Samm Levine

Samm Levine

Judd Apatow certainly has an eye for talent! Almost everyone who was in his TV show Freaks and Geeks has gone on to be a star. You can see the full list here.

And now, another F&G cast member we were waiting to be in a hit has arrived. His name is Samm Levine (yes, two Ms). And his hit is Sydney White. To give you a clue what it’s about, the working title was Syndey White and the Seven Dorks.

Samm plays one of the dwarves (we really shouldn’t go there; Samm is 5-foot-4!), er, dorks that Sydney, played by Amanda Bynes, lives with after bing kicked out of her sorority by the wicked, witchy Sara PaxtonDanny Strong is another dork in that one.

Samm's in a new series called Naught for Hire. "Naught" is an old word for "nothing," but in this case it's someone's last name. And he was in the show Vamped Out, about a vampire actor who can't get a job playing a vampire! Lately, Samm's been in episodes of Lost and NCIS, too..

And Samm's in Drones, another office comedy like Office Space. But we think it's cool that one of the directors is Amber Benson. Both Danny and Amber were in Buffy, so we're happy that the actors from two of the most Jew-ful shows ever play nicely together!

Another recent school-based comedy Samm's in is about a brave high-school graduation speech, with Lauren Storm, called I Love You, Beth Cooper. Samm was also in Anderson’s Cross and had a part in Not Another Teen Movie.

He's also in two movies about Jews who fight the Nazis. One has a title we can't repeat. The other has a title we can't pronounce! It's Ollie Klublershturf vs. the Nazis, and it's about two kids who use a video game to defeat time-travelling Nazis. Hey, it could happen! George Segal and Lainie Kazan are the parents in that one.

Since his time with Freaks and Geeks, Samm has been consistently showing up in hit shows like (click to see his Jewish costars) Family Guy, Veronica MarsEntourage, My Name is EarlHow I Met Your MotherThat 70’s Show (pause for breath), That’s So Raven, The Drew Carey Show, Raising DadBoston Public, Just Shoot Me (starring Jewish actor George Segal), Bette, and Spin City.

He also had a hilarious turn as a fraternity brother in Judd’s follow-up show to F&G, called Undeclared. After seeing his scenes, it may be a while before you eat another pickle!

Samm was born here in Chicago, and his dad is a dentist just like his F&G character’s. He added an “M” to his name because there is a rule that no two actors in their union can have the exact same name. That’s why there's a Michael “J.” Fox— there already was a plain old Michael Fox!

In an interview he did with the Jewish Journal while F&G was still on the air, Samm talked about breaking into stand-up comedy: “I played several of my friends' bar mitzvahs. I never knew till 10 minutes before that I would be performing... they'd call me up at the spur of the moment...[the reaction] was good enough to make me want to get a manager. Fortunately, I was right next to New York City. I was one of the youngest comedians working. I was 13 when I played my first club. I played at Caroline's. The offers started rolling in from the other clubs.” (By the way, Caroline's was founded one of the first places to put their comics on TV, and Carol Leiffer was the host of that show. A different Caroline owned Caroline's, though!) 

Samm counts Billy Crystal as an inspiration: “He does Jewish humor and it was always very well-received by all, even those who are not Jewish. When you can do that, that's an accomplishment.”

One cool thing about Samm is that he is the youngest person ever to be inducted into The Friair’s Club. This is a not-so-secret society mostly for comics but also a few other celebs who must have a sense of humor about themselves. Every year since 1951, they have not “toasted” but “roasted” a member… by making fun of them for an hour or so. Lately, they’ve been doing it on TV!

Bonus:

The membership of the Friars over the years has been largely Jewish comics: Jason AlexanderRichard Belzer, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, George Burns, Red Buttons, Sid Caesar, Billy Crystal, Sammy Davis Jr., Buddy Hackett, Alan King, Larry King, Steve Lawrence, Jerry LewisRob Reiner, Don Rickles, Phil Silvers, Jerry Stiller, and Henny Youngman… for starters!

Other Jewish Friars have included sportscaster Mel Allen, playwright Neil Simon, pianist Paul Shaffer, and singers Sophie Tucker, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Eddie Fisher.

Other Friars include comics Redd Foxx, Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Drew Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Rich Little, Bob Newhart, Phyllis Diller, and The Smothers Brothers... actors Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Willis, Chevy Chase, Danny Aiello… TV stars Lucille Ball, Ed McMahon, Kelsey Grammar, Telly Savalas, Jimmy Kimmel, and Regis Philbin… singers Nat “King” Cole and Harry Belafonte... a whole bunch of boxers... and even Donald Trump!

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