Brow Beat

Follow Friday: The Pundit Disguised as a Character Actor

James Urbaniak

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

A few months ago, my buddy @Chicken_Johnny told me on Twitter that he “started following @Slate because I realized I get ALL my news from @JamesUrbaniak.” This did not surprise me at all: For a semi-obscure actor with no official political or journalistic affiliations, @JamesUrbaniak consistently delivers some of the best news, politics, and pop-culture zingers in my feed.

Since winning an Obie for his work in Richard Foreman’s The Universe in 1995, Urbaniak has consistently popped up in interesting big- and small-screen projects, appearing in Hal Hartley films like Henry Fool and Fay Grim and doing the guest-star circuit on mainstream procedurals like Law & Order, NCIS, and CSI: Miami. You may also recognize him from classic advertisements. And some of us know him best as the voice of Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture on The Venture Bros., Adult Swim’s brilliant adventure cartoon satire that, like Urbaniak himself, remains adored but under the radar.

Presumably most of his 47,500 followers found him through his various acting gigs. But if you come expecting a “tonight you can watch me on such-and-such” situation, you’ll find something completely different: a stream of witty, news-focused commentary on all kinds of political ephemera. From calling out @GatewayPundit for trying to manufacture Obama controversy to engaging Limbaugh defenders in earnest debate, James Urbaniak can be counted on for a wry take on our often ludicrous political discourse. Also he makes funny videos and jokes about grunge, which I appreciate.

So yeah, he’s another liberal Hollywood actor using his celebrity to mouth off on the issue of the day. Except he’s really, really good at it.