Help Bring Back Beat the Geeks—But Better. Ubergeek.

paulgoebel
Image credit: Ubergeek Kickstarter

If you were watching Comedy Central back in 2001, you may remember a show called Beat the Geeks. It featured a movie geek, a TV geek, a music geek, and a guest who specialized in a specific category for that episode, like a James Bond geek or a Michael Jackson geek (whom you can see in the clip below). Paul Goebel, the weekly TV geek, wants to bring back the idea of the geek game show in Ubergeek.

“Being the TV Geek was one of the best experiences of my life,” Goebel said, “and I feel that if the show was on TV today it might not fit in with what people now think of as a geek.” As he points out in the Kickstarter description page, there’s plenty of programming for… well, I’ll use his words: “celebrating the idiocy of idiots.”

“I wanted to make a show that challenges people who say ‘I’m a car nerd’ or ‘I’m a sports geek’ by proving that geeks are really only geeky about one thing… knowledge. Not just about one subject but about everything,” he said.

He’s pitched the show to a few people who weren’t sure that anyone would get it. Then he teamed up with Brock LaBorde, writer and producer of comedy and game shows. They decided that with a funded pilot, they would have both a great piece to use to sell the show as well as the evidence of the backers that there are people interested in watching it.

At GeekMom, we like to hear people’s geek origin stories, so I asked Goebel about his, which started with the premiere of Sesame Street in 1969, which also happened to be the year Goebel “premiered” on this planet, so to speak. “My generation was the first to grow up watching TV,” he said. “We were also latchkey kids, so after we got home and did our homework, we watched reruns of Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, The Monkees, Get Smart, and then we’d go to see amazing films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. By the time we were in our twenties we had played every video game in the arcade and every home system from Atari 2600 to Super Nintendo. Shortly after we grew up, the Internet was born, so unlike earlier generations, we had to stay geeky to survive in the digital age. Compared to our parents, we WERE superheroes.”

The Ubergeek Kickstarter is seeking $15,000 by June 22, with backer rewards ranging from shoutouts on Twitter to attending the live taping, to potential spots as a contestant. At the top of the tower is producer credit with creative input on the show.

Given the explosion of ostensibly geek-friendly content on TV that often turns out to be geek-offensive instead, I asked Goebel what he thought had been the best and the worst shows for geeks. “Without giving any context at all,” he answered, “Best, Star Trek: TOS. Worst, any show with the word ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ in the title.”

By day, Ruth works to make open source software communities better. The rest of the time, she makes things, which means her husband and kids know to watch out for stray sewing pins and to ask before eating anything made of fondant.