If we were hanging out in high school with Amy Poehler or Steve Carell today, they’d obviously be the most popular people there—and no one would question their presence as long as they had an undercover haircut! But most of the people who make us laugh now had slightly (or majorly) awkward adolescent experiences. Luckily for us, a lot of them have documented it in their own books. We rounded up a few funny people whose memoirs reveal awesomely dorky or nerdy teenage years. Prepare yourself: Star Wars references are coming.
Mindy Kaling (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?)
The best thing Mindy Kaling writes in her entire book is this: Don’t peak in high school. (Peaking in clown college is also a bad idea, guys.) She then goes on to explain what she did in high school, which was join academic clubs, discuss grad school plans at the age of 14, learn Latin, and write her own sketches featuring the “Gap Girls” from Saturday Night Live. She also renames an ex-boyfriend Peter Parker at one point, which is awesome and reminds us that we call dibs on the alias Mortimer Toynbee for use in our memoir.
Mike Birbiglia (Sleepwalk With Me)
Birbigs currently boasts serious cred among NPR nerds thanks to his frequent stints on This American Life, but even back in the day, he was a self-described “dorky nerd” who performed ill-advised rap parodies at DARE assemblies and awful impressions of the Saturday Night Live “Annoying Man.” No wonder Joss Whedon got so territorial about his movie.
Simon Pegg (Nerd Do Well)
The title of Simon Pegg’s autobiography, Nerd Do Well, should put to rest any suspicions that he was a meathead jock in high school. But just in case you’re skeptical, know that the book reveals Pegg’s theater nerd roots, video game obsessions, and a whole lot of Star Wars love. Some ‘70s kids might’ve had a fake lightsaber, but Pegg was so distraught over missing the opening night of Return of the Jedi due to a minor operation that his mom bought him a new Biker Scout figure to keep him company in the hospital, as he rewatched the first of the trilogy. Plus, there was that whole thing where he kissed a photo of Carrie Fisher every night before he went to bed. (In his defense, at least it wasn’t a photo of Emperor Palpatine.)
Tina Fey (Bossypants)
Besides the minor Y chromosome and British nationality details, Simon Pegg and Tina Fey aren’t all that different. Both were big on community theater as teens and both were hugely into the saga of Luke Skywalker. (We know this must come as a shock, given the whole Princess Leia wedding dress on 30 Rock.) But Fey also rocked a style that can only be described as dorky chic -- she proudly describes the moment she flaunted a white denim suit as she accepted the Sunday School Scholarship at the Senior Awards Night as when she “knew she was a woman.”
Patton Oswalt (Zombie Spaceship Wasteland)
Patton Oswalt’s passion for Dungeons and Dragons has already been hilariously documented, but he goes into details of the game that consumed much of his middle and high school existence (as well as some of his late thirties—what he calls “the most gentle, sedentary midlife crisis on record”) in Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. The last D&D character he ever played, Ulvaak, even gets his own epic poem, featuring all the lyrical weight of The Odyssey and all the geekery of costumed LAN party.
Are you a nerd? What will be the title of your funny memoir?