Unfortunately, it’s rare that people with autism spectrum disorder get authentic and respectful representation in media. “Although many portrayals in popular media are meant to spread awareness, some have perpetuated unrealistic stereotypes,” The Organization for Autism Research states on their website, adding, “The ‘autistic savant,’ a person with autism who has exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field, is the most common.”
But recently, Jewish actor Rick Glassman has received praise for portraying a character with autism spectrum disorder on the ABC sitcom “Not Dead Yet,” who thoughtfully discusses autism. Even better, Glassman himself has autism spectrum disorder!
#stitch with @kinetic.anny why you need to stick around after THAT scene in #NotDeadYetABC episode one. #NotDeadYet #NotDeadYetShow #NotDeadYetSeries #NotDeadYetShow #RickGlassman #RickGlassmanNotDeadYet #greenscreen
So if you’re asking, “Wait, who is this Rick Glassman guy?” — no worries, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 18 things to know about Rick Glassman.
1. Rick Glassman was born on July 23, 1984 in Shaker Heights, Ohio to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother of Italian descent.
2. Rick was a self-described “hyper kid” who often felt excluded for reasons he didn’t fully understand. (As an adult, he would be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.)
“I was put in learning-disabled classes, then some sub-learning disability class that to this day I don’t even know what it was,” Rick said of his early education experiences.
3. This is what he looked like as a bar mitzvah boy:
4. Rick attended Orange High School, graduating in 2002.
The highlight of his high school career was playing on the basketball team, where he played against LeBron James, who was captain of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School basketball team.
5. He graduated from Kent State University in 2006 with a degree in marketing and briefly considered going to law school. However…
6. Rick performed his first ever stand-up set at the Cleveland Improv in 2007 and he “fell in love with [stand-up] immediately.” Here’s what he looked like at the time:
7. Rick moved to LA in 2008 to pursue comedy and becoming “a Jewish heartthrob.”
8. In 2013, he was a “New Face” at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal.
9. Rick was cast in the show “Undateable” after writer/producer Bill Lawrence (who created “Scrubs” and went on to create “Ted Lasso”) saw him doing stand-up. From 2014-2016, he played Burski on the show!
10. In 2015 he wrote, directed and starred in “The Sixth Lead,” a semi-fictionalized web series for NBC, which follows Rick as “the sixth lead” of the show “Undateable.”
11. Rick won the Best Short Film for “The Sixth Lead” at the 2016 IFS Festival.
12. He hosts a podcast called “Take Your Shoes Off,” where he has conversations with “some of the funniest and most interesting people in the world.”
Check out his episode with fellow Jewish comedian Moshe Kasher:
13. Rick was diagnosed with level 1 autism around 2017.
“It was so freeing,” Rick wrote of his diagnosis. “First, by understanding the way I think, I began to learn how to talk to myself. Then, accept myself. Then, how to talk with others. Then, how to teach others how to communicate with me. What I learned was, many of the interpersonal obstacles I had weren’t because of who I am, but because of the defined ‘typical’ expectations that exist (that I was previously… and still kinda am… unaware of); if I can help reframe people’s expectations of me, then our interactions will be met with understanding.”
14. He played Jewish comedian Harold Ramis, to whom he has an uncanny resemblance, in a 2018 biopic about The National Lampoon.
15. Rick told Deadline that he would be OK with any of the following people playing him in a biopic:
“Will Ferrell, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Tony Shalhoub, Jim Carrey (as Andy Kaufman), Daniel Day Lewis (as Abe Lincoln), Jim Parsons, Larry David (as Larry David), Michael Richards, Michael Gandolfini or Will Smith.”
16. His Jewish family knows how to have an argument:
Happy 5 year anniversary to the #REPLENISH video. #TheGlassmanFamilyShow #RickGlassman #TakeYourShoesOffPodcast
17. “Not Dead Yet” isn’t the first time Rick has played a character with autism! In 2021, he played Jack Hoffman on the short-lived show “As We See It,” a coming-of-age show on Amazon about three autistic roommates. (It was based on the Israeli show “On the Spectrum.”)
For Kveller, Lior Zaltzman wrote of the show, “‘As We See It’ is sometimes sad, sometimes funny and sometimes imperfect, but more often than not, it is human and touching. It’s a show that makes you believe in the power of friendship and family.”
18. Enjoy this clip of Rick as Edward in “Not Dead Yet“: