An Actor Who’s Smarter About Politics Than Any Pundit

Slate's Culture Blog
March 30 2012 3:11 PM

Follow Friday: The Pundit Disguised as a Character Actor

James Urbaniak

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

A few months ago, my buddy @Chicken_Johnny told me on Twitter that he “started following @Slate because I realized I get ALL my news from @JamesUrbaniak.” This did not surprise me at all: For a semi-obscure actor with no official political or journalistic affiliations, @JamesUrbaniak consistently delivers some of the best news, politics, and pop-culture zingers in my feed.

Since winning an Obie for his work in Richard Foreman’s The Universe in 1995, Urbaniak has consistently popped up in interesting big- and small-screen projects, appearing in Hal Hartley films like Henry Fool and Fay Grim and doing the guest-star circuit on mainstream procedurals like Law & Order, NCIS, and CSI: Miami. You may also recognize him from classic advertisements. And some of us know him best as the voice of Dr. Thaddeus “Rusty” Venture on The Venture Bros., Adult Swim’s brilliant adventure cartoon satire that, like Urbaniak himself, remains adored but under the radar.


Presumably most of his 47,500 followers found him through his various acting gigs. But if you come expecting a “tonight you can watch me on such-and-such” situation, you’ll find something completely different: a stream of witty, news-focused commentary on all kinds of political ephemera. From calling out @GatewayPundit for trying to manufacture Obama controversy to engaging Limbaugh defenders in earnest debate, James Urbaniak can be counted on for a wry take on our often ludicrous political discourse. Also he makes funny videos and jokes about grunge, which I appreciate.

So yeah, he’s another liberal Hollywood actor using his celebrity to mouth off on the issue of the day. Except he’s really, really good at it.

Chris Wade is a producer for Slate Video and occasional contributor to Brow Beat. Follow him on Twitter.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?