Odenkirk was born in Berwyn, Illinois, and was raised in nearby Naperville. He is one of seven children of Barbara and Walter Odenkirk, who was employed in the printing business. His brother is comedy writer Bill Odenkirk. Odenkirk is of half Irish descent. His parents later divorced, and Walter eventually died from cancer and was "pretty down on his luck" towards the end of his life. His father's battle with alcoholism would later influence Bob's decision to avoid alcohol almost completely. Odenkirk would later say that he grew up "hating" Naperville because "it felt like a dead end, like Nowheresville. I couldn’t wait to move into a city and be around people who were doing exciting things." He also attended Columbia College Chicago.
Odenkirk has said his strongest comedic influence was Monty Python's Flying Circus, primarily due to its combination of cerebral and simple humor. His other influences included SCTV, Steve Martin's Let's Get Small, Woody Allen, The Credibility Gap, and Bob and Ray. He also visited Chicago's Second City Theater at the age of 14.
He began his foray into comedy writing as a radio DJ for WIDB, his local college station at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He worked at WIDB with newsman Greg Weindorf and traffic man Matt "The Agitator" Helser now of Dirty Laundry Podcast fame. After 3 years of college, Odenkirk decided to try writing and improv in the Chicago comedy scene. First studying with the famous improv-guru Del Close (who had mentored the likes of Bill Murray and John Belushi) Odenkirk also attended "The Players Workshop of the Second City" where he met Robert Smigel and they began a collaboration that would last for years and take Bob to Saturday Night Live.
Read more about this topic: Bob Odenkirk
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