Armstrong, center, cohosts the TBS reality series 'King of the Nerds.' (TBS)
Everything Curtis Armstrong learned about being a nerd, he learned in Metro Detroit.
“I was a total nerd on a lot of levels,” said the book-loving Berkley High School and Oakland University graduate, who got his big break as Dudley “Booger” Dawson in “Revenge of the Nerds.” “I’m a classic movie nerd. I’m a vinyl records nerd. I have been a nerd my whole life.”
“Revenge of the Nerds” turned 30 this summer. The cult comedy classic also launched Armstrong’s prolific career as a character and voice actor. His two-dozen film credits include “Ray” and “Akeelah and the Bee.” And he’s enjoyed TV roles on shows such as “Moonlighting,” “Dan Vs.” “Scandal” “Robot and Monster” “Supernatural” and “New Girl.”
His association with the “Revenge of the Nerds” movie franchise also helped Armstrong and his former costar Robert Carradine, who played Lewis Skolnick, create the TBS reality competition “King of the Nerds.” The two serve as executive producers and hosts on the series, which returns for a third season early next year.
But it’s his days as a science fiction freak and college student that stick with Armstrong, 60, he said during a “King of the Nerds” set visit in Pasadena, California.
“In 1984, there was no gaming as we know it. There was no Comic Con as we know it,” said the diehard “Star Trek” fan, before recalling his experiences at the 1973 Detroit Triple Fan Fair convention at a downtown Hilton that no longer exists. “Nerds have the ability to express themselves in a way they didn’t before.”
Nerds also have less access. While at Detroit Triple Fan Fair, Armstrong met stars George Takei, Walter Koenig and the late James Doohan.
For the uninitiated, Detroit Triple Fan Fair was a multi-genre convention in the city from 1965-78. And back then, comic book nerds actually attended such events with boxes of their own comic books. Meanwhile, “Star Trek” conventions piggybacked on other geek fests and weren’t the mammoth exhibitions they are now.
“There was no line. You could sit there all afternoon and ask questions,” Armstrong said of his “Star Trek” meet and greet nearly 41 years ago. “They were wonderful and disarming.”
Armstrong is just as approachable.
He engages fans on Twitter and smiles heartily when fans affectionately call him Booger. The husband and father parodied his “Revenge of the Nerds” days in a recurring voice role on “American Dad,” in which he played a character named Snot.
Although he lives in Los Angeles, Armstrong said he loves coming back to the city that helped make him what he is today. In 2011, his role in “Sparkle” allowed him to work in the city he holds near and dear to his heart.
“You can take the nerd out of Detroit but you can’t take the Detroit out of the nerd,” he said.
Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer.