TV Character of the Week: Jerry Gergich

In the ADD-addled world that is the 21st century, television shows are defined by their characters. It's not enough to keep the narrative momentum of a series churning forward, superfans want their worlds filled with rich, fully realized characters.

Every week, the writers at Blursto will take time out to identify a show that has gone the extra mile and created a secondary character that's as entertaining as any lead.

Character Profile: Jerry Gergich

Actor: Jim O'Heir

Show: Parks and Recreation

Occupation: Pawnee Parks Department Employee

Quotes: Leslie: So, enjoy watching it. Assuming you still have electricity. And sorry about the weird blank gap in the middle. A man named Jerry Gergich screwed up the recording somehow. He had one job to do.

Tom: Who am I supposed to ask for fashion advice, Jerry? He wears the same soup-stained khakis every day.

April: Terrific is not more than amazing, JERRY.

Ron: A schlemiel is the guy who spills soup at a fancy party. A schlamazel is the guy he spills it on. Jerry is both the schlemiel and the schlamazel of our office.

Why we love him:

By and large, Parks and Recreation is a friendly comedy. While frequently hilarious (arguably more than any other show on TV), not a lot of laughs spring from characters making fun of one another. Well, until you get to Jerry Gergich. Poor, poor Jerry.

At the start of the second season, Jerry became the punching bag of the entire Pawnee Parks Department. It's an understatement to say he gets the brunt of the insults. Mild-mannered and well adjusted, Jerry never really asks for it. [1] The unjustified malice coming from all sides makes each insult funnier than the last.

Even Andy Dwyer (normally a lovable, kind, naïve idiot) has fun at Jerry's expense. Hell, even Eduardo, April's brief Venezuelan boyfriend makes fun of Jerry, and he can't even speak English! Suffice it to say, Jerry Gergich is pretty much constantly fighting an uphill battle. [2]

While (or perhaps because) the Parks Department may torment Jerry ruthlessly, he's managed to become a fan favorite. For a character with so few lines, Jerry has a pretty huge following. You can't help but feel bad for the guy. Having rocketed Internet stardom, [3] it's only a matter of time before Mr. Gergich becomes a worldwide phenomenon.

The real man behind it all:

Jerry is played by Jim O'Heir, a long time character actor with an even longer list of credits, both on television and in the theater. [4] While he's had some other notable roles (Then super-fat Jonah Hill's dad in Accepted), it's safe to say Jerry is O'Heir's breakout role.

With season four rolling right along, we can't wait to see what's in store for Mr. Gergich. Hopefully no more black eyes (careful with those burritos, Jerry).

--Matthew Ludtke

[1] In fact, it was hard to find quality quotes from Jerry, just because he's almost always playing the straight man while another character berates him without mercy. It's fantastic.

[2] It should be pointed out that the Parks and Rec writing staff is slowly starting to turn in regards to Jerry (out of pity?), with his smoking hot daughter and giant penis revelation leading the way.

[3] Seriously though, check out that tumblr. It's awesome.

[4] O'Heir was a mainstay of the Chicago theater scene in the 80s and 90s. 


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