Book Review: Nerd Do Well – Simon Pegg

Nerd Do Well
About Nerd Do Well (2010)
Nerd Do WellZombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times. Having blasted onto the small screens with his now legendary sitcom Spaced, his rise to the UK’s favourite son status has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronnic, but mostly just plain great.

From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with Star Wars, his often passionate friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up which began with his regular Monday morning slot in front of his 12-year-old classmates, this is a joyous tale of a homegrown superstar and a loval boy made good.

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Review: Nerd Do Well

I first saw Simon Pegg in the cult comedy Spaced (1999-2001) and the series became one of my favourites. Pegg’s career has flourished since then with successful forays onto the big screen with his own work such as Shaun of the Dead (2004) and appearances in the likes of Mission Impossible and Star Trek. He’s one of the UK’s best comedy talents so the prospect of his life story was too good to resist.

Nerd Do Well is befitting of the proud geek that Pegg is (I’m a geek too incidentally so I’m not insulting him!) There is a loose chronology to Pegg’s life interposed with a highly amusing short story of a superhero called Simon Pegg and his robot assistant Canterbury, which breaks up the story brilliantly. Pegg crams a lot into the book’s 350 pages or so beginning with his birth in Gloucestershire, his early passion for drama and of course how he hit the big time.

Pegg gives a fascinating account of his early life which is heavy on the laughs but also throws in some sombre moments, especially the friend of a childhood friend who dies after being hit by a car when Pegg was just a boy. The adult Pegg still picturing this boy as he remembers him certainly hits hard. We also gain an insight into Pegg’s early sexual experiences despite his insistence that this isn’t that kind of book! Pegg’s love of drama came from his mother who was in a theatre group while his father was in a band, but their son would one day go even further with his talent, surviving many schools, failed exams but discovering his true calling with acting.

The geek in Pegg is most evident with the chapters he devotes entirely to Star Wars and, believe me, our humble comedian has a lot to say. I smiled at his fond memories of seeing the first trilogy and grimaced at his pained account of getting a plane to New York, struggling to find a theatre, and sitting subdued as The Phantom Menace destroyed his belief in this saga he had loved for so many years. Pegg would translate this despair into the series Spaced but there are some fascinating accounts following this including a meeting with George Lucas and Pegg queuing up to meet Carrie Fisher at a convention despite promoting work of his own! A star in his own right being starstruck by Princess Leia was brilliant!

Nerd Do Well frequently had me in hysterics. The short story involving the undoubtedly handsome superhero Simon Pegg is the funniest bit of the book. The only downside is that Pegg is so humble he merely glosses over his career and doesn’t offer much detail. The book is primarily about everything that led to him being the star he is today. The good thing is Pegg’s early life, full of joy, woe, friendship and difficult relationships is never dull but it would have been great to hear more about the work he has honoured so many fans with, especially Spaced.

Nerd Do Well is a good account of how a Gloucestershire boy who was an undoubted geek found a haven in comedy and became a big star in the process. While Pegg’s lack of arrogance may hinder some parts of the book this is still an enthralling autobiography from one of the UK’s greatest exports.

Verdict: 4/5

(Book source: reviewer’s own purchase)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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  1. Thanks for the review! This book has been on my to-read list for quite a while and I'm happy to know it's a good one. I'm a huge Simon Pegg fan and this book will be icing on the cake.

  2. I've read a lot of Donna's reviews, David, but this is the first of yours I've scrolled past and what a review it is. Ever since I saw Shawn of the Dead I fell in love with Simon Pegg's sense of humour. Such a brilliant insight into what makes comedy genuinely funny. I'm an autobiography fan, however, I didn't even know this title existed. A must read in my eyes! Thank you sincerely for the review!

    1. My pleasure BJ. I'm glad the review was useful to you. I first saw Simon Pegg in Spaced which is an amazing comedy. He's one of the best from the UK that's for sure :) If you try the book I hope you enjoy it.

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