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Office Break

Funnyman Craig Robinson hits his stride.

Craig Robinson channels his inner Hef.

It’s almost last call on The Office. And if there’s despondency felt among the cast members of the long-running NBC sitcom that wraps this May after nine seasons, Craig Robinson does a splendid job of concealing it. “Life’s pretty sweet,” says the teddy bear of an actor, who broke out as the lovable, if occasionally irritable, warehouse-worker-turned-office-drone Daryl Philbin.

Then again, it’s not surprising the born-and-bred Chicagoan, 41, is in fine spirits: 14 years after leaving the Windy City to pursue his comedy dreams, struggling to get auditions before finally scoring small roles—some, like Philbin, that turned into major looks—Robinson has emerged as one of Hollywood’s leading talents. “God likes to spoon-feed me little by little,” he says.

In the wake of The Office, Robinson is hardly slacking. He recently shot the pilot for Mr. Robinson, an in-development sitcom starring, yup, Mr. Craig Robinson (not-so-loosely based on the actor’s real-life exploits as a music teacher in Chicago). And he plays himself alongside James Franco and Seth Rogen in this summer’s absurd apocalyptic comedy, This Is the End. Also on deck are his leading turns in the Tyler Perry comedy We the Peeples and the soon-to-be-released Hot Tub Time Machine sequel. “It’s definitely a dream coming alive,” he says of his in-demand status. “It’s pretty sweet.”

Nowadays, when Robinson comes back to Chicago, he’s camped out at his mom’s South Side digs. It’s unlike the old days: those nights making his name at the city’s various comedy clubs, when not pulling time as a bouncer at since-shuttered downtown nightclub Intas. Robinson, though, was hardly the smack-talking heavy. “I was the bouncer that would run over and get the big guys,” he says. “Like, ‘They’re fighting. Go get ’em!’”

Hots
Corn toss, family coming through for you, sushi, bid whist, Michael Jackson

Nots
Mean Facebook posts, mean people, torn lateral meniscus, sleep apnea, shortened massages