Northshore Magazine

Northshore December 2018

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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120 You may know Jason Mantzoukas by his signature look. His mass of dark, curly hair, deep-set eyes, and scraggily beard are undeni- ably conspicuous. His wild style has bolstered television roles in e League, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and e Good Place. He also appeared in the Amy Poehler/ Will Ferrell film e House. While Mantzoukas would gladly shave the beard and cut the hair, he has never been asked to. "I would totally change for a role," he says. "ere have been a number of parts [where] I have offered to, but they've said no." Practi- cally speaking, his appearance works well with the loose cannon characters he's portrayed. e "lovable maniac" has become his calling card, and while his characters may be wacky and unhinged, he himself is charming, articu- late, and accomplished. Mantzoukas was born in Lynn in 1972 to William and Cynthia Mantzoukas. His family moved to Nahant by the time he was four years old, where he lived until heading off to Middlebury College in Vermont. "Nahant is such a quintessential, beautiful New England town. It is Norman Rockwellian in how idyllic it is," he says. "When I visit my parents now, it's the same house I grew up in. I sleep in the same bedroom I grew up sleeping in, which is bizarre and also quite lovely. " Nahant occupies just one square mile of land area. Mantzoukas reflects fondly on the inherent charm and quirkiness of being raised in such a small, insular community where generations of families have lived for years. He recognizes how drastically different his young life experience was compared to his post-college days in New York City and Los Angeles, California, where he now resides. "e juxtaposition of living in a small town [and] then moving to New York was huge in terms of a different kind of life," he says. e performance bug first hit Mantzoukas in high school. en, he was into music, and drums in particular. In his junior and senior years, he and a friend took part in the school variety show. ey joined forces to write and act out a series of comedy sketches inspired by shows like Saturday Night Live, e Kids in the Hall, and Monty Python. Acting and comedy came naturally. "I was a funny kid, not necessarily a class clown," he says, "but a funny, outgoing, gregarious person." As an aspiring performer, Mantzoukas was drawn to ensemble productions. He nur- tured this passion by joining the New York City chapter of the Upright Citizens Brigade improvisational theatre. Formed by Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser, and Matt Walsh, UCB was setting the New York City scene for improv/sketch comedy. "I went to see a show and it was the funniest show I had ever seen," Mantzoukas says. It was here that he introduced his crazy but cool guy persona that audiences have come to know and love. "I started playing these kinds of vulnerable, charming maniacs," he says. "People who are really unpredictable, wild card characters, but who have a degree of emotional availabil- ity and vulnerability that make them some- how endearing." After about ten years of taking any audi- tion he could get, Mantzoukas secured his first significant role as Rafi on e League. He became so good at playing outrageous char- acters (like Rafi) that casting directors came looking for him for more of the same. "I have

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