SF Sketchfest: Chris Hardwick Giddily Hosts Revenge of the Nerds 30-Year Reunion
By Brian Janosch
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Booger’s belch in Revenge of the Nerds is actually the sound of a camel climaxing. There. Now you, too, are cursed — or blessed, if you’re into that sort of thing — with the same knowledge as the audience from Saturday’s SF Sketchfest Revenge of the Nerds reunion. Curtis Armstrong, who played Booger (and who can currently be seen as Principal Foster on New Girl), revealed that little piece of foley magic at San Francisco’s Castro Theater, and nobody was more thrilled to hear it than the evening’s moderator, Chris Hardwick.
The Nerdist and @Midnight host unleashed his inner 12-year-old on the crowd, displaying an unfiltered giddiness onstage as he interacted with seven stars from the film that played a formative role in his youth. In addition to Armstrong, Timothy Busfield (Arnold Poindexter), Robert Carradine (Lewis Skolnick), Andrew Cassese (Harold Wormser), Julia Montgomery (Betty Childs), Larry B. Scott (Lamar Latrell), and Brian Tochi (Toshiro Takashi) all turned out to share stories of the seminal movie — only some of them animal-orgasm-related.
Hardwick, who spent half the reunion perched atop his chair back like an overeager grade schooler, opened the evening reflecting on the significance of the 1984 film, especially now in the pop-culture era of Abed, the Big, Bang Theory, and where reflecting on anything for more than fifteen minutes officially qualifies as “nerding out.” “There wasn’t any word for it at the time,” Hardwick said. “And even after this movie, it took Hollywood a long time to come around to nerds.”
Everyone on the panel told the tale of how they got their part, with Busfield and Carradine each relating similar stories of visiting thrift stores and optometrists to find the right glasses for their audition. Carradine even went so far as getting the haircut he has in the movie just to read for the part. Cassese, however, was a child actor at the time and made it clear, “I didn’t have to go get glasses or a haircut, because those were my glasses and that was my haircut.”
Why didn’t anybody opt for the nerd archetype of taped-up glasses? “Any self-respecting nerd would take care of their glasses,” Carradine said.
Scott admitted his concern with how the movie, and specifically his ultragay-especially-for-1984 character Lamar, would be received, but ultimately he said he was happy to read for a part that didn’t call for the line, “I’m gonna cut you, man.” Perhaps that’s because the film achieved its eighties racial-stereotyping humor quota from Tochi’s “frush”-holding, “robster craw”–eating Toshiro. A role Tochi said also sent him searching to find the perfect pair of glasses — he used his father’s — and forced him to “practice my Asian accent,” though he insists it came out sounding as much Yiddish as it does asian.
The cast reminisced fondly about how everything came together, specifically noting a two-week rehearsal period they all spent in Tucson before shooting began where the characters really developed. It was in that period when characters like Armstrong’s Booger grew from a bit part into a core component of the story.
Which is not to say that Revenge of the Nerds wasn’t shaped significantly in the editing room. An entire trip to Las Vegas was cut from the film, as well as a subplot about jock-leader Stan leading a closeted life as a nerd. It’s also there that improvised scenes like Booger and Toshiro’s first card game were left in the final cut, and eventually became among the movie’s most memorable.