MONTREAL — The Tribute to Nerds gala ended up being one of my favorite extravaganzas of the fest so far, and that’s not just because I happen to carry around something of a constant nerd boner. Was every comedian that performed here a total babe? Yeah, I would definitely assert that conclusion, but the show itself was so jam-packed with creativity, ferocity and of course hilarity that it would be hard to imagine not loving every minute under any physical appearance circumstances.
Hosted by Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, stars of CBS’s mega hit The Big Bang Theory, the show brought together a culmination of nerds across the comedy spectrum – painting them as comic book super heroes against an elaborate projected backdrop. Each comic took to the stage and recounted his particular experiences as a nerd. Brian Posehn’s goal of turning his new son into a fellow nerd was an especially humorous and heartwarming bit of stand-up; Dan Mintz’s deadpan and thoroughly Steven Wright-ian delivery just about filled the aisles with convulsing audience members. Great, too, were fellow performers Kumail Nanjiani, who reflected on the logical fallacies of Harry Potter (seriously, turns out that franchise is not as realistic as we were lead to believe); Chris Hardwick, he of the Nerdist podcast legacy, was also expectedly solid; and Sammy J and Randy provided some unusual, Muppet-like flair, realizing through song that both Sammy J (the comedian) and Randy (the puppet) were dating the same two-timing tramp.
But I think my favorite was Mark Little, an adorably modest performer whose self-proclaimed “comedy valleys” were actually part of the show’s peak; not at all low points. Little gets bonus props for keeping the steam going by proving that his nerdiness has been embraced and exuded. He doesn’t just talk about nerdy things: he is a nerd, and a damn great one, at that. Even in the face of some unfortunate technical difficulties, which left the hosts taking questions from the audience to stall for time (and proving their considerable stand-up chops while at it), the nerds show was, I might venture to conclude, the greatest song in the world AND a tribute.