Revenge of the nerds

Geeks Versus Nerds is well into its second season, happily debating pop culture until the break of dawn. Mark Black chooses sides.

Geeks Versus Nerds is lovingly produced by the Geeksploitation crew. - ANGELA GZOWSKI
Geeks Versus Nerds is lovingly produced by the Geeksploitation crew.

Worf versus Chewbacca, MacGyver versus The A-Team and Optimus Prime versus Iron Man sound like conversation fodder for basement orc-slaying campaigns or topics best suited for messageboards and comic-book shops.

But solving these arguments is the raison d'etre of the locally produced comedy debate show Geeks Versus Nerds. Like a geek version of Lewis Black's Root of All Evil, it isn't hard to imagine geek comedians Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn on stage arguing the merits of Darth Vader as a better second in command than Spock.

A man known as PigMonkey (AKA Andrew Dorfman), serves as debate moderator and producer, Jennie Roy is the director and John Roy handles promotions. They are a formidable three-headed hydra with 16 episodes, more than 32 debates and almost two seasons of Geeks Versus Nerds under their belts.

"What it came down to for me when I had this idea, was that people will love this because they are passionate," says PigMonkey.

The debates, at first glance, lack real world implications, but for the live and always participatory audience of Geeks Versus Nerds, the topics are incredibly compelling.

"It's something that's been around forever," explains PigMonkey. "I have sat with other geeks in basements and had geek arguments of 'this' versus 'that.' Everybody's done it, even people who feel they aren't geeks. It works with sports heroes---who would be a better batter in the modern era? These are things that everybody does."

Two opposing sides of three face off for nearly a half-dozen nerd rage-filled rounds of intense and funny debate. Order is determined by a 20-sided die.

The debate rules aren't of the parliamentary style (British, Canadian or otherwise), but there are points of personal privilege, as personal attacks or insults are not allowed. There's a level of decorum and respect when geeks and nerds square off. The final word rests with the audience.

Sci-fi author Robert Heinlein was the first to use the term geek in its modern form, but what a geek actually is and how that differs from a nerd is continually in flux. Is there a distinction?

"Yes, the geeks sit on the right side of the stage and nerds sit on the left," says PigMonkey jokingly. "You can ask that question to everybody and everybody will have a different answer. When you're using the term 'nerd,' you're generally referring to things that are more academic. Whereas geeks just really like something a lot. A LOT!"

"When I assign the teams, if it's a Star Wars versus Star Trek type of debate, then Star Wars is geeks and Star Trek is nerds," says Jennie Roy.

PigMonkey describes regular participant Fat Apollo as someone who has 20 different geeks living inside him. Fat Apollo, AKA Mike McCluskey, was Jennie's boss before appearing in the first show. A huge fan of Battlestar Galactica, McCluskey requested that his debate call sign be Fat Apollo, a reference to the character's weight gain. The name stuck. Fat Apollo usually appears styled in what seems to be vintage Battlestar children's pyjamas. The outfit is fashioned from bedsheets tailored for him in Taiwan.

"Our show helps people come out in costume," says Jennie. "They can come out in costume and be these characters. People love these characters. People love Fat Apollo!"

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