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Photo provided via Glickman's Instagram.

Q&A: Stephen Kramer Glickman talks being Gustavo on ‘Big Time Rush,’ stand-up comedy

Stephen Kramer Glickman is an actor, writer and comedian most known for his role as Gustavo on the Nickelodeon TV show Big Time Rush

He was also the voice of Pigeon Toady in Warner Brothers’ 2016 animated film Storks, where he worked alongside Andy Samberg and Jennifer Anniston. 

Recently, Glickman released a stand-up comedy album through 800 Pound Gorilla Records called VOICES IN MY HEAD, and he also hosts a podcast called ‘The Night Time Show.’

The Post sat down with Glickman to talk stand up comedy, Big Time Rush and more.

For more of the interview including Glickman singing a Big Time Rush song, stories about Snoop Dogg and the answer to the Big Time Rush reunion question, watch the full interview here:

The Post: Stand-up comedy seemed to be your first real passion, before music and acting. What got you into comedy? Do you have a favorite bit that you’ve done?

Glickman: I was touring the country with a very, very bad musical … We ended up in Los Angeles, and the venue that we were supposed to perform at in L.A. got flooded, so we had a month of just sitting around and waiting to perform. The hotel we were staying at had a comedy night where comedians would come and perform at our little, crappy hotel, and so I decided to try it because I had a month to kill and I thought, “why not?” So I tried it, and I had a great time doing it and I ended up leaving the tour … so that I could just do stand up and live in Los Angeles. 

P: What was it like playing Shrek in the early stages of Shrek the Musical? What went into creating the show and the character? For those who don’t understand workshopping a musical and the aspects that go into it, can you kind of explain that as well?

Glickman: It was a very interesting experience because the people that I was working with were much bigger in the industry than I was. I mean, I was brand new at the time. I was just a kid, and by kid, I was 26 or 27 years old when I started working on it. I was ... trying to learn what it was like to be a professional. To me, a professional showed up on time and left at the end of the day and worked on their stuff overnight. You know, that’s what I thought it was. And then I got the job and learned that it was so much more. That I would have to show up an hour to two hours before everybody else and warm up my voice and be ready, have breakfast and have the energy to be able to make it through the full day ... Also, in the evenings I would go and watch other Broadway musicals to see how other people were doing things on Broadway, not as just a viewer, but as a future cast member to see how things really worked. 

Every day of the week, I would come in and work with Jeffrey Katzenberg, who created DreamWorks, him and Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. They’d be in our rehearsals with Sam Mendes, who is one of the most famous directors in the world, and it was intense, man. It was an intense, extraordinary, wonderful situation, but very intense. I definitely learned a lot, and I learned how to be a professional. I learned how to work. 

P: What got you into screen acting and eventually playing such a memorable role on Big Time Rush

Glickman: I had done a little bit of acting on screen before Big Time Rush, but, you know, a lot of times in acting, you play a small role and then another small role, and you build up over years and years where you get bigger and bigger roles and then maybe you get a big series regular job. That’s usually how it goes, and that’s not how it went for me. I auditioned for Big Time Rush for the role of Gustavo on a Friday, I was cast Saturday and I started filming Monday. It was very fast, and the reason was they had cast everybody already. They had already cast someone to play Gustavo in Big Time Rush, and then they did a table read, and they thought he was creepy. What’s so crazy is that actor has gone on to have enormous success; he is in the show Stranger Things (Brett Gelman) ... He’s a big deal, and I’m a massive fan of him, but thank God they thought he was too creepy to play the part because it opened up, and it opened it up at the last minute, so I was able to get the job. And then the big thing I had to learn was the difference between stage acting and acting on camera.

It’s a fascinating, weird thing. I get asked about Big Time Rush probably a couple hundred times a day, maybe. My Instagram message requests, I get about 200 to 300 message requests every day about Big Time Rush, and most of them I try to answer … but it gets difficult when it’s the same question too much. It’s interesting being a piece of people’s childhoods and being a piece of Nickelodeon’s history, it’s like a significant thing. That’s an awesome thing: to be known as something, to be known as Gustavo. I don’t underplay the character or the significance because so much of the character was built off of my own style … It’s such a meld between me and him. 

P: What is your favorite Big Time Rush song and why?

Glickman: The two best Big Time Rush songs ever written are “Worldwide” because it’s a beautifully written song. Everybody that’s singing on it sounds really good. They sound their best, I think, on that song. It’s got a great bridge to it ... It’s just great. Then the other one, “Count On You” with Jordan Sparks, is probably their best song. It was their best music video for sure, I mean, shot gorgeously, and Jordan is a phenomenon. I think the best unreleased song is “Paralyzed” because “Paralyzed” was only in the show, never released on an album. And I’m pretty sure it was never released on an album because they just thought it was too bada-- and it just didn’t fit into the rest of it. 

P: What was the most memorable moment of filming Big Time Rush?

Glickman: Probably the most memorable moment from the entire run of the show was in the middle of the first season, we did an episode where the guys sang “Halfway There,” and we didn’t know if we would get a second season. We didn’t know if the show would be a success; it hadn’t come out yet. So we were still shooting, and the show hadn’t come out. When they sang “Halfway There,” our entire crew and cast was in tears. Literally just weeping, watching them perform because we were like “Man, this is halfway to the end of the season.” It was actually the halfway point of our season. So we were like, “This has been so much fun. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I hope something good happens,” but we didn’t really know. It was an intense moment on set. Everyone really wanted something big and good to happen. 

Then the show came out, and it was a monster. It was the biggest premiere in the history of Nickelodeon television by a lot. It wiped iCarly and Drake and Josh across the floor. No television show has ever had the opening numbers that we had on our pilot opening ... Then immediately after the show premiering … we were on set, and they came running onto the set and said “we just got picked up for another nine episodes …” and it was like, suddenly our halfway point was no longer the halfway point. And that was really cool. It was amazing. It was an amazing experience, super cool.

P: What are some other film and television projects you’ve been a part of that you’re proud of?

Glickman: Currently, right now, if you have Hulu, you can go and watch me as Pigeon Toady in the 2016 animated film Storks, which I’m in with Andy Samberg and Jennifer Anniston, and (Keegan-Michael) Key and (Jordan) Peele and Kelsey Grammer. I’m one of the leads in that. I got to work on that for three years … Everyone that I worked with on Storks is so amazing. It was the best job that I’ve ever had in my life, 100%. And look, Big Time Rush was an extraordinary thing. It did amazing stuff for my life, but working on the Warner Brothers’ lot, where every single person in the room is 50 times, 100 times more famous than you, you learn so much. And when you make Kelsey Grammer laugh, you’re like “This is it for me. I don’t ever need to do anything. This is everything.” As a kid, that was my dream, my whole life, was to be in animated movies. And not only did I get to have the dream of being in an animated movie that was a big thing … I also got to sing in the movie, which was really cool, and I got to do a scene where I play all four characters in the movie, and I talk … to myself doing all these other voices. As a fan of Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy, that was like a huge piece of my life. That was awesome.

If you have Netflix, you can watch a movie that I’m in called White Fang, which I made a year-and-a-half ago with Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec, Rashida Jones from Parks and Rec and Paul Giamatti, who is, you know, a legend. That was a super cool experience.

I’ve gotten to work on a couple of cool things. I was in Stuck in the Middle, I got to do that show at Disney Channel. That was kind of a neat experience. You know, I love acting, making things and doing stuff whenever I can. I try to jump in and do whatever I can. 

P: What is your main focus right now in life and your career? What projects are you working on now?

Glickman: Right before the big shutdown, I was writing a television show, and my executive producer on the show is Mel Brooks, who is one of the greatest people in history, let alone one of the greatest people in the industry in history of the business. So I got to spend a little over a year developing a show with him in his office, writing on it and working on it was an amazing, amazing thing. And when this pandemic is over, I’m looking forward to trying to see what happens with it and where it gets to go, but that’s what I was doing right beforehand.

Right now I’m writing an animated film on my own, which is a challenge and is cool. Stand-up is on hold. There’s no comedy clubs to perform at, so I can’t really do anything there. 

P: What’s something about you that no one else knows?

Glickman: I have a massive toy collection. I own in my home office alone, four to five hundred action figures … and I’ve built and sold little sets for toys. I’m really into making little scaled-up models of stuff. I like nerdy stuff a lot. Comic con and things like that, Star Wars, I have a lot of robots in my home. A weird thing that I have … I have Pigeon Toady, the character I played in Storks, I have a 5-foot-tall costume that was worn at the premiere. I have that in my living room.

Another thing not everyone knows about me: I’m Jewish, and I’m very outspoken in the Jewish community, and I try to do things in my community but also just in my community here in Los Angeles. I work very hard every year to put on a charity event with my podcast (‘The Night Time Show’), and we’ve raised over $72,000 for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. That’s not something that I really talk about very often, but it’s something that’s a big part of who I am: trying to do good things for my town. 

P: What’s your biggest piece of advice for your fans and people in general?

Glickman: Don’t underestimate empathy. That is a skill and a part of who we are as people, and if you have the ability to have empathy … you have to try to understand where people are coming from and what people’s story is and what they’ve had to deal with in their own lives that have maybe led them down the path to be the way they are. Realistically, I know that’s not always the easiest thing to do. But it helps us, less Karens, you know — we need less Karens in the world. We need less of that and more understanding. Also, if you have the ability to do something for your community or for people that are less fortunate than you and you don’t do that, I think you’re making an incredibly big mistake. I think it’s important for us to give in whichever way we possibly can. 


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