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Actor, writer and comedian John Ross Bowie made a successful living off channeling nerd culture. While the actor was best known for playing Barry Kripke, the lisping physicist on "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS 2007- ), the real life Bowie was an eloquent, politically active and savvy entertainer.
John Ross Bowie (who unlike the rock star David pronounced his surname BAO-ie) was born in New York City on May 30, 1971. After graduating from high school, Bowie left the city to attend Ithaca College upstate and dabbled in college radio. After college, Bowie tried his hand at a number of careers before settling on acting: a high school teacher, a copywriter for a consulting firm, and a stint as bassist for the 1990s New York City pop-punk band Egghead. His years on the stage helped prepare him for the live-wire energy of improvisational acting when he started studying at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York in 1998. During his time at UCB, he formed a sketch troupe with comedians Rob Corddry, Seth Morris, and Brian Huskey and performed regularly around the country. He also met his wife, fellow comedian Jamie Denbo, while performing improv in New York. Being a part of the UCB family led to his television debut, a supporting role on the sketch comedy series "Upright Citizens Brigade" (Comedy Central 1998-2000).
His improv training also landed Bowie plenty of commercial work in the late 1990s, often being cast as stock nerd characters during this heyday of the dot-com boom. This commercial work earned him his SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card before he made his big screen debut in the comedy "Road Trip" (2000). After relocating to Los Angeles in 2002, he was soon working steadily in television, landing his first recurring role on the short-lived series "A.U.S.A" (NBC 2003), starring Scott Foley as a New York federal prosecutor. Bowie supplemented his steady commercial work with guest starring roles on a variety of television dramas.
No stranger to ensemble improvisation, Bowie landed a small part on police mockumentary "Reno 911" (Comedy Central 2003-09), followed by appearances on other improv-based shows like Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO 2000-2011) and the cult favorite series starring Adam Scott, "Party Down" (Starz 2010). His enthusiasm for oddball characters also landed him a role as a Wiccan wedding guest who hits on Jennifer Aniston in the romantic comedy film "He's Just Not That Into You" (2009).
Bowie reunited with his former sketch partner Rob Corddry in Corddry's absurdist medical comedy, "Children's Hospital" (Adult Swim 2008 -), playing the recurring character of Dr. Max Von Sydow. Making a shift from the snarky landscape of alternative comedy, Bowie tried his hand at a traditional multi-camera sitcom when he began appearing on "The Big Bang Theory" as the workplace nemesis of Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Barry Kripke, who speaks with an exaggerated rhotacized R that renders his pronunciation of his own name as "Bawwy Kwipke." On the set of that series, Bowie met fellow actor Kevin Sussman, who played comic book store owner Stuart Bloom. The pair began a writing and producing partnership, creating two unproduced sitcoms, "The Ever After Part" and "The Second Coming of Rob," and an animated comedy called "Dark Minions."
In 2011, Bowie published a book-length critical essay about the black comedy cult classic "Heathers" (1988) as part of an ongoing series of film criticism published by Soft Skull Press. He appeared in a recurring role in the retro-style sitcom "Retired at 35" (TV Land 2011-12) alongside comedic greats George Segal and Jessica Walter, and had a small role as an exasperated FBI agent in the cop buddy comedy "The Heat" (2013), starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.
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