Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig tells all about his foibles in fornication
Paul Feig has made a career out of his many splendid humiliations.
As the creator of the critically acclaimed TV show Freaks and Geeks, Feig plumbed his young-adult life for cringeworthy moments to forge a cult hit. His first memoir, Kick Me, chronicled his school days, when he suffered at the hands of classmates who pummeled him in the locker-room showers and he fretted over his first kiss coming from a date who had just vomited.
His new memoir, Superstud (Three Rivers, $13.95), chronicles all of the romantic mishaps that led to the late arrival of his deflowering at 24.
"I definitely did not set out to feed off my pain," says Feig, 44, over the phone from his Los Angeles home. "I've always found the stories of others going through painful things to be the funniest stuff. I just realized that my stories were more tragic and humiliating than other people's, and that I had an endless supply of them."
There are certainly enough to fill the 300 pages of Superstud, a funny, candid look at the origins and evolution of the author's sexual hang-ups. Some of the stories have that exaggerated nonfiction feel of a David Sedaris or a Sarah Vowell piece, but there are tales here too embarrassing to be worth fabrication.
Feig begins with his second-grade self discovering the joys of masturbation while climbing a rope in gym class. He dubs the sensation "the rope feeling," and he sets about making himself feel like he's rope climbing just about whenever he wants.
Then, at 12, he and his family went on vacation to the Caribbean. His parents were strict Christian Scientists, and they tuned their hotel-room radio to an evangelical program. During a rant on morality, the DJ intoned, "Besides,everyone knows that each time you masturbate, God takes one day off of your life." To the impressionable Feig, it was practically a death sentence.
"I think the religion you grow up in affects who you are more than you think," says Feig, who adds he's too much of a "science geek" to believe Christian Science now. "It sets up whatever hang-ups or repressions you have and lays this weird foundation you carry around with you."
Aside from attempting to get laid, smashing the foundation of his parents' religion provides the underlying tension in Feig's story. Often, he interrupts his shaggy- dog stories for a back-and-forth with God about the merits and drawbacks of, say, onanism.
Despite the religious roadblocks, Feig pursued the loss of virginity with a raging fervor. In a chapter titled "The Annotated Nancy," he reprints word-for-word diary entries he wrote during a relationship. Though Feig hints now and again at his inherent dorkiness as an adolescent, the diary is proof positive. His running commentary on the diary entries is some of the funniest writing in the book, as the older Feig clearly resents his younger version: "I want to punch myself when I read them." The teenage Feig is prone to excitement ("I received a 98% on my first German quiz. Hooray!") and loves exclamation points ("Oh, Nancy, the things I put you thru! Please don't let me mess this one up!!!!!!!").
"I was definitely a big geek in high school," Feig says now. "People tend to think you're geeky because you're into science fiction and all that kind of thing, but I think that's just the end result. To me, being a geek means you kind of aren't in sync with the social norms that everyone else is."
Feig may be a bit hard on himself. He comes across as charming and naive as a teen, the kind of kid who's probably pretty popular in the marching band.
The funniest chapter of the book is undoubtedly the most shame-inducing and, curiously, the least necessary to the book. Just before Feig recounts the loss of his innocence, he proves himself something of an adventurous self-lover. Kicking up into a handstand and then contorting his body, Feig attempted—to put it clinically—a little bit of the old autofellatio. The experiment quickly ended when he heard a loud popping sound coming from his spine—"whenever it rains, I still get a dull pain in my neck"—thankfully putting the whole episode behind Feig and the reader. It's the type of chapter that could only be written by someone without children and whose parents have passed away.
"My wife is still very upset that I wrote about that," Feig says. "I still don't know why I did. I guess it's kind of a weird gateway to how desperate I got until I lost my virginity."
Feig will embarrass himself further at Barbara's Bookstore on Wednesday 13.