Super Nerds is another one of those shows that on paper should be perfect for me, I’m a big comics fan and also rather enamoured with the comedy of Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Sarah Silverman, but this comic shop set multi-camera comedy is something of a dud. It’s strange given the talent involved, and there are some decent gags in the episode, but way too much of it is fairly embarrassing, a snap shot of geek culture packed full of cliches that rarely generate any laughter.
It focuses on Gayle (Brian Posehn) and Leslie (Patton Oswalt), two friends who hang around a comic book shop all day long despite the fact that only Leslie actually works there. They have lots of arguments about various geeky things but also bond over insulting others, with a pretty weak selection of jokes about cosplayers all revolving around the idea that Comic Cons feature “The wonderful alternative universe of overweight sci-fi characters” and they then list a selection, like “Jedi Master Obi-Chubb Kenobi, Boba Fat, Fat Vader, R2Fatso, Princess Leia Orfatter.” Fat jokes are weak at the best of times, but that the puns are so lacklustre in this really is bleak, especially given that Oswalt and Posehn are such talented comedians normally.
The cliches come thick and fast after that too as an attractive woman enters the shop looking for something for her son, and Leslie and Gayle discuss how hot they find her in a number of tedious ways, though of course being a nerd Leslie can barely say a word. Gayle attempts to flirt and so of course she leaves as quickly as she can, only for Gwen (Sarah Silverman) to enter, and because Gayle is trying to win an award for sleaziest man of the year he utters “Oh boy, two hotties in one day, is somebody playing a prank on us?”.
At least Silverman’s character comes across well, a genuinely knowledgeable comics fan who isn’t made fun of, though a little oddly it’s revealed that she fancies Leslie because they went to school together and he once stood up for her a good decade ago. The fact that as with the other woman he’s all but unable to form words when near her, or that she hasn’t seen him for years having only recently moved back to the area doesn’t seem to be an issue, and later on she tells Gayle about how much she likes Leslie, only for Gayle to essentially throw himself at her and so she sods off.
There’s one other major character in the show other than the three mentioned and that’s the owner of the shop, the East European Mr Vaskin who seems to have no interest in comics other than their financial worth, so presumably he was in for quite the shock in a couple of years time when the industry really started to struggle. He’s portrayed rather tediously and worst of all has an unseen brother called (something like) “Urgei” which allows Posehn to tediously joke “No, you’re gay”. Because twatty, irritating shit like this was funny twenty years ago apparently, though that’s definitely not how I remember it.
There are some moments that will provoke a smile, the show makes good use of flashbacks including how Gayle and Leslie met, with Gayle nostalgically commenting “And that was the first time we got beaten up together” afterwards. There’s also some minor meta humour as when after an expensive Star Trek bookend is smashed Gayle sits they’re laughing and when asked why he responds “I was just thinking if this was some turdy sitcom I would have been up all night trying to glue that back together”. But even that is only something which raised a brief smile, rather than anything approaching laughter.
It could be argued that it’s a product of it’s time, that given that it was made in 2000 that was still a time when geek culture was largely mocked, and that women had very little to do with it. But that wouldn’t reflect my own experiences of it in the slightest, perhaps if it had been made in the 1980’s that might have been true but by the turn of the century it wasn’t exactly uncommon to find women who were passionate about nerd related things like comics or sci-fi flicks.
When you look at how Simon Pegg’s Spaced handled comic book culture it’s all the more embarrassing as to how bad this is, and I’m amazed it came from three such well regarded comedians with a love for geekiness. All I can guess is that they thought it was an affectionate parody of the comic book stores of their youths and they misjudged the tone and didn’t realise just how weak the majority of the gags were, or how borderline unpleasant far too many of them managed to be as well.
You can watch the Super Nerds on Youtube here.