Brian Posehn is a nerd. He’s a book nerd. He’s a Phantom Menace-hating Star Wars Nerd. He’s a horror movie nerd, a comic book and toy collecting nerd, and a music nerd.
But he’s also a film and television star, an accomplished writer, and a highly sought after stand-up comedian. For a nerd, that’s pretty cool.
Posehn brings his stand-up routine back to Fort Wayne on April 19 for two shows at Welch’s Ale House.
A means to survival
Readily admitting to being a nerd and proud of the distinction, Posehn said he wasn’t actually born a nerd, and isn’t sure if that is even possible. He became a nerd, rather, as a means of survival.
Coming from a broken home, Posehn was raised by his mom and escaped into books, movies, and music as a means of self-preservation, shielding himself from bullies at school, a parent that didn’t seem to like him too much, and a world in general that makes fun of anything it finds “different.”
In his recently released book, Forever Nerdy, Posehn says his first general obsession, after reading, was music, even before he collected toys and comics. Elvis was his first favorite artist, but he credits KISS for helping form him into a “full-blown nerd.
“Until KISS, I was just a kid drinking the homogenized milk that is pop music,” he said.
And KISS found him in, of all places, the library, where he was feeding his reading obsession.
“I don’t remember what I was reading that day, but it was then that I heard it, the greatest hard rock song of all time, ‘Detroit Rock City.’ I was ten and at the end of the song the car crashes and the narrator dies. Do you know how cool that was to me at that time? I know for a fact I had never heard anything that hard or aggressive before that, certainly not the Bay City Rollers. Mac Davis didn’t rock like this. So I was all in.”
As it turns out, KISS was the gateway drug Posehn needed to get into other bands like UFO, AC/DC, and Van Halen, a beginning to a lifetime obsession of hard rock and heavy metal. But there was still one more band that would have a huge impression on him, the nerdiest of all nerd bands: Rush.
“It was love at first listen,” Posehn said. “I was moved by Geddy’s voice, the words and, of course, their insane instrumental acrobatics.”
Posehn said that many of the lyrics from Rush’s 1982 album Signals helped him get through tough times.
“It was like my awesome Canadian uncles came into my room and opened my cone of sadness and sat down on my bed and dangled off and talked to me about growing up and life in a way that my mom, grandparents, therapists, and members of the Big Brother agency couldn’t,” he said. “Indirectly, they helped me with my loneliness and teen depression.”
Truth, but not cheesy
Posehn says he never had a big epiphany that he had to be a performer, but there were hints along the way. He started stand-up in 1987, at an open mic night, developing his routine on a nightly basis until he got his first paying gig.
“My comedy is so much about truth,” he said, “but not in a cheesy way. I just mean that all my stories are true, they all actually happened. I started comedy by lying, lying to my mom to make a story better or to make her laugh, and I lied to everybody at my new jobs, rewriting history like a sociopath. I got onstage as much as I could and took any road gig that came up.”
One time he even did a show in a bar where if you cursed you had to contribute money to a “swear jar.”
“I didn’t make any money that night.”
Impressive list of TV and film roles
It’d be pretty time consuming to list all of Posehn’s TV and film roles over the years, but he’s had roles on shows that you might know like Everybody Loves Raymond and Just Shoot Me and some you might not know, like when he played Eddie on The Army Show. No matter the role, Posehn always gives it his all.
“I can do dumb guy or smart guy, sweet guy and, best of all, a weird guy,” he said. “Of all the dumb, smart, or sweet guys I’ve played, almost all of them have been weird.”
This brings us to the present. Posehn’s regular recurring role on Big Bang Theory has brought him more recognition than his previously most famous part as Jimmy in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. But don’t worry; he’s not going “all Hollywood” on us.
“Stand up is still the focus now,” he said. “I act and write to stay busy, but I travel year-round performing in the best comedy clubs and just-OK rock venues. And mostly I play cities I actually want to be in, which is nice.”
Posehn’s advice for all of the nerds out there that might feel like they’ll never fit in is to “just be yourself.” It’s worked out pretty well for him. He has several jobs he loves, is considered a spokesperson for the heavy metal community, has met most of his childhood heroes including Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, three quarters of the original members of KISS, and all three members of Rush, and has a wife and son that he loves with his whole heart. How does a nerd find the perfect woman?
“Well, luck mostly, he said. “She was super out of my league, but I was just myself and she liked me for me. I got my dream girl and I get to nerd out every day and get paid for it. I couldn’t feel luckier.”
Sometimes life has a way of working itself out.
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