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NY Post
Page Six
15 Apr 2023

NextImg:Ben Schwartz recalls performing in front of only 2 people before becoming famous

Ben Schwartz may be playing Radio City Music Hall this fall but he remembers a time when the audience wasn’t quite so large.

“I once did a yoga studio where two people were there,” he told Page Six in a recent exclusive interview. “I once did improv shows where maybe three or four people were in the audience.”

Schwartz, 41, even performed in front of … no one.

“I was an intern at the Upright Citizens Brigade to pay for my classes because I couldn’t afford them,” he explained. “I’d do the garbage and recycling and I’d show people where their seats were.

Ben Schwartz remembers he would perform for groups of under 10 people when he was starting out.

“And then when everybody left, I would ask the manager of the theater, ‘Can I just get on stage with my two friends? (Adam Pally and Gil Ozeri). Just so we can improvise on the same stage that Amy Poehler was just on.

“And so for 10 minutes, he would let us improvise on this empty stage in front of nobody. And we had — it’s some of my fondest memories of improv — we had the best time … it was like heaven to perform for nobody on that stage.”

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The Bronx-born performer’s life came full circle several years later when he was cast as Jean-Ralphio Saperstein on the Amy Poehler sitcom “Parks and Recreation.”

Even though he has since gone on to star in shows like, “House of Lies” and “The Afterparty,” and voiced “Sonic the Hedgehog,” Schwartz said he’s still most recognized for “Parks and Rec” — despite appearing in only 22 episodes.

Ben Schwartz.

Schwartz has since gone on to voice “Sonic the Hedgehog” and act in “Parks and Recreation.”

Schwartz can currently be seen in the horror comedy “Renfield” in which Nicholas Hoult plays a tortured aide to his narcissistic boss, Dracula (Nicolas Cage), who breaks free after centuries of servitude.

The “Space Force” star plays the son of a mafia boss and joked that he researched the part by spending “the past seven years in the mob and I feel like I’ve fooled a lot of people.”

He said that it was a dream come true to star opposite Nic Cage, especially with the Oscar winner playing Dracula.

Ben Schwartz and Nicolas Cage in "Renfield."

Schwartz said it was “amazing” to star opposite Nic Cage in “Reinfield.”
©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

“The idea that he comes in full Dracula (costume),” he enthused. “It was so easy to act because you just look at him, he looked so scary. It was amazing, It was so fun.”

Schwartz however admitted that he wasn’t a big Drac fan before making the movie.

“Funny enough, just because I’m a New York Jewish guy, it’s ‘Dracula: Dead and Loving It,'” he explained. “I’ve probably seen [that] the most, which is Mel Brooks’ Dracula movie. So that’s like my thing,”

“Renfield” premieres on April 14 in theaters all over the country.