Aaron Branch appears in Rob Lowe’s series ‘Unstable’

click to enlarge Aaron Branch appears in Rob Lowe’s series ‘Unstable’
(Eric Williams/Contributor)
Comedian, actor and writer Aaron Branch plays Malcolm Drummond on the Netflix series “Unstable.”

Aaron Branch had dreams of becoming an actor and comedian from a young age. Now, he is playing Malcolm Drummond on the recently premiered Netflix series “Unstable.”

The workplace comedy stars Rob Lowe as Ellis Dragon, an eccentric biotech innovator whose life spirals after the death of his wife. His son, Jackson, played by his real-life son John Owen Lowe, comes to work for him to try to save his company, Red Dragon Lab.

In the show, Branch plays Jackson’s childhood friend and Red Dragon Lab’s project manager.

Branch brings his personal experiences to the role. He worked as a project manager and assistant to support himself as an up-and-coming comedian in LA.

Branch said the role of Malcolm appealed to him from the first time he read the script for “Unstable.”

“I had taken on all of these different roles, and with Malcolm, it felt like it was a culmination of a lot of experiences that I had from when I was in my early 20s living in Los Angeles, both pre- and post-pandemic,” Branch said.

“It felt like a really awesome way to graduate from that time period in my life to being in entertainment full time. Being able to do this full time is still a new thing for me, and I feel so lucky and energized every single morning when I wake up. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. This project and Malcolm set the tone for that.”

Branch said the “Unstable” set was family oriented.

“It was casual, but it was also professional at the same time. Rob Lowe is hilarious,” he said.

“He’s always there to offer advice. He was also always there to keep the good vibes flowing on set. I always felt very taken care of by the entire cast. Sian Clifford is a freaking powerhouse, and she is also incredibly funny and incredibly kind. Me, Emma (Ferreira) and Rachel (Marsh), who were the newbies on set, always marched over to her dressing room. We would end up having lunch with her and listening to these crazy stories about projects she has worked on, experiences she has had.”

He initially didn’t land the role after doing a first director’s session. About a month later, he was called in for another director’s session and booked the role.

“Every process is definitely different. A lot of peaks and valleys, but I’m really happy this turned out the way that it did,” Branch said.

Branch recently was featured on Netflix Tudum’s “Fresh Faces” campaign.

He did the pilot for “Sue Sue in the City,” the spinoff for “The Middle.” He played a bellman, one of his real-life jobs. Branch has also done a number of national, regional and online commercials. He even had one stint as a hand model.

“I went in for the role of the lead character for that commercial,” Branch said. “They ended up going with someone else, but I guess the director just liked my hands. I was turning lamps on and off, turning off switches. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They paid for me to get a manicure. I felt so special. I was wearing gloves for a week.”

Coming to LA

Branch has been living in Los Angeles since around 2018.

When he moved there, he had to establish himself in the local comedy scene, which took some time. These days, he performs at spots like the Laugh Factory Hollywood and the Hollywood Improv.

He has recently been doing more in San Diego and hopes to go on the road soon. Branch’s resume includes gigs with childhood heroes like Craig Robinson. He especially admired Fred Armisen.

“I remember me and one of my childhood friends from grade school, we would sit in his living room and cry laughing at Fred Armisen’s sketches on YouTube. So, to work with him was a dream. He was always my favorite cast member of ‘SNL’ during his time period there,” Branch said.

In the last few years, Branch has been working on writing content; now he’s writing material for his debut comedy album.

“I want to put out something that I’m really proud of. I’ve been doing standup now for 12 years, which is insane to think about. The timing of everything right now, it just feels like it’s a good time to put something out,” Branch said.

His recent material focuses on living in LA, including his time as a struggling actor and comedian.

“I’m either completely separated from that situation, or I’m really able to see the silver lining of some of my lowest points, not having any money and wandering around LA with a backpack and a dream and living in an artist commune with 25 people per room,” Branch said.

In 2021, he had a chance to spend a few months in the Joshua Tree/Palmdale area, where he wrote every day. He had just quit a full-time job because he wanted to pursue comedy and acting.

He found success with the jokes he penned during that time.

“In maybe a month of performing my material in LA, the first standup clip I posted on TikTok got 1.4 million viewers. That led to another video getting almost 2.3 million. It got a lot of views and a lot of traction,” Branch said.

Shortly after this, he took part in the Laugh Factory’s competition-style open mic, which he won three weeks in a row with this new material. He and another comedian sold out a “Fresh Faces” showcase at the Laugh Factory.

It wasn’t long after that he got the first audition for “Unstable.”

“Everything just flowed in this beautiful way that I attribute to being at Joshua Tree for those two to three months, just hunkering down and intending to try to really do this,” Branch said.

Budding career

Branch’s career as a performer started at age 7. He did school plays and performed at the local Kansas City children’s theater The Coterie, appearing in shows such as “The Wiz,” “Frindle,” “A Star Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hole in Heaven” and “Bud, Not Buddy.”

Hailing from Kansas City, he did his first open mic night at age 15.

He became a regular in the local standup scene, opening for headliners such as Dave Coulier, Carlos Mencia, T.J. Miller, Michelle Wolf and Iliza Shlesinger. He said he was embraced by local club owners and other comedians.

“They really put me in the position to learn and thrive in that environment,” Branch said.

He won the title of “Best Comedian in Kansas City” at the Stanford and Son’s Comedy Club.

When he was a fledging comic, his mom drove him to open mics and shows after work. She was always his biggest supporter.

His grandma became one of his biggest champions, although she was initially hesitant when he started doing open mics.

“We had to persuade my grandmother to go. My mom asked why she was so hesitant, and she said, ‘Because Aaron isn’t funny,’” Branch said.

“I love my grandma so much. She was just being honest. But then, I did the open mic night. I did a great job, and the rest is history. She is my No. 1 supporter now. She just didn’t want me to get my feelings hurt.”

Branch attended Columbia College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in comedy writing and performance. Through the program, he was exposed to areas of comedy such as comedic acting, sketch writing, video production and the business aspects of being a working artist.

As part of his program, he spent a semester at the Second City in Chicago.

“You are writing your own material. You are collaborating with other people within the program to make comedic pieces. We’re doing clowning,” Branch said.

His senior year, he participated in Second City’s and NBC Universal’s Bob Curry Fellowship master program.

Branch applies skills he developed in college throughout his career.

Branch said going through the program and doing standup in Chicago helped him to continue to evolve as an entertainer.

“I feel like I’m always trying to grow, and I’m always trying to push the boundaries. I feel like I became more comfortable with myself because of the program but also because I had the double whammy of being able to perform in the Chicago comedy scene on a nightly basis while being in the program. That helped me to find my comedic voice,” Branch said.

Aaron Branch

Instagram: @aaronbranchworld