Brian Unger claims he couldn’t qualify for any Quicken Loans because “my credit sucks.” That’s funny, because he’s the well-dressed man walking dogs, beating drums with kid street musicians and juggling J.D. Power customer satisfaction awards in Quicken’s TV commercials.
Although Unger is an actor, never forget that he’s a comedian as you read this Q&A. I kept forgetting that because he has the voice and precise diction of an anchorman. Of course, he’s been a real anchor when he filled in for six weeks for Keith Olbermann when he was on MSNBC. Unger also played a newsman on “The Daily Show,” where he worked with its co-creator, Lizz Winstead. With Lizz he also created, wrote and hosted the now defunct Oxygen network satire of morning TV, “O2Be.” Unger currently plays the lawyer on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Last week, when Winstead came home to celebrate her 30th year in comedy with an appearance at the Woman’s Club, Unger was among those present for the public needling segment of the show. They are good friends and a former couple.
He moved to L.A. because “I got a show right out of ‘The Daily Show.’ So you do what you do; move to L.A. from New York. Then what happens is very typical. The pilot went in the toilet and you are living there. It’s been nice to have some real income while you pursue this thing. It’s a hobby. It’s not woodworking. It’s not working in the garden. Oh, it’s called acting.”
Q Have you ever met Dan Gilbert, chair and founder of Quicken Loans?
A I’ve never met Dan Gilbert, but [he] did an awesome thing for me when I was shooting in Detroit. He [let me use] his membership to the Detroit Athletic Club, and I went in there and did some CrossFit. But they almost turned me away because you have to wear a jacket [and bluejeans are not allowed]. It’s a very fancy place. But I’m hearing that Dan is happy with what we’re doing — [but] he hasn’t invited me over for dinner.
Q Have you ever financed anything through Quicken Loans?
A No. Everything that Quicken Loans is offering I don’t qualify for. If I tried, I’m sure my interest rate would be triple whatever they’re offering, and whatever the down payment, I can’t afford it.
Q Do you ever run into the Geico Gecko when you’re out and about in L.A.?
A We’re in our own sort of elite commercial club. You know how you go to the airport and there’s a lounge for people who are, say, silver medallion, platinum medallion, zirconia medallion? We have the same thing in the commercial world. So I know the Gecko, I know the Honda guy. I know the guy who sits around with the kids in the AT&T commercials. We’re kind of a fraternity. [Chuckle.]
Q What won’t you pitch?
A There’s nothing I won’t pitch. I’ll sell anything. [Laughter.] I’ll do mortgages, but I won’t do reverse mortgages. I think America’s getting a little sick of seeing me. There has been a group of people stalking the Quicken Loans guy. These are what we call “Refinance Groupies.” They have kind of a fetish for people who work in the banking industry.
Q You’d do that stupid KFC commercial with the dad saying, “I ate the bones”?
A I wouldn’t do that. I don’t do any accents, or whatever that was you did right there.
Q Lizz Winstead has a terrible sense of direction coupled with a belief that she is never wrong. And your experience?
A I disagree. She has no compass, she can’t figure out [anything] directional. She is always late, and most of the time Lizz is wrong. As soon as they can install a directional chip in a human being, Lizz would be the best person to receive that.
Q How was that first meeting with the Winsteads of Minnesota?
A Like going home to my own parents but dialing up the frankness, the candor, 100,000 times. The very first thing Lizz’s dad [um, Windy] said to me was, If you get gassy we’ve got the Beano here for you, with all sincerity, and Ginny said, Oh yeah, we have a coupon. Do you like Beano? Sharing the characteristics of my own irritable bowel or the eccentricities of my colon wasn’t No. 1 on the list [of conversation starters]. It was probably No. 10.
Q I’ll think to myself, “OK, Brian’s arrived,” when I hear that you’ve done what in Hollywood?
A You would probably read about me in Scientology magazine. That’s when I will really have made it. Other than that, I’m an average guy out there.
Interviews are edited. Contact C.J. at firstname.lastname@example.org and see her on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”