Checking In

Ben Schwartz Gets Funny with the NFL for ‘Courtyard Camera’

Ben Schwartz is cracking up inside the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in Hollywood. But this isn’t your ordinary comedy show.

On stage, pro football player Greg Olsen is performing a skit for an episode of Courtyard Hotels’ “Courtyard Camera,” co-produced with the National Football League.

“I’m almost having more fun directing this than being in it,” Schwartz says while feeding Olsen more hilarious lines and directions from the audience, which the athlete handles like a natural.

Learning about other cultures is incredibly important. Not only to inspire but to connect and learn from something outside your comfort zone. I think it helps us grow.

Ben Schwartz

Schwartz, of course, is joking. The comedian’s clearly the star of “Courtyard Camera,” producing and headlining what’s become Courtyard’s most popular online series, and a light-hearted way to promote the brand being the “official hotel of the NFL.”

Since 2014, Courtyard has produced more than 13 episodes of the web series, featuring NFL stars like Victor Cruz, Kirk Cousins, Rex Ryan, DeMarco Murray and Jared Allen in hilarious situations. For Thanksgiving, Schwartz made a cake out of pies, sides and turkey thighs with DeAngelo Williams.

Schwartz, whose credits include the films “The Other Guys,” “The Walk” and “This Is Where I Leave You,” has filmed the series in between roles in TV shows like “Parks and Recreation,” “House of Lies,” “The Earliest Show,” and voicing characters for “BoJack Horseman,” “Animals,” and Disney’s reboot of the animated “DuckTales.” He even consulted on the sound of the droid BB-8 in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Marriott TRAVELER caught up with the always busy Schwartz in Los Angeles to find out what makes football funny and where the jokester goes to find inspiration.

How would you describe yourself? Who is Ben Schwartz?

He is kind of a Muppet.

With Courtyard Camera you’ve been able to meet some awesome NFL players. What were some of your favorite experiences in shooting ‘Courtyard Camera?’

One of my favorite parts of the series is meeting these athletes. They have all been so kind and ready to have fun. I can’t crown a favorite but some moments that have stuck in my head are Emmitt Smith fishing a baguette out of a lake, Andy Dalton going to space, Kirk Cousins throwing footballs from a San Francisco trolley.

Any moments we couldn’t see that you wish we had?

For every video we make, there are countless hours of bloopers and bits that didn’t make the cut.

Your Twitter handle is called Rejected Jokes. Do you have a favorite one?

I chose that username from when I used to write freelance monologue jokes for Letterman. My website, Rejectedjokes.com, highlighted all of the jokes that didn’t make it to air. There are videos from over a decade ago of me and some friends performing my favorites if you want to check them out.

My best advice is if you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be an actor, act. Try, fail, learn and repeat.

Ben Schwartz

Courtyard has enabled fans to spend the night in a suite before the Super Bowl. If you had a choice, which stadium would you want to spend the night in?

Give me warm weather and good food and you can stick me anywhere.

When you travel to a new city, what’s the first thing you have to do?

Eat the food there. I usually ask the locals beforehand if there’s a spot I should check out.

Where are you from and what makes it special? Any favorite places you can recommend?

I’m from New York and anytime I get back to the city, I feel like Superman getting close to the sun. It just re-energizes me. You can check out the UCB Theatre in Chelsea or just put on some headphones and walk aimlessly.

Where do you hang out in Los Angeles?

I perform a bunch at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and Largo, so I am around those spots quite a bit.

What is something about LA that you want people to know? Any misconceptions you’d like to clear up?

Whoever is the most popular actor that year gets to sleep in the O of The Hollywood Sign.

What’s your favorite travel memory?

I didn’t get to travel much growing up but I’ll always remember one of the first times I got out of the country I went to Ireland and visited the Aran Islands for a term abroad in college. It was absolutely amazing and the trip to Europe opened my eyes to how much I needed to get out there and learn from everyone I could.

What are some of your favorite cities?

NYC for family, LA for friends, London for comedy and wit, Paris for beauty, Kilkenny for community, Rome for culture.

Where have you been recently that really impressed and surprised you?

I loved Rome so much. It was my first time over there and everywhere you turned, you would be face to face with history.

What is that one place people should go at least once in their lifetime?

I think everyone should visit NYC and Paris because they are so unique and beautiful.

What are three things you can’t travel without?

Cell phone, laptop, glasses.

Why should people travel? How has travel impacted your life?

Learning about other cultures is incredibly important. Not only to inspire but to connect and learn from something outside your comfort zone. I think it helps us grow.

What are you currently working on?

I just wrapped four movies that will be coming out sometime soon (including the Netflix comedy ‘Happy Anniversary,’ ). We finished the first season of the Ducktales reboot and am I’m finishing up writing a new feature script and book called ‘Things You Should Already Know about Dating, You F*cking Idiot.’

What’s something you haven’t been able to do yet that you’ve always wanted to try?

I’ve been lucky enough to sell four scripts. I would love for one of them to be made. I would love to have the time to get out of the country for a few weeks of the year and explore.

There are so many channels and platforms to be an entertainer now. What’s your best advice for people trying to succeed in the business?

My best advice is if you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be an actor, act. Try, fail, learn and repeat. That’s the only way you’ll get better and find your own voice. Take risks and see what happens.

Click to watch more episodes of “Courtyard Camera: An Original Series Presented by Courtyard, Official Hotel of the NFL.”