“In the 60s, I made love to many, many women. Often outdoors. In the mud and the rain. And it’s possible a man slipped in, there would be no way of knowing,” was the quintessential Creed Bratton—born William Charles Schneider—quote thrown at the crowd during a tour that visited Capitol Hill last week. The performance was met with thunderous applause from a group full of Office groupies who were in attendance to see the man who plays one of the show’s most riotous characters and perhaps, like me, left with a deeper appreciation for the man behind the character—even if they do share a name.
As an avid fan of NBC’s “The Office” myself, I was more than thrilled to attend Bratton’s show for this week’s Spectator publication. I knew few things about the man who goes by Creed both on and off of the set prior to the assignment. From “The Office,” I knew he was weird. Really weird. I knew he was a quirky character, thrown in at the most inopportunely opportune times to say something outrageous.
From a quick Google search, I learned that he grew up as William Charles (“Chuck”) Schneider. With a guitar and a trumpet, he devoted himself to music, practicing guitar in his barn in between chunks of time spent listening to a radio, which he kept under his pillow. According to the biography on his (fittingly) odd website, the post-college graduation Bratton felt suffocated by his small mountain town, grabbed $25 and flew off to Europe. In his time there, he hitchhiked all over, playing music on the streets for food to complement what he was stealing off of porches and only came back stateside due to starvation and a 60 pound weight loss.
Upon returning to the states, he befriended some equally nomadic friends and forged the group “The Grassroots.” The band had some success, finding one of its singles at the top of the charts for a time. Creed Bratton, a name he chose for himself after being informed that Chuck was not rock n’ roll enough, eventually split ways with the band as he felt they were conforming too much towards the mainstream. Bratton soon began making solo tracks.
After years of rejection with music, Bratton took up acting and found himself roles in a couple of little known films. Fortunately enough for every “Office” fan out there, Bratton met and came to know Ken Kwapis, director of “The Office,” and pitched his character and thus was born the semi-savant we came to know and love.
From what I knew about Bratton prior to the show and then gathered from my research, I had the impression that the evening would be one filled with uproarious laughter, ludicrous (and lewd) jokes and some non sequitur commentary. I was wrong… at least a little bit.
I began the night dining next door to the venue with a colleague eagerly awaiting the night of comedy. I looked up from my guac and margarita to see Bratton sitting at the table directly opposite me. Of course, I took this opportunity to awkwardly approach him seeking a picture, too stunned to ask any interview questions—wonderful, right? He said, “Oh yeah, get in here [to my coworker], it’ll be a Creed sandwich.” I couldn’t imagine a more Creed-y thing to be said at that moment and got even more excited to have a good laugh.
Then, the show started.
Following an average local comic looking to launch his career, Bratton got on stage adorned with his guitar, chugged a water bottle, introduced himself and began singing heart-felt melodies. Lyrics with messages of love, happiness, heartbreak and hope were what he used to serenade his surprised audience. In between songs he would sporadically say something strange or Creed-esque—see aforementioned the mud-sex comment—but I left the show with an entirely different impression of both the character and the human with the guitar on stage than I had held prior to the show. The crowd swayed to his music and laughed at his jokes and I’m fairly certain everyone in that audience left in a similar identity crisis that I found myself in. Bratton isn’t just a fish-catching, sex-having kleptomaniac vagabond as seen in “The Office” but a jolly guy with a moving voice, touching messages and a ridiculous personality. If you’re interested in listening to such songs, look up “Live for Today” as sung by the Grassroots so you too can have an equally unsettling but pleasant change in opinions of one Creed Bratton.
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