I grew up in Worcester, so I’m depressed a lot. There was a bleak quality to it. But I have fond memories of Worcester, too. I grew up Jewish, which was depressing, too, but Worcester had a pretty tight Jewish community. You know how they stick together, the Jews. Like kosher glue. I grew up on the west side of Worcester, which sort of borders a lower-middle-class area and a solidly middle-class area, so I was on the line. There were a lot of tough kids. Those were the two big elements that kind of made me funny besides the genetics. My father was funny; my mother was a ballet dancer.
I have an affinity for people who are from hard-nosed working-class Massachusetts families that drank a lot and hit their kids. There’s nothing funny about it. I didn’t have that family life, though. It’s like the inverse of The Great Gatsby. I sort of watched people and did a lot of observing. Until I reached my teenage years, my friends were from that kind of upbringing, which is hard.
[My roles] maybe tap into a little of the dads I knew back then. But I’m certainly not doing any kind of acting research or pulling people from my past. Coach McGuirk on Home Movies was a much broader version of Bob and a failed character. He was in the spirit of the people I observed growing up. Bob, despite his weariness, is doing a pretty good job.
Dr. Katz was probably the first incarnation of [the improvised tone on Bob’s Burgers ]. [Bob’s Burgers creator] Loren Bouchard was the editor, so to his credit, I think he sort of embraced the pauses and figuring out what to say next. I kind of do that now when I do improv. It’s just become part of the way I play the character.
SEE HIM Benjamin will appear in Bob’s Burgers Live, a stand-up comedy performance by the TV show’s cast, on March 28 at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre. 617-482-0106; crossroadspresents.com/orpheum-theatre