By Joe Bosso, Portraits by Brett Erickson
ROB RIGGLE reminds me of one of those “hustle athletes.” The ones who frequently get taken for granted. They are workmanlike, yeomen if you will, and they play their roles effectively without a lot of flash. They are integral players on championship teams, but remain in the shadows compared to the superstars.
Even some mega-stars in that category are unique. They surprise you with how they make their impact. Larry Bird and Chris Mullen are two basketball legends that come to mind. They played to their own unique rhythm, and made others around them better. They dribble, make eye contact, look away, dribble, make eye contact, look away, dribble—they lull you— then, BAM—they slip past you and nail the shot just as you let your guard down for a millisecond.
Rob Riggle is a combination of yeoman and superstar. Sneakyfast like Bird and Mullen, or like Wayne Gretzky’s come-fromout- of-nowhere wrist shot.
Ask aspiring comedians or actors if they would like to look back after twenty years at a résumé that included appearing in iconic T.V. shows like Saturday Night Live, Chapelle’s Show and The Daily Show; performing in top comedic films like The Hangover, 21 Jump Street and Step Brothers; hosting as a comic prognosticator as part of the FOX NFL Sunday broadcast team, and working in both comedic and dramatic films—and most showbiz newbies will tell you it is a no-brainer. They would want that career. Rob Riggle has had all that, worked hard for it, and is now ready for a bit more. He is poised to hit that next level, much like Robin Williams did in his career when he started to blend comedy and drama into his full arsenal. Rob’s entertainment career is noteworthy, of course. Mostly, it is his character that jumps out at me—what I have learned about Rob beyond his career in the entertainment industry. Rob is a dedicated family man with a wife and two children. He served 14 years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, which followed 9 years of active service in the U.S. Marines. Riggle has served in Liberia, Kosovo, Albania and Afghanistan. He has said of his service, “Honor, courage and commitment. Those words really do mean something.” You can also add USO performer (2007 in Iraq) to his credits. Rob retired in 2013 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. (On a personal note, I was moved to learn that Rob was called by the Marine Corps Reserves to report to Ground Zero to help dig through the rubble by hand for six days to search for survivors after the September 11th attacks.) I recently had the opportunity to chat with Rob in Los Angeles to discuss his upcoming projects and his Loaded Vodka brand.
What’s going on with Loaded—your vodka brand? [Riggle partnered with long-time friend Chris Siethel to create the small batch vodka in 2016.] We make Loaded Vodka in Kansas City, which is my hometown.
I tend to go back and invest a lot in my hometown. Loaded is unique. It’s American-made, it’s handcrafted, good. It’s good stuff. What’s unique about it is, Kansas, all the way up to North Dakota, sits on top of the largest aquifer in North America. It’s basically a huge underground lake encasing granite. That water is some of the cleanest water you’ll find. It’s like a great lake right under the ground there. And it’s beautiful. That’s where we draw water out from. Sixty percent of a bottle of vodka is water. You start with clean water like we do, and we filter it ten times. We distill it six more times on top of that. You’re going to get the cleanest, most pure vodka in the world. That’s what we have right there. Sales have been so strong to this point, and it’s a young brand.
Why vodka? Are you a martini person?
I like vodka. I like it as a martini, and I also like a vodka soda. But I like all liquor, and that’s probably not a good thing but I do. [laughs] I like it all. I was a beer drinker for most of my life, and then bourbon. Then finally, John Oliver introduced me to the wonderful world of scotch when I was on The Daily Show, which I enjoy immensely.
Maybe a Loaded Scotch one day?
I love scotch, especially an 18-year old Macallan on the rocks that will melt down for me. It’s a nice nightcap. However, Chris Seithel, the guy that I went in business with on Loaded, started educating me more about vodka. The wonderful world of vodka, the different drinks you can do with vodkas. And I started having more martinis, and I realized how clean, and how pure, and how good it was. The next day, I didn’t feel the effects. In moderation, all things in moderation, of course.
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