Ben Schwartz- Writer, Actor, Comedian- And Future Father of 20 Kids

The writer, producer, director, and voice consultant, who is known in the world as Ben Schwartz but to Parks and Recreation fans will forever be known as Jean Ralphio, visited The College of New Jersey last Wednesday to satisfy the student’s thirst for TWO free lectures given by the animated actor. Standing at the podium with his adoring fans above him, Schwartz set his phone for 10 minutes to make sure he didn’t “ramble on for too long.” The lecture was dedicated to answering fan questions, and speaking to those who came about what he wished someone had told him while he was growing up- “If you’re passionate about something, go for it. Grab it by the balls.”

I got the chance to sit down with Schwartz before the lecture in order to talk about his upcoming moves in life, what it was like working with the cast of Parks and Recreation, and my Game of Thrones phone screen background.

Going back to Parks and Recreation, you had GREAT lines on the show. You told that most of what you do is scripted, but can you tell me what your favorite improvised lines were and what it’s like to be able to do that with the cast of the show?

“Oooh my favorite improvised line- that’s a great question. That “take me there” line was fun. There was a line once where I was making fun of Adam Scott and I was like “your face looks like fish”… but after a while they all blend together. BUT, I remember that “take me there” line being really exciting because an NBA basketball player picked me up to dunk a basketball and I was like ‘this is the best moment of my life.’ I actually have it on my phone- one of the crew members recorded it for me.”

So what about doing improve with the cast? What was that like?

“Those people are SO highly skilled- Amy is the goddess of improv, like she is so good. When I came up she was one of the people I watched and I was like ‘if I could be one- one hundredth of the improviser she is’ and then I grew up and started doing more comedy and I got to perform with her- and it was the best feeling in the world. Making someone like that laugh who you look up to so much was great.”

You have been or are a freelance writer for the Late Show, writing David Letterman’s monologue, and Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, so my question is would you ever want to host SNL or have your own late night talk show? And if you had a late night talk show, what would be its premise?

“I stopped freelancing a while ago, but that was a big part of the first part of my career freelancing for those places…Who is that? Who’s that guy (Schwartz points to my phone screen)? [Oh that’s Game of Thrones- Jon Snow] Oh got it okay, I love it.  I had three things on my bucket list when I first started: one was to be a guest on Letterman, because I started there as a page, one was to be a voice on The Simpsons, because to me it’s one of the best shows of all time, and one was to host SNL- and the only one I haven’t done is host SNL so I would really like to do that. And late night talk show… I kinda want to act for a while but it always feels like something fun that might be fun after a while more in my career.

Okay, last question… Schwartz interrupts: “So your last question is, when does Game of Thrones premiere?” Exactly. But seriously, you’ve written, produced, donned the voice of a robot in Star War’s- is there anything you want to try either in the entertainment business or out of it that you haven’t yet?

Well, I wanna have a family and kids. [How many kids?] Well I’ll have 20 kids if that’s what you’re asking. I’ll go Amish on it. [That’s a lot of money]. Yeah you’re right, I’ll scale down to two. Professional life, now that I’m starting to write more movies for studios I’d love to be the person who stars in those movies instead of having a big movie star jump in. I hope that there will be a time where I get to write a movie, attach a director I love, and then act in that movie. I think that’s the next step. I may be able to do it at an indie level now, but hopefully as I do it more and more it will be a movie that more and more people could see. That would be inspiring to me. But also I’m going to keep performing improv for free.