Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Breakthrough Jew – Ben Schwartz

This actor/writer/comedian is best known for his roles on ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘House of Lies’

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: January 30th, 2014 in Culture » TV » News

Hot, hip, and heady, the next wave of Jewish artists and influencers has already arrived. This is Breakthrough Jew, your weekly showcase of those on the verge of discovery and ready to be a regular figure in pop culture; setting trends, redefining genres, and simply getting it done-whatever ‘it’ is. These days, it’s not enough to know what’s hot now; you need to catch someone when they’re just starting to simmer.

Featuring those in film, fashion, food, and beyond, we’ll find the story before substance is obscured by style, before hype meets backlash, and before talent and purpose gets lost in a maze of Internet chatter. See an artist in the cozy bar before they hit the amphitheater, dine at a chef’s new restaurant before the line begins, and catch a young writer’s work before the demands of ratings and longevity encroach.

Follow our lead and we’ll follow yours – send us tips or suggestions via email, comment below or tweet us @ShalomLife, as we explore the Jewish landscape for pop culture pioneers.


Name: Ben Schwartz

Age: 32

Hometown: New York, New York

Breakthrough Cred: Actor, comedian and writer best known for ‘Parks and Rec’ & ‘House of Lies’

Ben Schwartz may arguably be one of the busiest men in show business. He’s an alumnus of the popular comedy troupe the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where he continues to perform regularly. He’s the author behind a series of humorous baby animal books including ‘Maybe Your Leg Will Grow Back!: Looking on the Bright Side With Baby Animals’. He stars on two of the most popular comedy shows on television, ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘House of Lies. These are just a few of Schwartz’s numerous accomplishments…. But for some peculiar reason, he hasn’t yet become a household name. We’re hoping to change that.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York neighborhood of Riverdale, Schwartz was raised in a family of social workers and schoolteachers, including his mother who taught music at a local Bronx school.

While many might speculate that being raised in the Bronx was hardening or frightening for a young Jewish boy, Schwartz argues to the contrary. While being interviewed by Kevin Pollack, he joked “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.'”

After graduating from high school, Schwartz moved to Schenectady, New York to study psychology and anthropology at Union College, where he graduated with a double major in 2003.

Ben Schwartz on ‘Jake and Amir’

Shortly thereafter, Schwartz moved back to New York City to pursue his passion for comedy and writing. Over the last 10 years, he has written, directed, and acted in dozens of short films and skits. He began gaining notoriety with his own segment on HBO’s ‘Funny or Die’ entitled ‘Terrible Decisions with Ben Schwartz’ and became a regular on CollegeHumor’s popular series ‘Jake and Amir’ where he portrayed a fictional version of himself.

Find out more about Ben Schwartz on the next page!

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