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The Real Reason You Don't Hear From Brad Garrett Anymore

Brad Garrett wears many beloved faces. You might remember him as the upstart comedian who made a splash on Johnny Carson. Or perhaps you know him best as Robert Barone, the titular character's older brother from sitcom standby Everybody Loves Raymond. Though you might not realize it yet, it's not unlikely you know him from a voice-acting role. And then, of course, there's the chance that you have him filed away as "that one crazy tall actor with the incredibly deep voice." No one could blame you — the dude is 6'8" and he sounds like Tom Waits' chain-smoking dad.

However you know him, one question lingers: what's Brad Garrett up to these days? If you're not a committed fan of stand-up comedy, poker, celebrity philanthropy, or voice acting, there's a significant chance you can't conjure up an answer. Not to worry — we're here to fill you in. It turns out that everyone's favorite NYPD workaholic is a pretty fascinating guy who can claim both a part in a Winnie the Pooh adaptation and a place on the Vegas Strip bearing his name. Join us as we plumb the depths of Brad Garrett's recent career, from the Maximum Hope Foundation to his early forays in online streaming.

He's an in-demand voice actor

When an actor turns to voice acting as a full-time occupation instead of an occasional gig, it is easy to forget that they're still very much a part of the industry. Veteran greats like Tara Strong and Cree Summer are omnipresent parts of our lives, yet we don't recognize them as readily as, say, Anne Hathaway. Even someone like Mark Hamill is still known to most as Luke Skywalker, despite the fact that animation and superhero enthusiasts consider him one of the greatest actors to ever portray the Joker. It is, simply, the nature of film: we remember what we see.

So right off bat, let's establish that Brad Garrett is still very much an actor — he just spends more of his time in a recording booth nowadays. And boy, is he busy. Most recently, he's played Eeyore in Christopher Robin and Ralph Breaks the Internet, Bloat in Finding Dory, and the "Hook-Handed Thug" in Tangled, who you're likely to remember better as "the guy who longs to play the piano instead of murdering for a living." Indeed, Garrett's distinctively deep voice is as much his calling card as any of his live-action roles. From depressed woodland creatures to fancifully-minded mercenaries, Garrett's your guy.

He's an active stand-up comedian

Like so many comic actors, Garrett began his career in the high-stakes world of stand-up comedy. There are few aspects of the entertainment industry more frankly terrifying than stand-up, where there is no hiding from one's success or failure and very little response that lies in between. Those who do it love it, and those who don't do it look on in awe. Despite the harrowing nature of the enterprise, Garrett didn't just start in stand-up — he flourished in it. Garrett was barely into his twenties when he performed on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, and was the first grand champion winner of $100,000 in Star Search's comedy category. If he'd never gone on to feature as Ray's goofy brother on Everybody Loves Raymond, he'd still have made one heck of a name for himself.

But he did go on to TV — and movies, and video games, and pretty much everything an actor can do. Now, in the second half of his life, he's returning to his stand-up roots. Naturally, he's a regular performer at his own Vegas comedy club, where he headlines, on average, a few times per month. But if you're nowhere near the bright lights of the Strip, not to worry — you can still catch him on one of his many out-of-state tours.

He's a passionate poker player

Garrett's successes aren't just confined to the screen and stage — he's an expert poker player as well. He hasn't just played in the World Series of Poker, he's played it multiple times and won the fifth season championship of Celebrity Poker Showdown

When asked how he got into the high-stakes game, he told Bluff Magazine, "My dad's an amazing poker and gin player and he taught me how to play blackjack and took me to Vegas when I was 13... I have the gambling bug. I wish I had a method or some kind of theory, but the truth is I just love being around overweight guys who smoke. I don't know any other way to put it." 

But Garrett's not just playing poker for the sake of money, fame, and thrills. He's dedicated himself to hosting charity poker tournaments that bring card sharks from all over the world together for a higher purpose. When it comes to having fun and doing good, Garrett proves that you don't always have to choose.

He jumped headfirst into streaming content

Digital media has taken over the world. Had Everybody Loves Raymond debuted in 2019, it very well might have been exclusive to an online streaming service. From acclaimed dramas to award shows, television isn't on television any longer, even if it starts there — how many people only ever watch Game of Thrones on a laptop screen? The savviest actors are getting in on the ground floor, throwing themselves into projects exclusive to Hulu, Netflix, or other such platforms. The future is there, from horror to slice-of-life.

Brad Garrett is no exception. Back in 2008 — the stone age, as far as digital streaming is concerned — Garrett debuted Dating Brad Garrett, a web reality series from Sony Pictures TV. The series featured Garrett going on ten blind dates in the wake of his divorce and, by his own admission, "in the midst of a midlife crisis." The irreverent series got high marks from reviewers and holds up over ten years later as a heartfelt look at life's zigzags. Beyond that, however, it stands as a testament to just how ahead of the curve Garrett was when it came to online entertainment.

He's spent time on Broadway

Acting isn't confined to any one space, especially in the modern age. There's the screen, of course, both large and small, and increasingly home to the same actors in the age of prestige television. There's experimental work, like that by immersive acting collective Meow Wolf, and the infamous Sleep No More project. And there is, of course, the stage, and that most famous of them all: Broadway. Many get their start on Broadway, many see it as a long-term goal, and many pop up now and then upon it throughout their entire careers. But of course, It's only accessible to those in the area who can manage to get a ticket, and as such, despite its acclaim, it's easy to forget those actors who spend substantial lengths of time upon it.

Such is the case for Brad Garrett. Garrett played Murray in a 2005 production of The Odd Couple alongside Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and ended up substituting for Lane when he was waylaid due to illness. Garrett's performance earned praise, with Variety hailing him for pulling off "a fine display of the sharp comic skills." Given that the show was sold out and Garrett ended up extending the limited run into June, it seems that audiences agreed with that assessment.

He owns a Las Vegas comedy club

In many professions, the endpoint goal is to someday run the joint. This can be figurative — aiming to be a tastemaking buyer as an artist, for example — or entirely literal, in the case of the restaurant business. In some cases, like comedy, it's a little of both. One aims to be a path-breaking comedian who cracks people up on the regular or, perhaps, own the club where these laughs are had at the same time. Sometimes, if you're talented, ambitious, and more than a little lucky, you might get to do both.

Brad Garrett is one of those few people. He opened Brad Garrett's Comedy Club at the MGM Grand Las Vegas in 2012, and it quickly established itself as a must-see showcase of old favorites, up-and-comers, and everyone running the gamut of comedy in between. "When I had the opportunity to build the ultimate comedy club," he explains on the club's website, "I wanted a venue that captured the ambiance and style of the 1920s in New York ... an intimate atmosphere with great entertainment." Given the club's success, those aims have clearly been realized. The club is an art deco wonderland of laughs, as painstakingly excellent in its aesthetics as it is in its featured performers. And Garrett, of course, works both sides of the comedy world now, as the man on stage who also owns the stage.

He's been falling in love

We've established that Garrett's been more than busy. He's a club owner, an active comedian, a stage actor, and an ambitious entrepreneur. His time is split between so many different aims and projects, it's a miracle he has time to brush his teeth in the morning. But Garrett's not just working — he's made time for romance as well. 

In November 2016, he announced his engagement to IsaBeall Quella. The couple had been together for seven years prior to this moment, and Garrett set the stage with pianist Mark Cohn, who played the couple's favorite songs as the question was popped. Quella is an actress set to star as Stevie Knicks in the cinematic short "Frozen Love." A career might be what one is known for the world over, but Garrett clearly knows that at the end of the day, your work won't love you back.

He's devoted to his kids

When asked by Bluff Magazine about his hobbies, Garrett replied, "Without sounding corny, my family is my hobby. I got two little kids and we love to fish and go to the beach and collect lizards and things like that. I was on [Raymond] for nine years and it's a horrendous schedule ... Now I have the opportunity to dive into their lives. I can make them breakfast and take them to school and stuff like that." 

His children, Maxwell and Hope, are now quite a bit older than the young children they were when this interview was conducted, but what doesn't change with time is a parent's devotion to his little ones. Given that Garrett's life has filled up with club-running, stand-up, and impending nuptials, it seems safe to say that spending time with his kids during those crucial early years was the best possible choice. You can't make breakfast for your children every morning, but you can make memories that last a lifetime.

He's an active philanthropist

More than one celebrity has chosen to make their mark in the world of philanthropy. It is, in fact, downright unusual to scroll through a famous face's website or social media accounts and not see a section dedicated to charity and giving. Some throw themselves into it with the sort of consuming passion that made them famous in the first place — your Oprahs, for example — while some choose to delegate work to others, or keep doing what they're famous for to ensure a steady cash flow to those who need it most. The point is, they realize how lucky they are, and they look to pass that luck along.

Garrett is no exception. He has, in fact, his own organization: the Maximum Hope Foundation, and yes, it is named after his two children. Founded in 2007, Maximum Hope helps families dealing with the illness of their children through financial support. Given the sky-high cost of medical procedures, plus the fact that certain illnesses demand the kind of time commitment that makes keeping a steady job impossible, the work Maximum Hope does is utterly crucial for every family they serve. As the website states, the Foundation seeks to provide necessities like gas and groceries, so the family can remain focused on their child's welfare. It seems safe to bet that making this kind of magic happen probably feels as good as opening one's own Vegas comedy club.

He's had to go to court

There was a time when a celebrity's life could be kept out of the public eye, to a certain degree. You didn't have to go to the lengths that, for instance, Katherine Hepburn did and become a total recluse — you could just expect to have a certain degree of privacy. In the age of gossip blogs, social media, and broadcasting from smartphones, however, anyone with a modicum of fame has become prey to paparazzi — and there is no part of their life that is safe from the omnipresent camera flash.

This came to a head for Brad Garrett when, in 2007, a TMZ photographer took him to court. The shutterbug claimed assault had taken place when Garrett slapped his camera and the camera subsequently struck his face. The Los Angeles District Attorney did not pursue charges, however, due to the fact that the photographer "attempted to provoke a violent reaction... by using hostile and derogatory language." Garrett went back to his life, and presumably, the TMZ photographer went back to his.