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Bob Odenkirk - Biography


Bob Odenkirk - Biography

Comedian Bob Odenkirk

Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images


October 22, 1962

Bob Odenkirk Overview:

Though Bob Odenkirk is probably best known as the suited, screaming half of Mr. Show with Bob and David, he's had a long and impressive career in comedy. From his beginnings at Chicago's Second City to his career as a writer on Saturday Night Live to the creation of Mr. Show, Odenkirk has always been at the forefront of sketch comedy. His style of writing is always smart and subversive, with a voice that's uniquely identifiable as his own.

Quick Bob Odenkirk Facts:

  • Bob Odenkirk was born in a suburb of Chicago called Naperville, Illinois.
  • He got his start doing improvisation and sketch comedy at Second City in Chicago.
  • He wrote for Saturday Night Live and Get a Life before joining the cast of the short-lived The Ben Stiller Show.
  • In 1995, Odenkirk created Mr. Show with Bob and David with comedian David Cross. The show ran for four seasons on HBO.
  • Odenkirk has directed three feature films.

Young Bob Odenkirk:

Born in 1962 in Naperville, Illinois, Robert Odenkirk began his comedy career as a college DJ at Southern Illinois University. After moving back to Chicago, Odenkirk started looking into the city's famous Second City theater. A casual run-in with the theater's director, Del Close, turned into a lengthy conversation that ultimately inspired Odenkirk to join the world of comedy.

Second City and Chicago:

Odenkirk took up permanent residence in Chicago, getting involved in the improv and open mic scenes. While performing regularly at Second City, Odenkirk wrote the now-famous "Matt Foley" sketch ("In a VAN, down by the RIVER!") for his cast mate Chris Farley, which would eventually make multiple appearances on the show when Farley joined the cast. Odenkirk also developed a friendship with future SNL writer Robert Smigel. Through this relationship, he began submitting sketches to Saturday Night Live and was eventually hired as a writer in 1987.

Bob Odenkirk Works in Television:

Though part of a successful network comedy show for several years, Odenkirk was unhappy working at Saturday Night Live. Frustrated by the competitive nature of the writers' room and the fact that many of his sketches weren't getting on the air, Odenkirk began pursuing new options. In 1991, he was hired as a writer for comedian Chris Elliot's cult FOX sitcom Get a Life and for The Dennis Miller Show. He garnered the attention of <Ben Stiller, who hired him as a writer and cast member for the FOX sketch show The Ben Stiller Show. All three shows were canceled fairly quickly.

Making Connections:

While working on The Ben Stiller Show, Odenkirk made friends with two people who would help shape the next phase of his career. The first was Ben Stiller writer and producer Judd Apatow, who recruited Odenkirk to join the cast of HBO's The Larry Sanders Show. Odenkirk played the recurring role of Stevie Grant, Larry's agent, from 1993 to 1998.

The second friendship Odenkirk made was with a writer on Ben Stiller, a young comic named David Cross. The two began performing sketch comedy in L.A., and eventually took their act to HBO as the groundbreaking Mr. Show with Bob and David, where it ran for four seasons.

Life After HBO for Bob Odenkirk:

After Mr. Show ended, Odenkirk and Cross attempted a spin-off movie. Called Run, Ronnie, Run, the film was plagued with problems and was eventually released direct-to-DVD in 2002. Both Odenkirk and Cross denounced the finished cut of the film.

Perhaps frustrated with the Run, Ronnie, Run experience, Odenkirk began directing films himself. His first, the 2003 indie comedy Melvin Goes to Dinner, didn't receive wide theatrical release but was well received by critics. His two later efforts, Let's Go to Prison in 2006 (written by The State's Tom Lennon and Ben Garant) and 2007's The Brothers Solomon (written by Will Forte of Saturday Night Live) had wider releases but were generally panned.

Odenkirk remains very active in the comedy community, producing and developing new projects like Tom Goes to the Mayor and the British sketch group Straitjacket Comedy. In 2007, he began directing Derek and Simon: The Show on SuperDeluxe.com.

In 2008, Odenkirk re-teamed with David Cross to write and produce a pilot for HBO called David's Situation. They decided not to proceed with the pilot.

Breaking Bad

In 2009, Odenkirk joined the cast of the critically-acclaimed AMC series Breaking Bad, playing the role of sleazy attorney Saul Goodman.

Additional Bob Odenkirk Facts

  • During a break from Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s, Odenkirk, Smigel and Conan O'Brien started an improv show in Chicago called "Happy Happy Good Show."
  • Odenkirk won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1993 for his work as a writer on The Ben Stiller Show. He was nominated again in 1998 and 1999 for Mr. Show.
  • He was one of the early performers at Un-Cabaret, an alternative comedy club in Los Angeles.
  • His brother, Bill, was a regular contributor to Mr. Show. In 2005, he was hired as a writer and producer on The Simpsons.
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