At New York Comic Con 2013, we got the chance of a lifetime to sit down with Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong, Host’s of TBS’s ‘King of the Nerds’. We picked their brains and got some great info about the show. And we gushed over ‘Revenge of the Nerds’, of course. Up first is the audio of our interview with Robert and Curtis, followed by a transcription (somewhat paraphrased), then we got to interview Genevieve, season 1 finalist turned season 2 challenge consultant, and Josh, who won the Peoples Nerd contest to be a season 2 contestant.
Robert and Curtis
Nerds in Hell: I know you’re both executive producers, was it your idea to do the show? Was it your baby?
Robert Carradine: We had tried to create it about 7 years ago, but it didn’t quite take then. So just as a fluke I called Curtis in the summer of 2010, and said “Maybe we should try this again”,and this time when we went to Electus, our production partner, they begged us not to take it anywhere else. “Just give us a few days”, so they really loved it. They loved the whole idea of it.
Nerds in Hell: It’s a really unique show, and I’m wondering if TBS gives you a lot of freedom with that, or are they there with you holding your hand every step of the way.
Curtis Armstrong: We got it to a point where it developed to where it is now. Our production partners are people that have had a lot of experience in reality, which we haven’t. Neither of us had anything to do with reality television before. So there were things we didn’t realized worked or didn’t work and so on. So our production partners have don “Survivor”, and all of these different reality shows, so they know all that stuff. By the time we got to air, we had developed it to the point where TBS really didn’t have that much, I mean, they have notes, naturally, but the basic overall thing is pretty much set. So it just becomes working out before we even cast, what the challenges are, is the big deal.
Nerds in Hell: Do you guys have a favorite challenge of all time?
Robert Carradine: I’d say my favorite challenge of all time is coming up in season 2, but of course we can’t talk about that.
Curtis Armstrong: First season, Maybe because I’m a theater nerd at heart, but I loved the musical one where they came up with the nerd anthem. I thought that one was fabulous.
Robert Carradine: They were off the charts with that one.
Nerds in Hell: Watching the show, I tried to put myself in their shoes, and I see that one as something I could never, ever do.
Curtis Armstrong: This is the thing I love about it, it’s so out of control, and they have to do it in such a short amount of time.
Robert Carradine: They did that over night, really astonishing.
Nerds in Hell: I will admit, in the first episode, when you gave the speech about being picked last, I got a little sentimental, a little teary eyed.
Curtis Armstrong: The one thing that Bobby and I have emphasized from the beginning is that, whatever they wanted to do, wherever they wanted to go with it, they had to remember Bobby’s speech from the end of “Revenge of the Nerds”
Nerds in Hell: That was actually the caption to our first podcast, we quoted that speech.
Robert Carradine: Really? wow.
Nerds in Hell: You guys pretty much inspired us to do what we love without worrying about the backlash. Just doing what we want. We’re nerds.
Curtis Armstrong: That is the essence of it. It’s competitive, and it gets heated, but ultimately, we treat the nerds like human beings. That’s the whole point of the speech at the end of the movie. And so that’s what we always focus on.
Nerds in Hell: The 30th anniversary of the movie is coming up, and I was wondering if when you were making it, did you see it as something that was going to be so significant to people, or did you see yourselves as future role models. Or was it just a surprise that this fun movie you made touched so many people?
Robert Carradine: We had no idea, I wish we had.
Curtis Armstrong: I had no idea. It’s constantly amazing to me. It was like a series of discoveries. We thought it was just going to open and close. We weren’t taking into account cable, which was still new, or VHS which was barely starting. So it would go on cable and run there forever, and then it came out on VHS and sold all over. So it just had this life that we weren’t expecting. Because I, anyway, was thinking in terms of movies being something you watched on TV at night once they had their run in the theaters. No idea it would would wind up where it is.
Robert Carradine: Now with Netflix and all these other platforms, it goes on and on and on.
Nerds in Hell: Will we see any cameos from your co-stars in the movie on the show as guest judges?
Robert Carradine: There seems to be a clairvoyant aspect to this interview!
Curtis Armstrong: We have some guest judges this year, but we aren’t going to say who they are. We’ll get in trouble.
Nerds in Hell: I guess we’ll leave it at that, then. Thank you guys so much for your time, this was amazing.
Next up, we have Genevieve and Josh:
Genevieve and Josh
Nerds in Hell: Genevieve, being a season 1 contestant must have given you a unique insight to consult on the challenges of season 2. Is it going to be a lot more grueling this time around?
Genevieve Pearson: It’s going to be a different kind of challenge this time around. We’re definitely reaching into the nerd subcultures, and they’re really going to have to buckle down and study. I wanted to bring in challenges where they have to learn it.
Nerds in Hell: Josh, what was it like when you found out you won the peoples nerd vote?
Josh Wittenkeller: It’s funny because it didn’t quite strike me right away. Somebody can tell you you’re on “King of the Nerds”, but it’s not until you’re actually there when you realize that this is going to be something special.
Nerds in Hell: Did you cry when you stepped onto campus?
Josh Wittenkeller: I didn’t quite cry, but there was definitely some… wind in my eyes. I hat to brush them.
Genevieve Pearson: You have to realize that their Nerdvana is way awesome. That’s not a very articulate way to say it, but its the only way I can say it. It’s bigger and better than it was. And we had a cool Nerdvana!
Nerds in Hell: Oh, it’s different this time?
Josh Wittenkeller: I had a mental image of their Nerdvana. I didn’t realize they were bringing us to this newly revamped 2.0-vana.
Genevieve Pearson: Nerdvana redux.
Josh Wittenkeller: It’s very epic.
Nerds in Hell: Genevieve, did you have a favorite challenge in season 1?
Genevieve Pearson: I loved the engineering challenge when we got to build by ourselves. And also the nerd anthem challenge was a lot of fun, because I always dreamed of making parody songs. I used to write parody songs in my free time. I wrote a good one about Battlestar Galactica once that’s on youtube for people who want to find it. And so I was really excited to work with an actual music producer. I didn’t like the dancing, but I liked the singing part.
Nerds in Hell: Have you made up with Kevin Smith?
Genevieve Pearson: Here’s the question, has Kevin Smith made up with me.
Nerds in Hell: Do you think “The Throne of Games” defines what being a nerd is? Should it be all games, have they considered keyboards or computers or a superhero throne?
Genevieve Pearson: I’m of the opinion where I have the nerd/geek/dork more traditional aspect where I feel the nerd is somebody who has some unique pop culture interest, but is a well rounded academic person who loves to learn. I feel like the “Throne of Games” represents that because it represents a wide variety of different games and you have to learn them, but I’m more of an academic.
Nerds in Hell: Who’s your favorite Batman?
Genevieve Pearson: Of course the one from the animated series, Kevin Conroy. Come on! No contest. But Terry McGinnis is fun too.
Nerds in Hell: What can we look forward to this season?
Genevieve Pearson: This season we can look forward to bigger and better challenges and some really awesome guest judges with great nerd cred. One of my childhood idols is a guest judge, I can’t tell you who.
Nerds in Hell: A funny side note about the first season was the amount of drinking you guys did.
Genevieve Pearson: You say that like I was the one doing all the drinking! I say it was the orange team. I say it breaks down to the orange team was the extrovert team, and the blue team were the introverts. But yes, they did like to imbibe. Which a lot of nerds do.
Josh Wittenkeller: From what I gathered in season 2, there’s not quite as much copious consumption of alcohol. It’s definitely a factor, but I feel like they (season 1) was like “lets get drunk, day 1. let’s just remove ourselves from this. The competition is too heavy”. We were too good friends early in to start hitting the heavy drinking from the get go.
Nerds in Hell: A lot of camaraderie then, not so much drama?
Josh Wittenkeller: Well, the drama will come. A bit more camaraderie, at least in the beginning.
And there you have it! Life long dream accomplished. Can’t wait to see the new Nerdvana when ‘King of the Nerds Season 2’ returns to TBS on Thursday, January 23rd at 10/9 Central. Really excited to see the new competitors, and find out what new challenges Genevieve came up with.
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