Comedian Jon Glaser is not the jerk characters he plays on TV (“Parks and Recreations”, “Delocated”), but with the return of his TruTV show “Jon Glaser Loves Gears” this Wednesday night, it might be hard to always keep the two Jon’s straight — and that’s by design.
In the series, now in its second season, Glaser portrays “Jon Glaser,” a reality show host who adores “gear”: the gadgets, clothing, and accessories that accompany any given activity. Like the real Glaser, this Jon lives with his family in New York City. TV Jon even has a “real family,” made up of people who are annoyed by his obsessions and the cameras that follow him around, and a “TV family” that is paid to lovingly dote on his antics.
“There’s always some concerns about if [viewers] are going to forget who’s who and what’s going on,” Glaser admitted to amNewYork. “And I always feel like it’s OK if it’s confusing and you’re not sure. Or at least I like that part of the show.”
The series, which was originally conceived of as a straight reality show with some comedy-bits thrown in, builds its character arcs and storylines around a different activity-of-the-week formula. In each episode, Glaser, after a lesson or talk with an expert (not a paid actor, but a real expert), tries his hand at everything from surfing and running to photography and baby-proofing. As he goes through the motions, he shows off the gear he uses to complete the tasks, and all the while gets into conflict with his family, co-workers and sidekick.
Much of the show’s jokes comes from TV Jon Glaser’s personality: he is a self-absorbed, and often self-sabotaging, ding-dong who will stop at nothing for “cool shots.” He’s also the type to shorten words like “nature” to “naytch” and refer to the sea as “osh” unironically. It’s hilariously off-putting. Even so, Glaser doesn’t mind sharing his name with his character.
“It’s always funny to hear someone say ‘the character’ because it’s just a different version of myself,” Glaser said. “The show comes from this genuine place of I do love gear. A lot of it is scripted, but a lot of it comes from moments or things from my life.” Glaser pointed out that some storylines, like his failed attempt to play hockey, comes from an actual experience in his youth — he, like the character Jon, didn’t really learn how to skate until he was in his 30s. He said, “It’s a blurred line, which is very confusing sometimes, but I think is also good.”
When the series became scripted, Glaser naturally gravitated to creating a less savory version of himself. Glaser explained that when an actor plays a jerk, “You have freedom to act obnoxiously, which, with comedy stuff, is just fun. I think it really just comes down to getting a lot of great lines.”
Still, he said it can be difficult to be associated with the most obnoxious version of himself, “Sometimes I feel like, ‘ick, I can’t do this anymore,’ — just being such a jerky version of myself, but it’s still fun.”
On TV: The new season of "Jon Glaser Loves Gear" airs on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. on TruTV.