The final season of Better Call Saul is coming to a close, and with it the conclusion of another chapter in the Breaking Bad extended universe. Looking back at both shows, it’s interesting to notice the amount of actors who previously worked in comedy. The show has some comedic elements but is very much a dark and gritty drama more than a comedy, so seeing how much of the cast comes from comedy shows something about the creative direction of one of the most-beloved shows of all time.
Here is a list of some of the people from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul universe who made the leap from comedy.
Before he was the teacher-turned-druglord and lead on Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was most known for his iconic role as the father, Hal in the 2000 sitcom Malcolm in the Middle and before that as dentist Dr. Tim Whatley on Seinfeld.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan first worked with Cranston on The X-Files, and when the time came around for him to cast his main character in his own show, he remembered Cranston. He liked Cranston, not just because he was relatively unknown compared to alternatives, but because he thought he had the look and the acting range for the character.
It was initially difficult to convince the studio to take Cranston for the role, because of him being best known for lighter comedic roles. Still, Gilligan pushed and it’s now difficult to imagine any other actor for the role.
Possibly the best known out of the entire crew before Breaking Bad Odenkirk actually also played a small role in Seinfeld back in the day. However, his main claim to fame was as the co-creator writer and co-star of Mr. Show with Bob and David, alongside fellow comedian David Cross.
Before appearing in front of the camera, Odenkirk got his start at Second City with Chris Farley (where he co-created/wrote Matt Foley motivational speaker) he was hired at Saturday Night Live (where he won an Emmy) and went on to write for many other shows. Now he has a whole set of fans who know him mainly as his Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul role of Saul Goodman.
Nowadays, Bill Burr is an extremely famous stand-up comedian, so much so that it might come as a surprise to see him on Breaking Bad as one of Saul Goodman’s henchman. Burr managed to get himself on the show before he had made it quite as big as he is now. Burr has talked about how cool and weird it was for him being on the show. While BB was not his first time on TV, until then it was definitely his largest.
Burr once specifically highlighted a scene on the show where it was just Odenkirk, Lavell Crawford, and himself. Stating, “In that little moment, three stand-up comics were holding down the best drama on TV at the time.”
Crawford plays Huell Babineaux on both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, one of Saul Goodman’s henchmen/enforcers. Outside of the show, Crawford is a comedy veteran, having put in well over 20 years as a touring stand-up comedian. He continues to tour and release specials regularly.
Joe DeRosa was first introduced in Better Call Saul as Dr. Caldera, a veterinarian who helps connect criminals with each other. The character, while having his (very) serious moments, is played largely for laughs. When he’s not acting on TV, DeRosa has written for shows like The Pete Holmes Show and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. He’s released stand-up specials on Comedy Central, co-hosts the Taste Buds podcast with Sal Vulcano, and recently opened the Joey Roses sandwich shop in the Lower East Side of NYC with the co-owners of The Stand Comedy Club.
Jonathan Banks had a long career as an actor before portraying total badass Mike Ehrmentraut Breaking Bad and then Better Call Saul. Despite playing Ehrmentraut almost completely without charm or humor, his best known roles before the show were all in comedies.
If you re-watch classics Airplane! and Beverly Hills Cop – two massively successful comedies from the 80s – and you will spot the actor, looking a lot younger and with more hair than you’d probably recognize.
STEVEN MICAHEL QUEZADA
Quezada portrays DEA agent Steve Gomez, Hank Schrader’s partner in crime (or I guess partner against crime) in Breaking Bad. He also reprises his role in the Saul prequel. His character is sometimes a source of laughter, but not exactly the standard comic relief.
Outside the show, however, Quezada is a stand-up comedian. He’s performed on The Arsenio Hall Show, has a stand-up special, and tours regularly.
Matt Jones is the only person on this list, besides Bryan Cranston, to appear both in Breaking Bad and in the tie-in movie, El Camino. In the series he portrays the accident-prone stoner “Badger” Mayhew, whose ineptitude and oddball behavior serve as frequent comic relief when on screen.
Before acting, Jones was known best for his improv comedy, which he did regularly for several years before landing his spot on the show. His pre-Bad appearances include big shows like Community and The Office. In addition to his post-Bad work in TV sitcoms Mom, F Is For Family, and Bob Hearts Abishola.
David Ury appears in just one scene in Breaking Bad, but chances are you remember him. His character has one of the more gruesome deaths of the series, with his partner unceremoniously crushing his head with an ATM.
While the character is best remembered for the graphic nature of his death, Ury’s background is not so dark. He has been performing stand-up for over 20 years, and has made a splash with his Youtube sketches as well.