The local native who plays Dr. Rick on commercials also makes noises when sitting down
The popularity of his Progressive ads, about not becoming your parents, has led to more acting gigs for Bill Glass of Arlington Heights.
Chicago area native Bill Glass appreciates the irony surrounding the popularity of the Progressive Insurance commercials where he plays Dr. Rick, a self-help guru who assists homeowners in avoiding the habits of their parents.
In the commercials, Dr. Rick teaches hapless grown-ups how to open a PDF, how to pronounce “quinoa” and how to avoid making noises when sitting down, among other suggestions.
“I’m not gonna lie. Recently, I have made noises sitting down and I never thought I would,” said Glass. “So some of the stuff from the commercials is not just true for everyone else; every now and then it happens to me as well. I have two teenagers, so I’m saying stuff that I never thought I would say.”
Glass, an Arlington Heights native who attended Hersey High School and performed at Second City and ImprovOlympic, also is on “Rutherford Falls,” a show on the Peacock streaming service starring Ed Helms (“The Hangover,” “The Office”).
Now based in California, Glass misses being in Chicago.
“That’s where I got to do a lot of my improv,” said Glass. “It was a great time; I owe people like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and David Koechner.” Eric Stonestreet, who played Cam on “Modern Family,” is another improv friend from that era and tweeted that Glass is “one of those actors in Hollywood that will all [of a] sudden be a 20-year overnight sensation. He’s always been so damn funny.”
Of Chicago, Glass also says, “I miss the food. But mainly I miss jumping on the L and reading a book on your way to wait tables. Now one thing I do not miss is standing on a train platform during 40-below windchill waiting for the train to go to work.”
Glass, who’s acting credits include “The League,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” and “Justified,” says he doesn’t have a favorite commercial in the series; he loves them all. And, more importantly, he says, the insurance giant is satisfied with the reception the commercial receives from consumers.
“My favorite line? It’s tough to say,” said Glass, who wears a fake mustache in the role. “The recent one saying, ‘If you woke up early, no one cares,’ is a fun one for me because it reminds me of my dad who was always up early.
“When I see [Progressive reps] on set, they say that it’s getting a great response and they’re very happy with it — I’m happy with it. I do know that people are digging them. Progressive does seem to be pretty happy with how they’re progressing, and we keep doing more of them, so I’ll take it.”
He has his own theory about why the Dr. Rick commercials — some with more than a million YouTube views — resonate with multiple generations.
“I think people are laughing at themselves. They’re laughing at their parents a little bit,” said Glass. “I call it ‘triple regeneration.’ The kids laugh when the parents are acting like the grandparents, the parents laugh when they’re starting to act like their parents, and the grandparents are laughing that their children behind them are starting to turn into them, so I think I’m getting a kick out of the fact that it’s so relatable to every sort of chapter of a family.”
He plays a lawyer on “Rutherford Falls,” a show that “starts with a statue in the middle of the street that becomes problematic and it really forces [Helms’ character] to look at his family’s history through a lens that he wasn’t thinking,” said Glass. “He’s a very proud member of the Rutherford family, and he has to come to terms with how the history of his family has unfolded over the years.
“Five of the nine, I want to say, were Native American writers, so it really helped contribute to exposing everybody to their culture and their form of comedy; it’s really fun to be a part of.”