Constable: From 'Family Guy' to 'The Diamond Dude'
Throughout his career as a voice-over actor on TV shows including "Family Guy," Bobby Kesselman has provided the sounds of Peter Griffin falling down the stairs, Stewie kicked into a wall and Quagmire getting hit with a ceiling fan.
With Valentine's Day arriving Friday, Kesselman is showing his softer side in his new business venture. As The Diamond Dude, Kesselman is helping engaged couples pick out a diamond, buy wedding rings, get financing, order dresses and tuxes, find a venue, order a cake, hire a photographer, get their hair and makeup done, and plan for a life together forever.
The idea came to him in 2018 when a friend getting married in Naperville needed some advice. "Do you have a diamond dude?" the friend asked Kesselman.
"We started talking about dudes buying engagement rings, and the biggest problem is they don't know what they're doing," remembers Kesselman, who realized the need for someone to help and starting learning all he could.
Now the 46-year-old voice actor is that dude. He charges $49 for his services at thediamonddude.com but says customers receive a 10% discount on the purchase of a ring that can save far more than that.
The moment from deciding to get engaged until the wedding "is usually the most stressful time of that couple's life," Kesselman says. "We try to make it a one-stop shop."
Ignorance can be dangerous, says Austin Keller, a 25-year-old sales associate at C.D. Peacock, inside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. He's seen peers buy diamonds on the internet, "and it looks like a piece of road salt," he says. Knowing a woman's ring size is a must. "Not shoe size. That doesn't work," he says. Getting couples to work together is best.
"It should be an experience," Keller says. "Enjoy every moment of it."
That philosophy is at the heart of The Diamond Dude, which has a partnership with C.D. Peacock and a variety of wedding services, Kesselman says.
"Weddings create happiness," Kesselman says. "Men want to be part of it."
An Evanston native whose life in Los Angeles involves a lot of networking, Kesselman has built connections to local businesses involved in the wedding business.
"He's creating this hub," says Yufei Xing, manager of the C.D. Peacock jewelry story at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. "In today's world, everything is about education."
But too much information can be confusing, says Kesselman. That's why The Diamond Dude suggests a handful of options.
Kesselman knows how great it is when stress suddenly is relieved -- he felt it when his Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016. Now, he works to take the pressure off his clients in the same way.
"Being The Diamond Dude instead of being The Diamond Man gives me a little more leeway with my personality," said Kesselman, who sometimes will use his voice impersonations, such as those of presidents Obama, Reagan, Clinton and Trump, to make the ring-shopping and wedding-planning experiences fun.
"If they can help make it easier for guys to get the dream ring for their girlfriend or fiancee, all the better," Kesselman says. "It's really, really satisfying to see someone walk out happy."
His ability to mimic came to light when he was a boy who could perform one of the most iconic laughs in cartoon history. "The most fun I had as a kid was always doing Woody Woodpecker," he says, launching into that cartoon character's signature laugh. "My parents were like, 'Stop watching TV and do your homework.' And I'm like, 'No, there's something here. There's something here.'"
After graduating from DePaul University in 1996, Kesselman went to Los Angeles. He worked in sports for television stations and landed a spot in a commercial for flavored water. But his big break came in 2004, when he auditioned for "Family Guy" to provide a variety of voices.
"My talent is really specific," Kesselman says, explaining how he's better with sounds and single words than he is with monologues. "I was lucky a lot of my voices were close to Seth MacFarlane."
The creator of "Family Guy," MacFarlane also hired Kesselman to do voices on "American Dad!" and "The Cleveland Show."
"It's very satisfying," Kesselman says of his transition from cartoon voices to wedding planner. "As much as I love being on 'Family Guy,' helping people understand what they're doing with this is 10 times more gratifying than what I've done behind the microphone."