The actor who played Portlandia’s “Brian the nerd” responds:

Reprinted with permission:

Hi there, I am the actor who played Brian on Portlandia (no Brian isn’t my real name, it was a scripted sketch.) First things first, Brian is a fictional character, he is not me. Not that I’m saying you think so, but I’ve seen a lot of people on the net who think Brian P. is an actual person, the similarities between us are only about skin deep (other than a love of TNG and SCA eventing).

Honestly I agree with much of what you have to say, the concept of nerd/geek has evolved socially from the stigma that used to define it to the point where it’s okay now to identify or express oneself in “nerdy” ways without drawing vitriol and ridicule, at least from without. I also believe that neither gender nor body type should be reason to exclude anyone from a group and that a person should be proud of who they are as a whole rather than just one aspect of themselves.

That being said, as I saw it the sketch was more meant to be a satire, subverting the whole “Nerd pride/’fake geek girl’/ ‘no true nerd’” notion in general, the character on screen is acting out of severe shame and guilt rather than pride and indignation. And, while in retrospect I definitely see why it comes across that way, the sketch, as far as I understand, wasn’t meant to be aimed at women or any other specific gender for that matter, but at “fakes” in general, the proverbial “hipster nerd”. The casting director actually said he had wanted to cast female nerds to be part of the flank at the end of the scene, but due to time constraints among other factors was unable to wrangle any before the morning of filming.

If you have any questions I’m more than willing to respond to them (within reason) and if you’d like me to verify my identity I’m willing to do that as well (either by facebook message or something of the like, whatever works.)


Ryver H.

P.S. The hat I’m wearing is one I actually own and wear regularly, and it’s a type of homburg, not a fedora. The goggles are also mine. For reference:


  1. dickhoel reblogged this from pollums
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  5. pungeon-mistress reblogged this from hello-the-future and added:
    wasn’t aimed at geek girls and...still take issue with having “fake geeks”
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    into even greater relief- If there had been any kind...female representation of...
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Nicole Dieker. Freelance copywriter. Essayist (The Toast, Yearbook Office, Boing Boing, The Billfold). Occasional nerd musician. Every week I post how much money I earn writing.

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