2007_02_brett_gelman.jpg Brett Gelman's favorite jam back in the day was Eric B. for President. It's okay for me to make that reference Gelman, along with comedian Jon Daly , makes up the hip-hop duo Cracked Out. He also performs improv as part of Death by Roo Roo , is a member of the sketch group The The Brighter Side , and appears at venues ranging from Rififi to Comix. He's busy, is what I'm trying to say!

Since you’re an improviser, it's fair to assume that you're very quick when it comes to jokes. But how quick are you when it comes to a footrace?
I would say I'm pretty fast. That is if I just ganked a sucker's motherfuckin' television set.

How quick are you when it comes to free-style rapping?
Not quick at all. I think I'm getting better, although Jon Daly (MC Record Deal) never wants to. But sometimes I spit some shit off the top of my "d" and I surprise myself.

When did you develop your love of hip-hop?
I really started to develop it in college. Before college I was a dirty hippy. I toured with the Dead and everything. Then when I got to college I got exposed to realer music, and I identified the most with hip-hop. Before college I always just listened to whatever my douche bag friends liked. I was too socially terrified to have my own opinion. I started listening to hip-hop before I became a hippy. The first hip-hop was Cypress Hill, The Beastie Boys, and The Pharcyde. Then that got interrupted by my couple of lost years as a Dead Head, and once I hit college people started playing for me KRS ONE, and Wu Tang, Busta Rhymes, Black Star, Gang Starr, and from there I just got obsessed with learning more and more about it. I remember hearing this B.I.G. song off "Ready To Die" (probably my favorite album ever) called "Suicidal Thoughts" and it was so dark and fucked up and authentic it just blew my mind. That's what all great hip-hop does for me. I love it. It's a music that constantly contradicts itself. That makes it very human.

How did Cracked Out come to be?
Me and Jon Daly were watching a lot of New York public access (MNN, Bcat), and there's always these shitty rap videos that come on that are like kids in their bedroom with a flashlight rapping about blasting people. I wanted to make one with Jon for this project we were doing. So we recorded this song called "Insane Killahs" and shot a video for it. It was so much fun and we were like, "Let's make an album." It was always kind of our secret fantasy to rap. We called the group Cracked Out because that's how Jon and I would describe anything that gave off a degenerate vibe. Like "Woah, that homeless dude's ass is hanging out, and there's shit smeared on it. That's Cracked Out ," or ",I drank way too much last night man. I am Cracked Out ." When we made that video our character's names were MC Cigarette and Booze.

Tell me about The The Brighter Side .
The The Brighter Side is me, Jon Daly , Curtis Gwinn, and John Gemberling (Curtis and Gemberling just filmed a pilot for Adult Swim). Those guys are my three best friends. And for years we talked about forming a sketch group. We finally did, and are doing this show at UCB, called "The Nightmare." It's very surreal and dark. I'm really proud of it.

In addition to all of these projects, you recently filmed a movie. Tell me about the role you played in Watching The Detectives.
It was a great experience. I'm probably only in the film for about 5 minutes, but it was a lot of fun. I'm this thug who runs an underground poker room where Lucy Liu's character works, then Cillian Murphy robs me, and there's a chase scene.

It seems like you're one of the busiest performers at UCB. If UCB were the US Military and your rank was determined based on how busy you are what would you be?
Definitely King Cock. Wait...I forget, is King Cock a military rank?

What's your favorite branch of the military and why?
The olive branch of peace, brother!

If all the different branches of military got into a fight, who would win and why?
I think cow branch would definitely win. They're the biggest kind of branch. The ostrich branch would put up a good fight, but they just don't have the brute force that the cow branch has. Oh wait, I'm mixed up again. Did you say branch or ranch?

Did you ever consider going into the military growing up? What sort of aspirations did you have in high school?
Hell no! Me in the army?! In high school my aspirations were basically my aspirations now. To do comedy, act, and write.

Did you do any sort of acting in high school? If so, what kind?
I was in Grapes of Wrath, Midsummer Nights Dream, your high school standards. I also wrote and performed two terrible wannabe Eric Bogosian one man shows, called "The Dark Claw" and "American Alien." Dark Claw was all about frustration, a.k.a. the dark claw of frustration. And "American Alien" was all about Americans who were alienated (the drug dealer, the teenager, the revolutionary, etc.). They were insanely heavy handed with extra dumb on top.

Where did you grow up?
A rich Jewish suburb of Chicago, called Highland Park. I fucking hated it. The meanest kids in the world. I'm Jewish by the way, so it's cool for me to say, "I hated those Jews."

When did you get involved in comedy?
I've always pursued comedy.

Was there a specific incident that pushed you in the direction of comedy?
When I was 6 years old I saw "A Night At The Opera," with The Marx Brothers. I watched that movie and knew this is what I wanted to do.

How did you decide what sort of comedy to get involved in?
I went to acting school. And when I got here 7 and a half years ago, Jon Daly was already doing UCB. He told me I should get involved, and I started taking classes, and the theatre has been a home to me ever since. Then I started going to a lot of the down town shows a couple years ago, and loved that too, and decided I should start doing that. As far as the comedy I do, I like to do stuff that's mostly character and sketch based, whether I'm doing it alone or with other people.

You often collaborate on different projects. Who are some historical figures that you'd like to work with and on what would you work on?
I'd like to form a 3 man sketch group with Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln called The Swivel Chair Address.

Let's say you have a time machine. What are some events that you'd go backward in time to make funnier and how would you make them funnier?
I'd go to Jonestown dressed as the Kool Aid Man, and start heckling Jim Jones right before the massacre.

When not working on some sort of project, what do you like to do for fun?
You know hang out with friends, dance it up, go to the Russian Baths. Your standard shit. Oh and sex. I really like sex.

And what do you like to do after a performance?

Brett will be appearing at Here's The Thing at The PIT on the 20th, as part of The Brighter Side at UCB on the 23rd, as part of Cracked Out at Comix on the 26th, and probably several more places that will be added by the time you finish reading this sentence. Visit Brett's Myspace to keep up with his many projects.