26: Top 5 geek things that aren’t geeky


Steve Dawson

Writer (Walliams & Friend, Saturday Night Takeaway, Big School, Dawson Bros Funtime, Mitchell and Webb), Director (Groove Armada, FoD), Host of the Mind Canyon podcast.

Comedy writer and performer Steve Dawson gets nerdy — but not really that nerdy — and talks about the culture and stereotypes around the word “geek”. But also there’s lots of stuff with lasers and electronic music.

Steve talks about the book Laughter, by Robert R Provine, which deals with in-group and out-group mentality, why we laugh and who we follow when we’re laughing, which comes into focus when we ask ourselves why certain things are cool to like, and other things just aren’t.

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Steve’s picks

In order of discussion:

Star Wars

This made the top of Steve’s list because… come on. Even if you’ve not seen Star Wars — which you have — you know enough of the basic blocks to get a surface level joke about it. And yet, knowing so much as a character name is seen as being nerdy.


Would you call Chainsmokers or the Prodigy nerds? For his second pick, Steve considers artists like Liam Howlett and the Eilishes (Billie and her brother) who make music in their bedrooms, and spend more time tweaking oscillators than “getting some fresh air”.


There seems to be a delineation between what it’s acceptable to.collect — porcelain pigs, anyone? — and what is nerdy. Steve uses this moment to confess to a certain collection which, upon reflection, hasn’t necessarily stood the test of time.


Steve’s fairly new to comic book and pop culture conventions, but enjoys the surprising family-appeal aspect. They’re places of inclusion, where people feel a bit more empowered to let their particular freak flags fly.

Knowing how to use technology

We all know the jokes around being the kid who can programme the DVD player — in our day it was the video recorder — but who now doesn’t have a tiny computer in their pocket, with access to all the world’s information? Having one, it seems, is not geeky… but knowing what to do when it goes wrong? 🤔

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

The Big Bang Theory

Mark finds it hard to accept the central premise of the show, and isn’t charmed by what Disney executives think nerd culture means.


This was only really hinted at — and there’s more discussion on the subject in the Extra Envy podcast, which you can get by becoming a supporter — but everyone has played some form of videogame, whether it’s on the Wii or in Facebook or on a mobile (on the loo).

Game of Thrones

Yes, it was the most popular show of its time and new episodes broke the Internet shortly after their release, but it has a world behind the beards and the boobs and the dragons that belies its seemingly broad appeal.

Board games

Taletop games can range from the simple to the incredibly complex. Mark mentions card games like Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity , as well as board games like Ticket to Ride , all of which have broad appeal. But shuffle the deck just a little, and you find a whole fantastic world of nerdery beneath the surface.

More of Steve Dawson

You can follow Steve on Twitter, and check out the work of the Dawson Bros (that’s Steve and his writing-partner brother), who have written for Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Walliams & Friend and Mitchell and Webb. You can — and simply must — also subscribe to the Mind Canyon podcast, a superb mix of improvised comedy and obsessive sound design.