If you’re a fan of “Stranger Things,” you likely know Brett Gelman as the guy who provides comic relief as a rather, um, “special” ex-journalist and conspiracy theorist whose appearances have become an integral part of the show’s success.
If you’re a Gelman fan, though, you know him as a formidable comedic talent who has an amazingly long resume that many comics and actors would love to match.
Gelman has been picked up as a regular for Season 4 of “Stranger Things,” so let’s take a quick journey through the twists and turns of his comedic career.
Gelman was born and raised in Highland Park, which is a northern suburb of Chicago, in 1976. Given the fertile nature of the Chicago comedy scene, it isn’t all that surprising that Gelman found a way to leverage his knack for humor into a fabulous career.
His father was a photo salesman, and Gelman was raised Jewish. His sister is a speech pathologist, which may offer some clues about how he developed his unique gift for using language in different and creative ways. Gelman actually worked with a coach to learn Russian for his “Stranger Things” role as Murray Bauman, and rumor has it he’s become quite competent with the difficult language.
Gelman graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and he was trained in classical theatre. Which is kind of ironic, to say the least, because most of Gelman’s comedic achievements have been anything but classical, although he did play a scam artist in the latest Downton Abbey movie.
The Comedy Side
Gelman got his semi-official start in showbiz in 2004, and his comedy resume is especially impressive.
He cut his comic chops as a member of the Upright Citizen Brigade, and his work with Jon Daly in the comedy rap duo Cracked Out is legendary.
Then you get to Gelman’s mainstream comedy accomplishments, and that’s where things get especially impressive, so much so that it’s tough to know where to start.
His credits include “Fleabag,” the Adult Swim series “Eagleheart”, HBO’s “Camping”, Netflix’s “Love” and more other series and movies than you can name in a single sentence. He’s been on HBO’s “Funny or Die” and his list of appearances includes the likes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Office,” and so on.
In 2016, Gelman announced that he was leaving both the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim due to their poor treatment of female employees, and he’d also been part of several socially-conscious projects that addressed issues like systemic racism.
Serious stuff aside, it’s at least somewhat strange and ironic that “Stranger Things” is the vehicle that vaulted Gelman to mainstream visibility. His versatility is amazing, and very much deserves the larger roles and acclaim he’s been getting.
As amusing as Gelman’s comedic endeavors have been, his romantic life hasn’t produced the happily-ever-after ending his many fans would like to see.
He was married to director and writer Janicza Bravo in late 2015, but their marriage lasted just over two years and ended in divorce in 2018.
Things seem to be improving for Gelman, though. He’s been with songwriter Ari Dayan for some time now, and they seem to be solid together. Gilman has been involved in directing videos for her, so it will be interesting to see how much long-term staying power they have as a couple.