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The Nerd

The Nerd is a two-act comedy written by American actor/playwright Larry Shue.


Set in Terre Haute, Indiana in late 1979, The Nerd presents the story of Willum Cubbert, an unassuming young architect, friends Tansy and Axel and unexpected houseguest Rick. During the course of the play, we learn that Rick had saved Willum's life in Vietnam. Over the years, Willum and Rick had exchanged occasional letters and greeting cards, though they never met. Willum has promised Rick that he could come to him for help at any time. While Willum is hosting a dinner party for his boss, Rick shows up. His awkward manner and inappropriate behavior throw the occasion into shambles. Rick decides to move in. Eventually at his wit's end, Willum decides to take a chance on Axel's plan to get rid of Rick.

First presented by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater in April 1981, author Shue played the role of Willum Cubbert.

The play ran on Broadway for 441 performances (March 22, 1987 - April 10, 1988), staring Mark Hamill and directed by Charles Nelson Reilly.


  • Willum Cubbert: Willum is an architect and a pushover. He's kind and intelligent, but "could use a little gumption." He lacks the backbone to stand up for himself.
  • Tansy McGinnis: Willum's on-again, off-again girlfriend. She's been offered her dream job in Washington, D.C., and feels guilty for leaving Willum behind. Idealistic, perky, weather women, and is just as kind as Willum.
  • Axel Hammond: Willum's best friend, he lives in Willum's basement, He's a pretentious, often-inebriated drama critic, always ready with a sarcastic comment.
  • Rick Steadman: The titular "nerd." He's oblivious to insult and lacks manners or sensitivity. Works as an inspector at a chalk factory in Wisconsin.
  • Warnock Waldgrave: A boisterous, slightly dim businessman with no creativity and no tact.
  • Clelia Waldgrave: Mr. Waldgrave's high-strung, put-upon wife. She holds back all of her emotions, and only releases her stress when she can break "something small."
  • Thor Waldgrave: The Waldgraves' terror of a son. Spends most of the play hiding in a closet or bedroom.


The Nerd Screen Play
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