Lets begin with a little song and dance…
Enjoy my “acting” by clicking this~
Listen to my Voice Over Reel~
Hear me as the narrator, Grampa Wiggley and other characters on the heelarious podcast~
Now, back to the story…
I was born young
I am from the south side of Chicago, from the same town as comedian Tommy Dreesen and NBA center Eddie Curry. Alright I know, if you’re not from Chicago that probably doesn’t mean much. How about it’s the location of one of the countries biggest quarries? Never mind. My father was a construction worker, my mother is an expert at every craft known to man and I was an artistic prodigy before I started kindergarten. My Ed Roth inspired hot rod drawings and cut out felt dioramas of war scenes are still preserved like reliquaries for the Smithsonian somewhere in a basement in Frankfort (Illinois). After designing the flag for my hometown of Sauk Village at the Mozartian age of 14, my head swelled and became too big for “the village”.
Things I learned
My plans were to be an architect, but the University of Illinois thought otherwise and I found that Northern Illinois University was willing to give me a degree in illustration and painting for half the price! After 4 years of building up my confidence and an impressive portfolio, I graduated and moved into a 3000 sq. ft. loft in Chicago’s Fulton Market area with a panoramic view of the city skyline that would soon fall under my painted thumb. I quickly learned that Chicago’s art scene and winter weather had other plans for me as well, and in the middle of a very unpleasant December with no heat, stove or bed, my portfolio was reduced to kindling and I made the very lateral move to being an actor.
Funny stuff that happened (my early career in Chicago)
With a new lease on skid row, I got a job at the famous Second City comedy club, where I finagled free classes, and at the same time I began to study improv with Mick Napier at the fledgling Annoyance Theatre. Soon after I also began studying at the Improv Olympic with the late great Del Close. The Chicago comedy scene was a very incestuous (and less crowded) place back then and on any given week I would be performing in up to 8 different shows. After a while I gave most of my attention to working at the Annoyance Theatre where we did shows like Co-Ed Prison Sluts, Manson the Musical, Your Butt, The Brady Bunch, and a little show called The Lampshades.
I was lucky enough to help create over thirty original shows, with a fat part in our indie film/Troma release “Fatty Drives The Bus” , as well as start the school there with founder Mick Napier and Jimmy Carrane in 1991. In order for so much creativity to flow for so long we found it necessary for other beverages to flow in equal or greater amounts. It was through this process that I actually learned to write my funnyisms down better-like. It was also then that I started to make my way as a voice over actor. A lot of Scotch can do that to a voice. Armed with these tools I built myself a one way rocket to the west coast where I crashed landed in 1997, suffering only a fractured ego and a concussion that lasts to this day.
The marathon that’s a sprint (life in LA)
Once in Los Angeles, the first thing I did was start a show called The Dickie Bell Twist Dance Party along with Eric Hoffman, Bill Chott & Mike Monterastelli. Once things got going, I’ve since managed to appear in “Anchorman” with Will Ferrell, on MADTV, Comedy Central, Air America’s “Ravenhurst”, All Comedy Radio, I’m also in the hilarious book “Comedy by the Numbers”and it’s accompanying short films directed by Mr. Show’s Bob Odenkirk, and continue to enjoy working with “The Office” Kate Flannery in our critically acclaimed live show “The Lampshades” at numerous venues here in LA, such as the opening act for The Dan Band, as well as the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, the San Francisco Sketchfest, the Vancouver Comedy Festival and the Las Vegas Comedy Festival. The Lampshades also perform every month with Toby Huss in The Rudy Casoni Show at the Steve Allen Theatre. You can also catch Kate & me on the hit Disney series “Wizards of Waverly Place” where we play Jen Stone’s parents Marty & Elaine Finkle.
I’m lucky to work with some of the most talented comedy folk anywhere, lately on the podcast series “Brainwarp the Baby Eater“, the second to last episode of The Office, the indi feature film Papa Zeus & the short film Hi Mitch. Not long ago, I was the creator/writer/voice of the weird science & tech podcast WAKDnews (now defunct, but you can hear a sample on the link at the top of this page), and occasionally come up with animated show ideas to pitch such as “Leisure Land”.
Spreading the word
Since it’s one of the few things I know a lot about, I’ve taught improv and comedy writing for the past 20 years at IO West, The Second City LA, and Otis College of Art & Design here in Los Angeles. In addition, I also teach how improvisation is used in leadership & management in the MBA programs at Duke University, UCLA and Columbia University for the company Business Improvisations.
In my spare time I like to read dry, boring science journals to keep my imagination going, enjoy my extensive collection of single malt scotches and I swear I’m going to stop staring at that empty canvas and start putting paint on it ANY DAY NOW.