There's a scene in 1984's Revenge of the Nerds where Ted McGinley throws a brick through a window of the Tri-Lams' frat home with a note attached. It says "Nerds get out." A puzzled Asian nerd asks, "What is 'nerd?'" His white brother solemnly responds, "We are," acknowledging that they are the worst thing in the universe and that no creature is lower than they. I went to the New York Comic Con this weekend to ask if the biggest nerds I could find could point me in the direction of the biggest nerds they could find. In the end I think the biggest nerd of all was me, because I kept farting uncontrollably. The first person I talked to was a man who attends conventions dressed as a banana with some sort of other costume on top of that.
I see that today you're dressed as an Indiana Jones Banana.
Can you tell me about the biggest nerd you've seen here?
I think the biggest nerds here are the ones in the suits and ties. They're not dropping the corporate façade for the sake of the event. Anybody that's here dressed as a Jedi or an anime character or a superhero, they're the cool people. They're the ones who're letting themselves have fun and not being uptight about it–Oh, hi there! [someone dressed as Jack Sparrow with a lightsaber is touching his hat]
Jack Sparrow: Hi, I'm just checking out your hat.
C.C.: Hi, I'm Indiana Banana.
Jack Sparrow: You're Indiana Banana? Well, I'm Jedi Master Sparrow. How are you?
C.C.: I'm all right!
Jack Sparrow: May the rum be with you!
C.C.: Thanks man!
Are you excited about Indiana Jones 4?
It's gonna change the world. It's been what 18, 27 years since the last installment. Harrison Ford, God bless his soul, he's 89 years old this year. Senior citizens having adventures and not breaking bones, that's what I want to see.
Vice: Who was the biggest nerd you saw here today?
Matt: Hmmmm….Oh! This one guy was unbelievable. He's an albino with a long ponytail and acid-washed jeans. I'm not making fun of him, but I wanted to take his picture so I asked him and he didn't say anything, he just looked at me with intense hatred and started breathing heavily. I backed away. Otherwise this is pretty standard. Lots of people in costumes.
Did you see the Jack Sparrow Jedi up there?
Yeah. It's not exactly consistent but I dig it.
OK, what's the best thing you've seen today?
I think that would be the freeform lightsaber fight that I saw onstage today.
Did anybody get hurt?
I only got a small sense of the hubbub, but there's something amazing about characters from 8 million science fiction worlds inexplicably battling each other with lightsabers.
Vice: Just so everybody's on the same page, you are dressed as Zatanna, daughter of magician superhero Zatara. Who would you describe as the biggest nerd at the show?
Zatanna: That's a really slippery question. I think the people who have shuffled their priorities around to the point where being a geek has become detrimental to their lives. I think the people who don't have their priorities in order are the biggest geeks. I think more people here think of themselves as geeks than nerds.
What do you consider the difference between nerds and geeks?
Geeks are more into entertainment things whereas nerds are more into intellectual things. [artist sheepishly presents her with a pencil rendering of Zatanna] Oh that's beautiful! That's very nice. [he walks away]
Are you actually a big Zatanna fan, or is it more she's just a good costume option for girls?
I wouldn't wear the costume if I didn't like the character. I have the DC Encyclopedia and I read it for fun and I was on her Wikipedia page and I've seen her on the Batman animated series, of course. So I know her but wouldn't consider myself an expert.
Do people recognize you as the character or do they just think you're dressed as a magician's assistant?
People outside of here wouldn't know but everyone here knows who I'm supposed to be.
Are people ever impolite to you at the conventions?
Sometimes I notice that people are taking my photo without asking me but that's really the worst that it gets. [good-looking black guy with glasses asks for a photo and they pose like she's zapping him with her wand]
Later I ran into a man wearing a shimmery silver outfit. I chased after him so I could ask him questions.
Vice: What's your name?
Set Free: I'm Set Free.
What's going on with all the silver?
[looking at his own outfit] I like how the light catches it.
You're like a human disco ball.
I AM like a human disco ball. If you're going to spread something passionately and with vigor and make it something that anybody can enjoy and one of those things is a party.
Who would you consider the biggest nerd here?
…That's hard to pinpoint. Being a nerd is about how much you like something and how much you know the aspects of it when you get into the most easily exchanged aspects of it and without the connotations, you know?
Sorry, you completely lost me there. How do you define nerd?
It's a small oddly-shaped candy made by the Wonka Factory.
And what's the name of this store?
This is Griffon's Claw Armory. It's a conglomerate effort. We had three separate companies and then we decided to pool our resources.
How long have you been into swords?
I've been into the medieval recreation and the renaissance faire thing since I was a kid. I started out reading Tolkien like every other fantasy guy in the world and I liked to collect knives and swords myself. I just thought they were neat. I heard something great on a TV show about swords the other day: The blade is the only necessary tool that you're body doesn't provide you with naturally.
We've got teeth.
You can chew through stuff and skin things off with your fingernails but you can't, for example, dress a deer with your teeth and your fingernails. You can't cut rope with your teeth, not conveniently. You can hammer with your hands, you can twist stuff, you can turn things, but cutting though anything thicker than a piece of twine you can't do without a sharp edge. As a matter of fact a blade was the first tool invented by man. A piece of flint with a sharp edge was the first tool.
What about that scene in 2001 where the monkey smashes that skeleton?
Well, someone may have hit someone with a rock before the sharpened edge but that's a weapon, not really a tool.
OK, I am not going to ask you about nerds because you are a huge guy who makes swords.