How John C. Reilly Created Dr. Steve Brule

John C. Reilly has incredible range as an actor. He can play dumb race car drivers as he did in Talledega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby along with long-time comedy partner Will Ferrell, an explorer like he did for Godzilla Vs. Kong, and he can play a cuckolded husband like he did in the Oscar-winning musical Chicago. So it is no wonder that he was able to bring to life one of Adult Swim’s most endearing characters, Dr. Steve Brule.



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Brule is a lampoon of your local news network’s in-house commentator who gives life advice and tips for living that they are somehow qualified to give. His big hair, slurred speech, and childlike innocence make the character all the more hilarious. So how did it come to be that this Oscar nominee ended up creating a character that has his own Adult Swim show and becomes the subject of many gifs and memes?

8 It Started As A Tim And Eric Bit

Before there was Check It Out With Dr. Steve Brule, which lampoons cable-access shows, there was “Brules Rules” a recurring skit on Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job. The show, hosted by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, frequently parodied local news programs and one of them was the life advice given by John C. Reilly’s character Steve Brule. “Brule’s Rules” were often nonsensical pieces of advice, like how to brush your teeth with a twig.

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“Brules Rules” became an ongoing sketch for Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job. He was so popular that the doctor soon had his own character arc and appeared in many more sketches. One arc includes Dr. Brule’s love for the already married Jan Skyler, who was played by Tim Heidecker. Eventually, Tim and Eric helped get Dr. Steve Brule a spin-off.

6 The Show Was Critically Acclaimed

Although Adult Swim shows tend to involve very crude, outlandish humor, Check It Out With Dr. Steve Brule received great reviews from critics from The A.V. Club, Huffington Post, and several others. Some even went as far as to compare it to classic mockumentaries like Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap. To give the show the low-quality appearance that helped magnify Dr. Brule’s presence as a nobody on cable access the show would be filtered through a VCR during editing.


5 The Reactions Of The Interviewed Guests Are Real

The show also Reilly interviews real guests while in character, and not everyone who shows up is in on the joke. The objective of the show, according to Reilly as well as Tim and Eric, is to focus on the antics of the character, and not the reactions of the guests. However, the unsuspecting reactions of the interviewed guests do add a degree of reality to the show.

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One can speculate for hours about why any of Tim and Eric’s bits are so popular. But none were so popular that they got a spin-off from their original series except for Dr. Steve Brule. The attention to detail is one element that attracts fans, as already mentioned the editors run tapes of the show through a VCR to give it the grainy, lo-fi look. There is also John C. Reilly’s dedication to the character and his ability to never drop the voice and mannerisms of such an eccentric man. It goes to show that Reilly really is a pretty darn good actor.


3 How Did Tim And Eric Get Oscar Nominee John C. Reilly?

This is a mystery fans have been eager to solve, but it is easy to take an educated guess. One thing that helped Tim and Eric get their show off the ground was their connections to some of the other guest stars on the show, like Bob Odenkirk. Odenkirk actually mentored the two comedians and Odenkirk easily had the connections to many other accomplished comedians, like Reilly. In other words, Odenkirk introduced them to the right people, including the man who would plays Dr. Steve Brule.

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2 John C. Reilly Keeps The Bit Going

Reilly continues to keep the bit alive in a hilarious way. When interviewed about Dr. Steve Brule, Reilly always maintains that it is not him, that rather he is someone who Reilly discovered and is trying to elevate and make famous. To this day, Reilly plays along and continues the bit, maintaining that he is not Dr. Steve Brule, but he does concede there is a similarity in appearance, even though it couldn’t be him. “That guy has glasses,” he told Conan O’Brien in an interview. Of course, how foolish of Conan not to notice that, right?


1 He Still Works With Tim And Eric

Reilly is still very involved with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s projects. He also took Dr. Steve Brule on the road and did a series of live shows, both with Tim and Eric and as a solo act. The show seems poised to remain a favorite of Tim and Eric fans for a long time to come.

Next: A Look At John C. Reilly And Will Ferrell’s Unique Friendship

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