Billy Eichner has made a name for himself as a comedian who is in-your-face, loud, and really, really funny. You may know him from “Billy on the Street,” Parks and Recreation, Difficult People, or even as the new Timon in the live-action — I mean, Beyoncé version — of The Lion King.
We figured it was time to give you 18 things to know about the gay Jewish comedian.
1. He was born in Forest Hills, Queens to Jewish parents. He has an older half-brother, but was raised “like an only child, and spoiled.” He did a parody of “Empire State of Mind” as “Forest Hills State of Mind” which includes the line: I was born in Forest Hills / to a Jewish yenta / had my circumcision / Forest Hills Jewish Center.
Just watch (it’s all about his childhood):
2. His Madonna-themed bar mitzvah was at Terrace on the Park, a banquet hall in Flushing Meadows. Here he is (OMG):
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) May 5, 2015
And here he is at the party with a playboy bunny tattoo on his face:
3. His first school production was in fourth grade, and he auditioned by singing “It’s Alright to Cry.” Billy recalls, “Everyone turned around and was like, ‘Whoa, this fat Jewish gay kid can really sing.’”
4. He attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where he starred in Guys & Dolls.
A kid at Stuyvesant, where I went to HS, has made $17 million trading stocks. But when I was there I starred in GUYS & DOLLS so…I win.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) December 15, 2014
5. Billy graduated from Northwestern University in 2000, where he studied acting. In 2017, he said he was still paying off his student loans. He was also part of the Northwestern Jewish Theater Ensemble, nbd.
Well I've never produced a movie but I did direct a play for the NORTHWESTERN JEWISH THEATER ENSEMBLE … NOT TO BRAG!
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) November 17, 2017
6. In 2011, he started “Billy on the Street”, a series where he asks New Yorkers questions on the street. It premiered on Fuse, then moved to truTv, and now it airs on Funny or Die.
7. Some episodes of BOTS are very Jewish. Here’s “Whistle-Blow That Jew!” with Rashida Jones (she can’t keep a straight face):
7.5 He also did a “Billy on the Street” in Israel which was all about Madonna. (On Madonna, he said, “I just worship Madonna. As, like, a young gay kid growing up in the ’80s and ’90s… I was at the Blond Ambition tour with my parents vogue-ing up in the mezzanine at the Nassau Coliseum.”)
8. Why does he shout? “I had very loud parents, and you’re in New York — it’s loud outside. And I am someone who likes to hit a line very hard.”
This was the original title of Billy on the Street but we thought it was too long https://t.co/0vnDrXfg59
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) September 8, 2018
9. He became a meme (does one become a meme?) when audio of him shouting “Let’s go, lesbians, let’s go!” was overlaid on an Avengers scene.
10. From 2013 to 2015, he was on Parks and Recreation as Craig. This is the best YouTube clip you will ever watch. Craig saying “she DROVE ME HERE” will never get old.
Did you watch it? It’s only 30 seconds. Watch it.
11. He co-created and starred in Difficult People with Julie Klausner, a sitcom about two struggling comedians who hate everyone. Billy and Julie essentially play versions of themselves.
12. He cares about politics! In 2018, Billy launched Glam Up the Midterms as an effort to get millennials to the polls.
13. He’s vocal in his support for Democrats, and uses his platform to advocate for policies he believes in. He’s also pretty outspoken with his opinions about Trump.
Dems/liberals/progressives/snowflakes – we all have our favorites & criticism is healthy & necessary. But as debates begin let’s remember we need each other more than ever. NOTHING will make Trump happier than to watch us tear our own side apart. So let’s not. And let’s WIN. 🇺🇸
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) June 26, 2019
14. And, how could we not include this? He voices Timon in the new Lion King – alongside Seth Rogen’s Pumba — and honestly, he steals the show.
Thank you yes I have Oscar buzz thank you https://t.co/PqbZB99sfT
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) July 21, 2019
Did you hear that Hollywood??? EVERYTHING!!!!! https://t.co/uG99TX8OTD
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) July 11, 2019
A lot of Billy and Seth’s scenes were improvised.
15. That also means he was on a song with Beyoncé, and he calls Seth Rogen and himself “Destiny’s Jewish cousins.”
On meeting Beyoncé at the premiere, he explains: “We were backstage before they announced the cast, and Seth and I were the first to arrive, and the next to arrive happened to be Beyoncé and Jay-Z. And Seth and I were very shy and didn’t know whether we were allowed to approach her, or whether she wanted to talk to us. But she came right up to us and introduced herself — not that she needed to — and gave us all a hug.”
16. Full circle moment: He was a bartender at the Lion King on Broadway when he was a struggling actor in 2002.
18. And honestly, this is a joke (maybe), but we would 1000% watch his TV show “The Gay Jew.”
About to upload my TV sitcom pilot that NBC didn't pick up. No idea why they didn't want it, but get ready to enjoy "THE GAY JEW".
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 23, 2013
Image of Billy Eichner in header by Samir Hussein/WireImage