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Craig Robinson is an actor, comedian, and musician who has starred in dozens of movies, TV shows, and Pizza Hut commercials. He is probably best known for playing Darryl, the warehouse foreman on Office. When you think about it, it seems like he’s the only one who’s actually cool in this workplace, which makes us cool by extension.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Pierre Sagall: Office is so beautifully popular, I guess that’s what most people associate you with when they meet you.
Craig Robinson: I agree, yes. You are right.
PS: Does it get overwhelming at times when everyone is yelling “Darryl!” to you in the street?
No, they do other things, like “hot tub!” or something. But no, it’s cool. I know it comes from a place of love, so it’s always nice.
Now, one thing I need to talk to you about is, because I’m kinda proud, are you from Chicago?
Yes, I grew up here.
And you were, if I’m not mistaken, the son of a music teacher.
Yes, my mother taught music. And then I ended up teaching K-8 music in Indiana near Chicago.
So I know you’re a musician, and sometimes we see you performing in your various roles and performances. But you actually taught music to children?
I was! I taught music from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Oh good? You were Mr. Robinson?
My music teachers weren’t so inspiring because they were very frustrated with our complete inability to make music as young children. Were you a good one? Did you like this job? Did you go after?
Being a music teacher was cool because, you know, I was doing these programs where the kids were singing in the choir and stuff. So that was fine. Kids have even reached out to me till this day, you know, social media is crazy right? “Hey, Mr. Robinson. It’s so inspiring to watch you do your thing.” And I always tell them the same thing. I’m like, “Hey, I’m not your teacher anymore. Please don’t contact me.”
Can you explain to me why children learn the recorder and no one else in life has ever learned the recorder?
I wish I could, but it’s one of the easiest things to get them going, you know? And it gives you some confidence once you start playing. You play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and realize you can do it. You know, that unlocked something. It is their gateway.
And you still play music, don’t you? You have a group.
Yes, the delicious villain.
The delicious villain. And how would you describe this music?
We are funk mixed with stench.
Do you really prefer playing music to acting? I mean, as an actor or as a comedian?
Ah, play music. I wish I could just… I would just play in a dark room. That’s all I want to do.
This is an excerpt from Wait Wait… Don’t tell me!, NPR’s weekly news quiz. Have fun and test your knowledge with today’s funniest comedians. Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or listen on NPR oneand you can find us on Instagram. Want to catch our live shows at our new home at the Studebaker Theater in Chicago, IL or on the road? Just check nprpresents.org.