It started with a helmet. The armor and fame followed.
Tim Brehmer, a standup comedian from Toluca Lake, said he was pulled over by a police officer for skateboarding without a helmet in spring 2020. The officer, Brehmer explained, threatened him with a ticket unless he started wearing head protection.
The next time Brehmer saw the officer, he was wearing a helmet straight out of “Star Wars.” Specifically, he fashioned it after the one worn by the titular character in “The Mandalorian,” a hit show streamed on the Disney+ service. Eventually, Brehmer added armor to his ensemble and strapped a Grogu doll — the alien child often casually referred to by the show’s viewers, somewhat erroneously, as “Baby Yoda” — to his chest.
Traveling up to 30 mph through Los Angeles and Burbank on an electric skateboard, and often spotted on the Chandler Bikeway in Burbank, Brehmer has become something of a local legend. Some families, he said, wait on the bike path, hoping to see him — one boy explained it was his birthday.
That legend is part of the idea behind wearing the helmet and armor, Brehmer said, explaining he was influenced by TV show “Falling Skies,” in which a major character becomes a masked vigilante and inspires others.
“If you just find out it’s a guy … trying to live a mid-life crisis he can’t afford, it’s not that funny,” he explained. “But if you’re like, ‘No, it’s a kid,’ ‘No, it’s a guy,’ ‘No, it’s a [social media influencer] Tik-Tocker,’ ‘No, it’s actually [“Mandalorian” star] Pedro Pascal; it’s just for the show,’ there’s so much more to talk about other than just Trump and COVID.”
Though Brehmer said people have responded overwhelmingly positive to the armor, it’s also gotten him in some trouble at times. While skateboarding in Beverly Hills, a police officer stopped him after someone reported Brehmer, believing the doll wrapped to his chest was a real child.
But for many, Brehmer said, seeing the Mandalorian brightens their day. He explained that one man messaged him who said three of his family members had died due to COVID-19. But, the man said, when Brehmer zoomed past him in costume and gave a salute, it made his day “instantly better.”
“When I roll past a kid and he goes, ‘Ha-ha!’ and I see that … their day is better, then that means I was meant to be here that day,” Brehmer said.
Brehmer said he plans to wear the Mandalorian armor “until people are like, ‘Dude, that’s enough,’” adding that he hopes to buy a minibike and modify it to make it look like a speeder, a hovering vehicle from the “Star Wars” universe.
Part of the comic’s love for the persona is that it’s uplifting to him as well as others. Spreading joy on a skateboard while wearing a helmet and armor is like “medicine” for his depression, Brehmer said. He hopes others will be similarly encouraging, even if they’re not dressed like a science-fiction bounty hunter.
“What legacy are you going to leave?” he asked. “If you see somebody or a group of people who don’t look like they’re having a good day, all I ask is wave and smile, because if somebody — not everybody with depression, but with mine — if I’m walking down the street and someone smiles at me, I’m alive to that human being, and that can save a life.”