“The Rick” as he was known to friends back at Brady Middle School and Orange High School may not have been the star player on the basketball team back at the turn of the millennium—especially at a time when the “Chones Triplets” were in the spotlight. But it was the lessons Rick learned by playing on that team that may have led to his star turn in comedy.
“Orange basketball changed my life,” effused OHS ’02 alum Rick Glassman, who has a starring role in the NBC comedy Undateable. “I was not very good…but Ship Collins didn’t cut me. Being on that team, having a passion and drive allowed me to earn a confidence that I never had before.”
“Undateable”, coming soon to a television set near you, is one of NBC’s latest endeavors in primetime comedy. The pilot was picked up by the network, and the series is expected to air midseason. It will star the Orange graduate in his first network television show.
The storyline follows a single guy, his roommate who owns a bar, and the bar owners’ three friends who the single guy deems ‘undateable’. Glassman plays a character named “Burski” who is the over-confident goof of the group, he noted.
Apparently, the high school sport Glassman had played back in the day had a major impact in his obtaining the role.
“The creator of “Spin City”, “Scrubs”, and “Cougar Town”, Bill Lawrence (photo at right, second from left), saw me do stand-up at the Improv in Hollywood. After the show, we talked for a while. We kept in touch, playing basketball a bunch; then months later, he invited me to audition for this show,” said Glassman.
“I always wanted to act,” he said. “SNL, Fresh Prince, Willow, House Guest, Boy Meets World, Lord of the Rings, Bourne Identity...These movies and shows drove me into the Hollywood Game. Stand-up was something that interested me after high school. I thought it may be a good way to break into acting; a way to write and perform. Then I fell in love with it.”
Although this marks Glassman’s first television show series, he has written, directed, edited and acted in dozens of sketches for his You Tube channel. And while he has known he wanted to act since high school, he started doing stand-up in 2007 with only a few shows a month. It was a couple of years later that he decided that comedy is what he wanted to do for a living. Many who knew him said comedy was always in his blood.
“Ricky was always a character, trying to make people laugh!” said teacher Gail Price.
“I always knew no matter how much joking around he did in school he would be able to turn his talent and passion of making people laugh into a successful career!” echoed one of Glassman’s teachers, Denise Robinson Coreno.
But he wasn’t all fun and games in school.
“Ricky knew when to be funny and when to be serious. He was a person that was a necessity on any team. Great teammate; understood his role very well," noted his basketball coach Ship Collins. "He was not one of the starting five but one night I told him he was starting just seconds before the game. His grandparents had travelled from out of town just to see him play…his face was glowing as were those of his mom and grandparents. It’s always good to create those positive memories that last a lifetime."
Glassman said he had many excellent teachers like Collins and Price throughout his years as a “lifer” in the Orange Schools who helped him become the person he is today. He noted three in particular: Former elementary school teacher Mindy Pate, high school teacher Coreno, and former athletic director and varsity basketball coach Ron Hoyt.
“I had a learning disability that I learned about (around third grade). Mrs. Pate worked with me wonderfully. I still remember how good and important that made me feel; In high school Ms. Robinson (Coreno) understood that I was different. She helped me to be confident in an atmosphere where insecurities thrived; Mr. Hoyt made me feel appreciated despite playing behind the 6’5”, 215-pound Chones brothers. I didn’t play too much, but I worked really hard to make that basketball team, and he recognized and complimented my hard work. That makes a person want to keep working hard.”
Glassman's family also had something to do with that. As a legacy, (Glassman’s father Steven, brother Matthew, and aunt and uncle are also Orange Alumni) Glassman was allowed and encouraged to think outside the box.
“His family definitely impacted his decision to become a comedian/actor,” said Glassman’s classmate Jeff Karp. “Creating an environment that fostered creativity, being okay with being different from the norm, putting up with his antics...encouraging him to go to LA because 'someone has to make money as an actor, why not have it be Ricky?!'"
After graduating from Orange, Glassman attended Kent State University where he graduated with a marketing degree. He now lives in Los Angeles in the same apartment building with two of his best friends, one of whom was also cast in Undateable the same day as he was; the other is Glassman’s sketch-writing partner for their web group who also is involved in the show as a writer’s assistant.
Glassman recently attended his 10-year OHS reunion held in downtown Cleveland.
“I always pictured a 10-year high school reunion the way it is in movies….It was fun (but) I didn’t come up with any realizations about my classmates. With Facebook, I have kept up with most of the class digitally.”
Glassman well remembers his Orange days…from getting Dairy Queen with classmate Tim Gilmore to playing piano with fellow student Mike Wien…to, of course, playing on that illustrious basketball team.
"The friends I made on those high school basketball teams are still a part of my life. It gave me an understanding of ‘team’. It taught me how to work on myself physically and mentally.”
Glassman encourages other students to gear up for any challenges by working hard to achieve their own dreams, whatever they might be.
“Write, perform, create…do something productive. Get better on your own so when you’re given the opportunity to work with others, you will be ready,” Glassman said. “And when people ask what inspired you to be a comedian, say funny things like ‘Willow and The Bourne Identity’.”