The first time Paul Feig was naked in front of a woman was 1986, when he was 24. After all those years, he was ready. More important, she was willing. But what followed was less a sequence from a Pat Conroy novel and more a spectacular NASCAR spinout.

Too fast, too slow, wrong way, back up, hold on. Pit stop, change the tires, keep your eye on the road. Zoom. Screech. Bam.

Ooh. That's gotta be humiliating.

And that wreck is a big chunk of Feig's memoir, "Superstud, or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin," released last week. The section, an exhaustive play-by-play of Feig losing his virginity, is titled "The Book of Miracles." It's written in chapters and verses. Like the Bible.

Now you stand across from him in a mall in Silver Spring, barely able to look him in the eye because you know every excruciating, shrieking personal aspect of his epic adolescence from reading "Superstud" and his previous book, "Kick Me." Indeed, you know more about Paul Feig than you know about yourself. So, the question practically utters itself.


But first: "Maybe we can walk around," Feig says, looking down at the food court several levels below. "Malls make me kind of jumpy."

The man is 42. Still a self-proclaimed geek. Known best for creating, writing and directing "Freaks and Geeks," an autobiographical TV series about social misfits in a suburban Michigan high school. Married for almost 11 years to a woman who thinks geeks are sexy, though she begged him not to publish the more honest parts of "Superstud."

No luck. Feig is making the rounds across the country with "Superstud," not just promoting it but reading from it. Reading about how Woody Allen movies make him misty. About his clumsy pursuit of girls, and how Sherry, Stacey, Jill, Jeri and Maura considered him Just a Friend{+T}{+M}. About how once, when he was 22, he was so desperate for love that he attempted to perform an act that -- well, it brings you back to your original question.


In the secure confines of a chain restaurant, away from the mall, Feig (rhymes with "league") makes his case.

"I'm not the guy who tries to shock an audience," he insists. "I turn down work for terrible teen sex comedies because I don't like that kind of stuff. But it felt like maybe this can help somebody by letting them deal with what they've gone through and, in the end, help them laugh at themselves and possibly go, 'This guy's even more of a basket case than I was, so I'm not so bad.' So I like to say I've kind of made it my job to throw myself on the sword so that others can at least not feel like such a weirdo."

Indeed, Feig has positioned himself as a kind of martyr, or patron saint, of modern geekdom. "Freaks and Geeks," which ran for 18 episodes before NBC bullied it from its schedule in 2000, retains a strong cult following. There was a "Freaks and Geeks" marathon in Austin last month and a "Freaks and Geeks" pajama party in Boston in May. After 40,000 people signed an online petition, a DVD box set was released last year. Fans still post on the message board at, which Feig maintains with his own money ("tonight was the highlight of my life!" posted Mark G after Feig's Monday night signing in Detroit).

"I think it's something that everyone on Earth has in common," says writer-producer Judd Apatow, who collaborated with Feig on "Freaks." "We had to change from kids into adults and we all had some very awkward years and had to learn some heavy lessons. So we all relate to Paul's stories."

The stories wouldn't have been told, though, without Dick Clark. Fresh from the University of Southern California's film school in 1985, Feig appeared on Clark's "The $25,000 Pyramid" and won $29,000, which he used to pay off credit card bills and launch a stand-up career. Stand-up led to acting, and Feig knocked around in sitcom limbo for years, guest-starring on "The Facts of Life" in '86, playing the nerdy bellhop in the quickly canceled "Dirty Dancing" TV series in '88, spending the '96-'97 season on "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" as bookish bio teacher Mr. Pool. He also popped up in movies, as a DJ in "That Thing You Do!" and a fat-camp counselor in "Heavy Weights," written and produced by Apatow.

While trying to sell his first feature film, "Life Sold Separately," Feig dredged up old stories he wrote about his gawky school days in Michigan and alchemized them into a spec script for "Freaks and Geeks." He sent it to Apatow, whom he met during his stand-up days, and Apatow took it to NBC. The show was on the air just long enough to generate an intensely loyal following.

And now the full Feig. No more TV show allegory. "Superstud" is an R-rated confession told mostly in PG-13 language, an out-and-out admission of social deficiency built on Feig's trust that everyone has done mortifying, lonely things in the dogged pursuit of sex and love.

"The 'Freaks and Geeks' fans -- I think maybe some of them may be like, 'Oh my God, he's really going in-depth on some of these things,' " Feig says. "But I hope I don't freak anyone out. It's all for a good cause."

A cause that wouldn't seem to fit a hapless musical theater buff whose parents raised him as a Christian Scientist, a "whole faith based on not giving power to the physical world," Feig writes in "Superstud."

These days he's the 17th funniest person in L.A., according to Los Angeles magazine. He directs episodes of Fox's "Arrested Development" and wrote and directed his second film, the drama "I Am David," last year. He's developing a young adult book series that melds science fiction and comedy. His next film project, "Stargirl," awaits a green light. To complete his "trilogy of shame," he's planning a final memoir on his esoteric career, which includes a stint as the world's worst Ronald McDonald as well as two Emmy nominations. The last TV show he pitched was "Nice Guys," a comedy about four good-natured young adults navigating the modern dating scene. But the cool kids at HBO went for "Entourage" instead.

For the month of July, though, Feig is busy humiliating himself in city after city, a task he prepared for in stand-up.

"Since you are trying to get laughs, it's all about exposing yourself to people," he says after lunch. "As a comic, one of the last things you're never really -- if you're a good comic -- trying to do is guard your image."

Friday evening, a hundred people cram into Olsson's in Arlington to hear him recount the times he scoured his mother's magazines for pictures of naked women. He stands at a lectern in a black suit and skinny tie, arms waving and fingers wiggling, stumbling and vaulting over his prose like it's coming to him on the spot.

"Let's face it," he begins with the geeky charisma of a weatherman. "Masturbation has never been a proud activity."

Sure, there are guffaws and muffled gasps at his candidness, but no one scowls or leaves. After Feig delights the audience with a chapter that might appear in his next memoir, everyone lines up to have him sign books, DVDs and scripts.

"Some of the stories I could relate to," says Lauren See, 20, who wears a "Haverchuck for President" button featuring the droopy visage of the geekiest "Freaks and Geeks" character. "It's just amazing how he was so comfortable to share them."

Amy Raphael, a recent graduate of the University of Delaware, shows Feig her senior thesis: a treatise on "Freaks" irresistibly titled "Revenge of the Nerds." For which she got an A, thank you.

And everyone wants a picture with the geek. Smiling for the cameras, Feig and fans talk through gritted teeth about school, "Freaks" and the second season that will never be.

"Freaks and Geeks" creator Paul Feig.The cast of the former TV series "Freaks and Geeks," which lives on with a strong cult following behind the autobiographical stories of Paul Feig.