Director JP Larocque talks about his web series, Gay Nerds
A few of my friends were talking up Gay Nerds, a webseries staring Robert Keller as Ralphie, Ryan Kerr as Sam, and Alexandra Wylie as Lana. I had to see what the buzz was about. What I discovered is a humorous and engaging look at nerd culture by way of the LGBT community. Soon after, I had a chance to sit down and have a beer with the writer and director, JP Larocque. This is the conversation we had.
Holli Gram: Where did you come up with the concept to do a web series?
JP: I am a big pop culture buff, a big fan of nerd culture and I’m gay. I found the intersection of these things interesting. There’s a lot of overlap in the community. When you’re coming into yourself, there’s something attractive in gaming culture because it’s a nice insular community [with] a sense of belonging. I thought why not make a story out of that and bring it to the web?
Holli Gram: I love the show and the fact that you started it out big with a reference to Jurassic Park.
JP: I’m a very visual writer. I start with an image. I was at my desk at work during my break and [I was] reading entertainment news about Jurassic Park 4. I thought it would be really funny to create animals or dinosaurs out of desktop items. Then it popped into my head: well, what if [the Gay Nerds] characters were doing that?
HG: I noticed in episode 3 (the Alien tribute) the character Lana says something and she is immediately corrected by Sammy. He tells her she’s hopeless. She has a touching moment where she believes her opinion is as valid as anyone else’s but the main character is like no no no–my show. How difficult was it to write?
JP: I acknowledge that the series was male-centric in the first 3 episodes. Lana and Sammy have this dynamic where when she starts speaking he shuts her down. But then at the end of the episode, she ends up saving him [with] her ability to speak to the queen. And she calls him hopeless. I was trying to comment that often in the queer community [female voices get] shut down but her voice ultimately saves him. And it’s a valid voice.
HG: Will we see more of Lana in the future?
JP: In the next season, we want to have a Lana-specific episode and hear that queer female voice very clearly.
HG: Now the music–the theme song is awesome. A lot of people are wondering where you found that.
JP: It was written specifically for the series. Max Kennedy, who is also my roommate, is a talented musician. I wanted a theme song that’s video-game-esque and midi-file sounding. We listened to a lot of video game themes and then he wrote it. I was just blown away.
HG: Do you have women on your production team to help you flesh out a character? Do you have many women on the team contributing?
JP: In terms of our production team, we’re pretty gender-balanced. I have a number of key individuals I pass my writing to. Stephen King described his ideal reader as being his wife. I have people who I feel are my ideal readers and will give me feedback. A number of [women] fill that role and I’ll ask is this a problem? Is this a concern? Are there any representational issues? If there’s anything inauthentic, I’ll listen to that feedback.
HG: If Gay Nerds was ever picked up by a major network, could you easily pop out an episode a week?
JP: That would be ideal! We’re at a point now where we’ve been through Will & Grace and Glee. We’re at the next level. Part of that is subculture specificity–like gay nerds but also queers of colour and queer women. I would love to have a mainstream platform for these types of stories.
HG: How much would you play up stereotypes of nerd culture and gay culture?
JP: I will only engage in those stereotypes if I have the opportunity to subvert or comment on them. People think nerds are undersexed or asexual and queers are oversexed. [Gay Nerds] brings these two niches together and explores the variations within both subcultures. Identities are multifaceted. That’s what I want to come through.
You can see JP on season 5 of MTV’s 1 Girl 5 Gays, and catch the second season of Gay Nerds, debuting this fall, on YouTube.