Eric Edelstein has finally come out of the closet … to do an interview. The character/voice actor turned his coat closet into a recording studio after the coronavirus left the Gonzaga alumnus sequestered in Hollywood.
“I was turning lemons into lemonade,” Edelstein said while calling from his Los Angeles home. “It was a necessity. I put in sound proofing and bought some gear, and I was off and running. There’s no lemonade in there, just a pot of hot coffee.”
Edelstein, 43, is a quintessential character actor. The former Gonzaga basketball TV play-by-play announcer enjoys playing a wide variety of roles. Edelstein recently scored the role of Daddy Shark in Disney’s “Baby Shark’s Big Show,” which debuts Dec. 11 on Nickelodeon.
“I’m so happy,” Edelstein said. “It’s a fun gig. Who doesn’t love ‘Baby Shark’? It’s cute family entertainment.”
Edelstein also is part of the horror anthology series “Creepshow.” Season 2, which is slated for 2021, airs on Shudder.
“I play a plumber hired by a landlord,” Edelstein said. “There’s something interesting in those pipes. I get upstaged by Marilyn Manson, but I’m used to it. I used to live two houses down from him. I remember he had goth girls working in his yard.”
Los Angeles is quite a different world from Spokane, but Edelstein insists that he never would have reached the former without living in the latter.
“The people around me in Spokane and Gonzaga gave me wings,” Edelstein said. “They gave me confidence.”
Edelstein, who impressed as the wacky Grizz in the recent animated family film “We Bare Bears,” became friends with a couple of coaches at Gonzaga who had quite an impact on his life.
“Coach (Mark) Few isn’t just a great basketball coach at Gonzaga,” Edelstein said. “He’s such a smart man. He said to add value to whatever you’re a part of – I took that to heart. Everybody wants to be the star, but a team needs someone who can play defense and rebound. I have no problem being that guy in Los Angeles.”
Gonzaga baseball coach Steve Hertz inspired Edelstein’s coach Croach on the animated HBO Max series “The Fungies!”
“When I thought about the coach character, I couldn’t help but think of Steve Hertz. ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” Edelstein said while doing his version of coach Croach. “I’m not accredited for anything but physical education. This is of the mind, but we’ll have to improvise.”
Edelstein couldn’t help but laugh.
“That’s right out of Steve, who is such a great guy,” Edelstein said. “What I tell young voice actors to do is to catalog every impression of your friends.
“I can’t keep up with the accents guys like John DiMaggio (Bender on “Futurama” and Jake the Dog on “Adventure Time”) and Tom Kenney (SpongeBob, “SpongeBob, SquarePants”) do, but I take from people I know, and it helps me so much.”
If it’s not a manner of speaking, Edelstein appropriates an attitude and often a work ethic from his driven pals.
“I look at a guy like my good friend Richie Frahm, who would crash on my couch,” Edelstein said. “He was such a great player with Gonzaga, but he couldn’t make a Korean team after playing with Gonzaga. And then he makes the Seattle SuperSonics and scores 31 points in a game as a rookie. Dreams can come true. But I knew that from being around Gonzaga.
“I remember when we heard a Gonzaga hat was being sold at the NorthTown Mall. We went to the mall and stared at the one hat there. Now there’s probably seven different styles of Gonzaga hats at the NorthTown Mall since Gonzaga is so popular. One of these days Gonzaga is going to win the (NCAA) championship.”
Edelstein thought the Zags would win the final round of March Madness eight months ago, but the pandemic derailed the NCAA college basketball season.
“I believe Gonzaga could have gone all the way last season, but we’ll never know what would have happened,” Edelstein said. “It would have been so much fun for Spokane to have celebrated a championship.”
The NBA fan, who likens himself to a cartoon character, still has great affection for Spokane.
“That city is my favorite place in the world,” Edelstein said. “What other city has a river running through it and a place like the Davenport. I love staying at the Davenport. It’s my favorite hotel in the world.
“You know there is no place that I would rather be. I love Spokane.”
When Edelstein returns to Spokane, look for him at his favorite watering hole.
“There is no place like Jack and Dan’s (Bar & Grill),” Edelstein said. “Jack and Dan’s is sacred ground. I love going there and talking politics. The great thing about Jack and Dan’s is that you can talk about your point of view and then listen to someone else’s point of view, and you’ll have some understanding and empathy, and then you’ll get another pitcher of beer.
“Politics online has divided us. It’s time to get back to Jack and Dan’s.”
Edelstein would love to return to Spokane, but it’s time to return to the closet for more voice-overs.
“I love doing this,” Edelstein said. “In some ways, doing this is more difficult than acting, and it’s beneficial. Voice-overs have helped me find my voice as an actor. What else would a giant, goofy guy like me do for a living?”
The amiable entertainer is 6-foot-4, which hasn’t helped Edelstein’s career since so many actors are diminutive.
“They’ve literally dug trenches for me in order to deal with my size,” Edelstein said. “Whenever someone asks me after an audition how tall I am, I know I didn’t get the part, but I can’t complain.”
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