Technology with attitude

Review: Simon Pegg’s ‘Nerd Do Very Well’


This isn’t going to be the typical Simon Pegg story, about how a British, nerdy, not-too-handsome guy somehow overcame the odds to become a celebrity in England then charmed the pants off the cynical Tinsel town set. That’s bullocks anyway.

Simon Pegg with cricket bat.
Simon Pegg takes a swing at telling his life story (so far!) in Nerd Do Well.

It also isn’t going to be the run-of-the-mill book review. You know the one about an autobiography chocked full of woe-is-me, look-at-me, pretty-please-adore-me kind of drivel, so common to biographies churned out by cable news talking heads and “precious” Hollywood dilettantes.

Because Nerd Do Well isn’t your typical book. And Simon Pegg is too clever to write those kinds of books anyway.

At its heart, this is a story about a boy and his robot. Sure, there’s a lot of great stuff about Simon Pegg, and (without spoiling the best stuff) the narrative traces his early years in Britain, the movies and shows that shaped his humor (The Young Ones) and geek world view (Six Million Dollar Man, Star Wars, and George Romero’s zombie films), but I kept coming back to Canterbury.

That’s the robot sidekick in the fictional story Pegg intersperses between the vignettes of his stand-up comedy experiences and acting gigs on Big Train, Spaced, Star Trek, and, finally, Shaun of the Dead. This Canterbury tale, written when Pegg was procrastinating writing Nerd Do Well, serves to explain the gulf between his imagination (where everything is rollicking and fun) and the far less glamorous reality in show business. It’s not all award shows and Comic-Cons, alas, no matter what they tell you.

When you strip away fun and funny from the book, what you’re left with is every kid’s underdog story: Pegg dreamed of working alongside of his childhood heroes (Steven Spielberg, Romero, and Kevin Smith) and through soul-wrenching hard work, faith, and a couple lucky breaks, he made it come true.

Full of DIY spunk and can-do indie spirit, it’s exactly the kind of story we need right now–even if you don’t have a dream about owning robot, manor with a quasi Bat Cave, or high-tech jet.

Disclaimer: This review was written by a diehard Pegg admirer, all of the way back to Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, and my notes were saved to a Star Trek flash drive, which I earned by eating way too much Rice Crispies and Strawberry-flavored Frosted Mini Wheats. So, yeah, I geeked out a lot reading this book.

Buy Nerd Do Well here.