John Lehr’s hilarious turn as one of the original and most frequently appearing GEICO cavemen has been etched in our minds ever since the auto insurance company’s popular commercial series first hit airwaves in 2004. Alongside its quotable slogan – “GEICO: so easy, a caveman could do it.” – the well-known advertisements placed evolved Neanderthals, who are naturally offended by this punchline, within a contemporary setting. Readers may recall Lehr’s memorable performances in the early “Boom Mic Operator” and “Therapy” spots. However, underneath all that caveman makeup, prosthetics, and hair lies of one of the most famous and well-liked commercial actors you’d probably never recognize as one of GEICO’s best.
As an actor, writer, comedian, and producer, Lehr’s been hiding in plain sight in showbiz for over two decades, while cultivating an impressive, multi-faceted career in television, film, and theatre that goes far beyond the scope of GEICO’s popular commercials. We dug deep to reveal the truth about the man behind all that makeup and hair, and even connected with him for a chat in . The affable comedian gave us the inside scoop on everything from his current plethora of projects to fun anecdotes about his life and career, proving to be as kind, genuine, open, hilarious, and downright cool as one would hope.
So, what do you need to know about the real life of John Lehr? Well, he’s pretty easy on the eyes, for starters.
He set the bar high for other GEICO cavemen
John Lehr already had an impressive resume of commercial spots prior to scoring his GEICO caveman gig. In collaboration with the same advertising team, he promoted products from the likes of Pepsi and Tostitos early on in his career, according to his conversation with Interviewing Hollywood. However, the performer still can’t quite believe just how big of a pop culture phenomenon this particular series became. “I’m stunned,” Lehr told the website, adding, “I mean, it’s huge! My wife just recently googled GEICO caveman blogs, and it’s unbelievable. There’s a whole bunch of people out there who are fascinated with these commercials.”
We’re pretty sure Lehr’s own performance has something to do with that, as he undeniably set the bar high for future GEICO cavemen. ” is the ONLY caveman,” writer-director Justine Bateman tweeted in 2019. “All other cavemen just follow his standard.” For his part, Lehr thanked the insurance company on Twitter around that same time after a fan noted, “What do you know. your Geico caveman commercials are making another run. Good to see.”
A surprisingly perfect gig
After studying at Northwestern University, John Lehr got his start in improv comedy in Chicago, Ill. (via DanaRoc). Considering his comedic roots, performing as a GEICO caveman was a surprisingly fitting gig. “It’s the perfect job for somebody like me, a character actor, because I make a lot of money on these commercials and nobody knows it’s me,” he told Interviewing Hollywood. The comic added, “It kind of fit with my sense of humor, in that it’s kind of, you play it for real but it’s totally absurd, which is basically my cup of tea. And it worked out.” What’s the one downside to being a GEICO caveman? That prosthetic makeup. “It’s a little disconcerting to have two men touching your face for three hours or two,” Lehr admitted, but noted that overall, “[It’s] the easiest job.”
Joe Lawson, who co-created the commercial series, was inclined to agree with Lehr’s first point. “I love John Lehr in anything,” he told Esquire in 2007. “He’s just a brilliant actor and an amazing improvisational artist. With him, the script is just a jumping-off point, he always comes up with better dialogue.”