real and do moves to kids on the playground. Even after all these years of hearing you guys talk about wrestling it still seems like you guys are in an alternate dimension. Maybe it’s a generational difference since I’m a bit younger than you guys.

  11. I haven’t listened to the show in a while (like 2 years, my bad yall), looks like you guys have stepped up the website a good bit. From an old TalkRadar fan, glad to see you guys growing.

  12. Such a good episode! I’ve had a lot of LT catching up to do, and much enjoying…
    Revenge of the Nerds made a lot of kids dread college I think, as if it was just ‘High School 2’

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