Jewish actor and comedian Ben Schwartz is perhaps best known for his role as Jean-Ralphio Saperstein on Parks and Recreation. Schwartz and Jenny Slate play obnoxious siblings, and the two of them singing “don’t be suspicious” at their faked funeral remains one of the best scenes on television. But we’ll get to that.
Shall we get into 18 things to know about Ben Schwartz?
1. Schwartz grew up in Riverdale, a Bronx neighborhood, in a Jewish family. When he turned 11, his family moved to Edgemont, a Westchester suburb of New York City.
Here are his parents (and baby Ben):
2. “When I told people I was from the Bronx, it was like ‘Oh, do you have bullet wounds?’ And I’m like ‘No, it’s just me and, like, Jewish people,'” Schwartz joked.
3. He graduated from Union College in 2003, where he double majored in psychology and anthropology. At graduation, he wore a Super Nintendo controller over his gown.
4. Schwartz is very good at Jewish jokes. Examples:
Yom Kippur, the only time when Jewish mothers can't say "Eat, eat" all day.
— Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) October 12, 2016
23andMe sent me back my results… and a DVD of Fiddler on the Roof. pic.twitter.com/skmzmXX2LM
— Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) March 1, 2019
Also, not a joke, but very Jewish: His favorite cookie is a black & white from a Jewish deli. Duh.
5. He runs a website/blog/whatever we are calling it these days called Rejected Jokes, where he posts all his work. @RejectedJokes is also all of his social media handles.
6. He was (is?) big on the humor internet. (Again is this what we are calling it?) In Funny or Die Presents, he had a segment called “Terrible Decisions with Ben Schwartz,” and he appeared in a bunch of “Jake and Amir” sketches for CollegeHumor. Here is a great one:
7. He starred in the Showtime show, House of Lies, alongside Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, and Josh Lawson, where they all play management consultants. The show aired for five seasons, from 2012 to 2016.
8. Schwartz had a notable recurring role on Parks and Recreation as Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, Tom’s (Aziz Ansari) good friend. Schwartz and Jenny Slate, as the Jewish Saperstein siblings, stole every single scene they were in, including this classic where they try to fake their own deaths:
Dare you to watch that and not smile. Here’s an interview he did with GQ in character.
Also, an iconic line, you can hear this screenshot:
9. In 2009, he co-wrote Hugh Jackman’s opening number at the 81st Academy Awards, and won an Emmy for this Oscar performance.
It was one of the best-ever Oscars openings, tbh. Bring back hosts!! You can read all about the history of the number here.
Schwartz recalls, “I had just moved from New York to L.A. and I had a meeting with John Palermo, and it was just about script writing for Hugh Jackman. I was a young little boy with very few credits. He said, ‘Hugh Jackman’s gonna be hosting the Oscars, do you have any ideas?’ I told him some ideas and I sent him a bunch of jokes, and he dug it. I think two days later he said, ‘You have to fly back to New York in three days, and you’re gonna be writing with Harmon and Schrab.'”
10. Schwartz performed with Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCBT), an improv theater founded by UCB members Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, and more. Schwartz is a member of the improv group “Hot Sauce” with Adam Pally and Gil Ozeri.
11. More improv? Alongside Thomas Middleditch, he stars in Middleditch and Schwartz, a two-person improvised show. Every show is completely different; a version is coming to Netflix in April 2020.
12. He created and starred in a web series called “The Earliest Show” for Funny or Die with Lauren Lapkus. You can watch them all on YouTube:
13. He also does a ton of voiceover work: Ben Schwartz is the voice of Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog, the voice of Dewey in DuckTales (the revival), Leonardo in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Randy Cunningham in Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, Josh in Bob’s Burgers, and he and Bill Hader served as voice consultants for BB-8 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
14. Schwartz is multi-talented; he’s also written four books! Things You Should Already Know About Dating, You F–king Idiot (with Laura Moses), Grandma’s Dead: Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals, Maybe Your Leg Will Grow Back!: Looking on the Bright Side with Baby Animals and Why is Daddy in a Dress?: Asking Awkward Questions with Baby Animals (all three with Amanda McCall).
15. Schwartz has starred in a plethora of movies and TV. Three highlights? His role on Undercovers (2010), a short-lived sitcom about married spies, and his role as Rabbi Charles “Boner” Grodner in This Is Where I Leave You (2014). And, on Drunk History, he played Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky on the episode “Las Vegas.”
16. He often tweets about video games, a life-long love. “Playing video games by myself makes me happy,” he said.
My wonderful aunt Adele just sent me this pic from 30 years ago & I no joke JUST played this game on my switch last week. It also reminded me of the pure joy that is opening a new game. Using the hard hangy thing to rip the plastic and hold the cartridge in your hand. Heaven. pic.twitter.com/7hxjZuenHd
— Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) October 22, 2019
Me playing video games my whole life has really paid off for this #SonicMovie press tour. https://t.co/9z1im6Jyb0
— Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) February 13, 2020
I am in the Sunday edition of the @nytimes today if you want to see photos of a grown man hugging arcade games. pic.twitter.com/DpGzGqFcLA
— Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) February 16, 2020
17. Have we talked about his hair yet? Let’s talk about Ben Schwartz’s hair: It’s beautiful. According to a recent Men’s Health profile, “The hair might just be what got Schwartz noticed in the first place.”
I somehow got in @MensHealthMag even though my work out regimen is playing basketball once or twice a week and going on hikes. They took a bunch of super fun photos and interviewed me about my hair. *editors note I only shampoo it once every week or so.https://t.co/lWj5sXZ7jS pic.twitter.com/qF34PWkn5f
— Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) May 30, 2019
18. Some good Instagrams? Let’s share some good Instagrams.
Ben is an uncle, and this photo makes our heart melt:
“Hair by Judaism” (same, Ben, same):
Here is Ben and Billy Crystal, “Two NY Jews”
And just a very good photo to end on:
Header Image of Ben Schwartz by Rachel Luna/Getty Images.