Breckman (left) in 2010
March 3, 1955
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Occupation||Comedy writer, screenwriter, radio host, toy developer|
|Alma mater||Boston University|
|Genre||Detective fiction, comedy|
|Notable works||Monk (TV series); Rat Race (film); Seven Second Delay (radio show); Sgt. Bilko (film); I.Q. (film); True Identity (film); Arthur 2: On the Rocks (film)|
Andy Breckman (born March 3, 1955) is an American television and film writer and a radio personality on WFMU. He is the co-creator (with David Hoberman) and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning television series Monk on the USA Network, and is co-host of WFMU radio's long-running conceptual comedy program Seven Second Delay. He has written screenplays for a number of comedy films including Sgt. Bilko (starring Steve Martin) and Rat Race (directed by Jerry Zucker), and is frequently hired as a "script doctor" to inject humorous content into scripts written by other screenwriters.
Although he first made his professional mark as a comedy writer (for Saturday Night Live and David Letterman), Breckman's biggest success, Monk, was a murder-mystery with a humorous edge. Breckman told New Jersey Monthly that he was a voracious reader of the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, John D. MacDonald, and other authors of “solvable” mysteries, as well as being a big fan of the TV series Columbo. “In a way, it’s similar to comedy writing,” he says. “It’s puzzles and puzzle solving. Very logical.” In August 2009, USA Network launched Little Monk, a spinoff series that portrays the main character, detective Adrian Monk, as a child. Breckman was part of the show's team of writers.
In 2014 Breckman launched a line of unusual toys under the brand name Uncle Andy Toys.
Breckman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a middle-class Jewish family. He grew up in Haddonfield, New Jersey and attended Haddonfield Memorial High School. Breckman dropped out of Boston University in his freshman year, and despite an admitted lack of musical ability, he launched a brief career as a satirical folk singer. He released two albums, Don't Get Killed and Proud Dad.
Breckman wrote for Late Night with David Letterman from 1982 to 1984, and contributed sketches to Saturday Night Live from 1983 to 1996. One of his most well-known vignettes was a Saturday Night Live sketch called "White Like Me" (which he also directed), in which Eddie Murphy disguises himself as a Caucasian for a day. In 2003, he took part in a USO tour to US military war zones, contributing material for comedian Al Franken. That year he was served as a jokewriter for comedian Steve Martin's stint as host of the Academy Awards.
Breckman lives in Madison, New Jersey with his wife, documentary filmmaker Beth Landau, whom he met on the dating pages of Nerve.com and who is nicknamed "Boo." They have two children. As an engagement present, Breckman applied his fiancee's name (spelled "Beth Landow") to the murder victim in Monk's season two (2003) première, "Mr. Monk Goes Back to School". His production bio at USA Network says, "He has trouble making friends."
Breckman has three children from a previous marriage. His brother David worked on Monk in various producer roles.
He is professionally represented by Creative Artists Agency.
Since 1992, Breckman and WFMU station manager Ken Freedman have co-hosted a weekly one-hour comedy call-in radio program, Seven Second Delay. The premise of the program seems to be a never-ending series of dead-on-arrival concepts, with the comedic value hinging on Breckman's recurring acknowledgment of failure and his desire to go home as quickly as possible. Breckman has described his co-host as "a sad, bitter little man and [WFMU's] fundraisers are a good time to humiliate him and exploit his willingness to do just about anything, including prostituting himself, to raise money for his adorable little public hippy noise radio station."
In 2009, Seven Second Delay began monthly remote broadcasts from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater comedy club in Manhattan. In 2011 the UCB shows went bi-weekly. Guests on the program have included Dick Cavett, Joe Franklin, Amy Sedaris, Peter Stampfel, Jules Feiffer, Andrew VanWyngarden (of the band MGMT), Dan Okrent, Nora Ephron, Wallace Shawn, Jim Downey, and countless other celebrities with whom Breckman is familiar, as well as lesser-known fringe figures, whom Breckman ridicules on the air for not being well-known celebrities. The UCB broadcasts were discontinued in late 2012.
In 1998, Gadfly Records released Death-Defying Radio Stunts, a CD of outrageous moments from Seven Second Delay studio broadcasts.
Feud with Don McLean
Early in his singing career, Breckman was given the opportunity to perform as opening act for "American Pie" singer Don McLean, with whom he shared management. The two did not get along, and a feud developed, which has persisted to the present day. Breckman and McLean have penned competing renditions of the origins of their mutual dislike, both of which are available online.
- Moving (1988)
- Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988)
- Hot to Trot (1988)
- True Identity (1991)
- I.Q. (1994)
- Sgt. Bilko (1996)
- Rat Race (2001)
TV and video
- Hot Hero Sandwich (1979)
- Late Night with David Letterman (1982)
- Saturday Night Live (1983–1985)
- Tourist Trap (1998)
- TV Funhouse (2000)
- Monk (2002–2009)
- The 75th Annual Academy Awards (2003)
- Don't Get Killed (Gadfly Records, 1990)
- Proud Dad (Gadfly Records, 1994)
- Death-Defying Radio Stunts (Gadfly Records, 1998)
- Uncle Andy Toys website
- Keller, Joel. "Funny Business: Ever watch the offbeat TV series Monk and wonder, How did they come up with that? For the answer, step into the writing laboratory of Madison’s Andy Breckman and his quirky crew.", New Jersey Monthly, December 19, 2007. Accessed March 12, 2011. "Breckman didn’t set out to be a comedy writer, although he was always one of those guys who quietly goofed around in the back of the class. He grew up in Haddonfield, as the oldest of three children in a decidedly middle-class Jewish family.... While Breckman was finishing Haddonfield High, his father died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 51."
- Louie, Elaine. "CURRENTS; A Movie Spoofs Moving", The New York Times, March 3, 1988. Accessed June 11, 2008. "Five years ago, Mr. Breckman and his family moved from New York City to Madison, N.J."
- Seven Second Delay, April 19, 2006
- "Annoy Don McLean, Win $200!" Tayt Harlin, New York Magazine, October 31, 2007
- Don McLean vs. Andy Breckman on the WFMU website
- Official website: AndyBreckman.com
- Andy Breckman at the Internet Movie Database
- Seven Second Delay on WFMU homepage
- Seven Second Delay official blog
- Breckman's Monk production profile
- "Funny Business," profile of Andy Breckman, New Jersey Monthly, December 19, 2007
- 15 Jokes: Andy Breckman performs standup comedy in New York City
- When Strangers Click, HBO documentary featuring Andy Breckman and his wife Beth Landau