King of the Nerds

July 07, 2013

So I haven't written a post in a small while, and I think it is because I have been wanting to write this specific post, but was still holding onto some delusional hope that things could still turn out differently. But the fact of the matter is that I applied for King of the Nerds and didn't make the cut. I'd like to believe that I got really close to making the cut, though. It's kinda hard to tell, however, since I only ever received a single word of feedback that wasn't a canned mass-email, and when I was cut by the producers, no one bothered to tell me and relieve me of my debilitating obsessiveness. My audition went extremely well, though, and I firmly believed for a while that I was going to be selected, which is why the non-response non-selection hit me pretty hard, and I need to write this all out to hopefully purge myself of the experience, at least until next year's auditions come around... So it all started back in January with a Penny Arcade news post (as things often do) recommending that I check out this new reality show King of the Nerds, which they originally anticipated to be some snickering satire of nerd culture but ended up being rather celebratory and elevating. Most of the time. My hot wife and I both enjoyed the initial proceedings and signed up with the show for the long haul. It rarely disappointed (the most notable disappointment being the "bitter jury" vote at the end), and pretty early on we both decided that I should definitely apply to be on season 2. As soon as the show was picked up for a second season and they sent out a call for applications, I was out making a video. Now, I've applied a couple times to be on Survivor, simply because Survivor is the greatest social game ever devised, and I would absolutely love to be a part of it and experience playing the game. But I am not actually a very athletic person, and am, in fact, a giant nerd (case in point: I write a blog about programming, board game development and D&D), so King of the Nerds did seem to be more my speed. Plus I don't really fit the bill of dunderhead swimsuit model that Survivor usually casts. Nerds sometimes sneak onto the show and do really well (Cochran: the true King of the Nerds), but that is very much the exception and not the rule. Anyway, I was talking about King of the Nerds. I applied, and, if you're really curious, you can find my audition video here. I have mixed feelings about that video. I think it's pretty good, but it probably could have been a lot better. I did it kind of fast because for some reason, I thought that getting it in a soon as possible would be better. But there it was, all submitted and everything. I obsessed for about a week or so checking how many views it got on Vimeo, trying to deduce if the number of views was good or bad, but I eventually forgot about it and went on with my life. Until 3 months later when I got an email from some casting dude telling me that I was moving on to the next step. I had established my nerd cred in the video and now they wanted more information. It was obviously a mass-email. I had no idea what percentage of applicants had moved on or even then if my chances of actually getting on the show were anything greater than minuscule, but it was certainly farther than I had ever gotten with Survivor. Over the next couple weeks, I complied with the King of the Nerds casting requests. I sent them a mock wiki page detailing my personality and accomplishments. I had a 20-minute phone conversation with a casting agent. I sent them a bunch of nerdy childhood photos. Then they wanted a 30-second video of me dancing around? Strange, but okay. Now, I don't know about you, looking at all that stuff from a more objective perspective, but from where I'm sitting, I think I completely nailed that shit. Maybe my initial video could have been better, but it had gotten me past the initial round of casting, and then I aced every single thing they asked of me after that. More than that, I am a pretty rare breed of nerd: the physicist. Obviously there are lots of physicists and other professional scientists out in the world, but I got the distinct feeling that King of the Nerds wasn't getting all that many auditions from that section of the nerd populace. It trolled YouTube and Vimeo pretty hard for other King of the Nerds submissions and at least 95% of all the ones I found were what I have dubbed "collector nerds." These nerds really like some aspect of nerd culture and express that by buying a bunch of things - action figures, comics, manga, video games, etc. - and filling up their house with these things. And then they make videos showing you all the things that they have as a way of establishing their credentials as a nerd. And these nerds are perfectly fine, but there are a lot of them, and the show wants (I imagine) a diverse slice of nerd culture and maybe only 1 or 2 collector nerds (if any) will make it on the show. But 1 or 2 scientists (or more, judging from last season) will also make it on the show, so if there are 50 times as many collectors as there are scientists, then my chances are 50 times better than if I were a collector. Plus I nailed it, guys. I totally nailed it. So when I sent in the video of me dancing - the last thing they requested - and I got a single word response from the casting people: "LOVE!", I was pretty stoked. And then my hot wife asked me, if they never got back to me, if "LOVE" were the last thing I were to ever get from them and I didn't get on the program, would it be that bad to end on a high note? To which I responded, "YES, that would be terrible." To know that I nailed this dumb audition and still didn't make it would be crushing. And, of course, that is exactly what happened. Two months later, and no other response from King of the Nerds. Of course, at this point I'm not expecting a response. Filming starts next week and no amount of justification and hypothetical situations of extenuating circumstances my brain can concoct (my brain got really good at this after a month of hearing nothing from them) will convince me that I even have the smallest of chances of getting on at this point. But still, even a mass-emailed rejection letter would have been nice a couple weeks ago. It would have saved me at least those couple weeks of harrowing dejection. Because I am okay knowing I didn't make it, but that state of limbo is the absolute worst. Oh well! I can get back on with my life now. I'll watch season 2 when it premieres next year and try really hard not to resent the scientific nerds who did get selected to be on the show. Because nobody likes a bitter jury.


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