Chip Esten

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Charles Esten
Chip Esten - Nashville Live.jpg
Esten in May 2014, in New York, New York.
BornCharles Esten Puskar III
(1965-09-09) September 9, 1965 (age 49)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma materCollege of William and Mary
OccupationActor, comedian, singer
Years active1989–present
Spouse(s)Patty Hanson (1991–present)
ChildrenTaylor, Addie, Chase
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Charles Esten
Chip Esten - Nashville Live.jpg
Esten in May 2014, in New York, New York.
BornCharles Esten Puskar III
(1965-09-09) September 9, 1965 (age 49)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma materCollege of William and Mary
OccupationActor, comedian, singer
Years active1989–present
Spouse(s)Patty Hanson (1991–present)
ChildrenTaylor, Addie, Chase

Charles Esten Puskar III (born September 9, 1965), known professionally as Chip Esten, is an American comedian, actor and singer known for his appearances on the improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway?.[1]

Esten is known by his nickname "Chip" in improv comedy shows but is always credited as "Charles Esten".

Esten is currently playing Deacon Claybourne on ABC's Nashville.

Early life[edit]

Esten in September 2005.

Esten was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to Alexandria, Virginia at age 9 after his parents divorced;[2] he and his younger sister were singlehandedly raised by their mother.[3] His late father, Charles "Chuck", was a prominent local businessman and business partner of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Ray Mansfield.[4] He attended T.C. Williams High School and his parents' and sister's alma mater, the College of William and Mary, where he was a brother of Theta Delta Chi fraternity and graduated with a degree in economics in 1987.[3] At William and Mary, he was the lead vocalist in the band N'est Pas from 1985 until 1988. Following graduation, Esten moved to the United Kingdom to make his theatrical debut, playing the title role in the musical Buddy in the early 1990s.


Whose Line Is It Anyway?[edit]

In 1992, the makers of Whose Line Is It Anyway? asked him to audition for an episode, which he did successfully. Consequently, Esten made his debut on the Channel 4 show in the fourth series and "won" the episode. He subsequently appeared in more episodes later the same year when the show did a run in New York. At the time, the show needed a second specialist improvisational singer to fill in for Mike McShane.

Esten made his final appearance in the UK edition in 1994 before moving back to the US and playing the role of Luke in Party of Five. Although appearing on stage and screen thereafter, it was his 1999 return to Whose Line Is It Anyway?—in the show's new-look American format, with Drew Carey as host—which established him with a mainstream American audience. He was a regular "fourth contestant" on the show.

Other comedy work[edit]

Following his return to Whose Line Is It Anyway, Esten made a guest appearance as himself with fellow regular cast members from the show Wayne Brady, Greg Proops and Brad Sherwood on The Drew Carey Show. In 2003, he hosted a semi-scripted semi-improvised comedy mini series called On the Spot. Between 2004 and 2006, he was a member of the touring group Improv All-Stars[5][6] and recurring cast member on Drew Carey's Green Screen Show. In 2011, he was a regular on Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza on GSN.

He, Proops and former colleagues Ryan Stiles and Jeff Davis regularly team up and tour around the country doing live improv under the name Whose Live Anyway?. In April 2014, Esten ceased work with Whose Live Anyway?, and was replaced by Joel Murray.

Film appearances[edit]

In 2001, Esten appeared in Billy Crystal's TV movie 61* as Kevin Maris, the son of legendary New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris.

Esten had small roles in three Kevin Costner movies, The Postman, Thirteen Days as downed U-2 pilot Major Rudolf Anderson, and Swing Vote.

Esten also starred in a public service video, "Riding Straight", produced for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's curriculum, Motorcycle Rider Course: Riding and Street Skills (MRC:RSS). Esten portrayed a surfer dude, a snuff-dipping hick, and a concerned friend in a bar.


Esten has appeared as a guest star in various TV series, including The New Adventures of Old Christine, Star Trek: Voyager, ER, NCIS: Los Angeles, Jessie, The Mentalist, and The Office.[7]

He also appeared as a contestant on at least 4 (12/13 through 12/16/88) episodes of the game show Sale of the Century, credited as Chip Puskar, having won about $34,000 in cash and prizes. An appearance on Scrabble followed in 1990 during its final week.

In 2014, Esten appeared as a celebrity contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and won $500,000 for his charity, tying him with Rosie O'Donnell, Drew Carey, and Norm MacDonald for the most money won by a celebrity in one appearance on the show.

He played Kelly's fiance' Lonnie on Married... with Children in the series' finale in 1997. He currently plays Deacon Claybourne on Nashville.

Personal life[edit]

Esten is married to Patty,[8] whom he met in college.[3] They reside in Sherman Oaks, California with their daughters Taylor and Addie and son Chase.[4]


Comedy Shows[edit]

1992, 1994Whose Line Is It Anyway? (UK version)Performer5 episodes
1999-2005Whose Line Is It Anyway (US version)Performer39 episodes
2004-2005Drew Carey's Green Screen ShowRecurring performer8 episodes
2011Drew Carey's Improv-A-GanzaRegular performer32 episodes


1988Sale of the CenturyHimself/Contestant4 episodes
1989On the Televisionvarious5 episodes
1990ScrabbleHimself/Contestant1 episode
1993CheersUnnamed Marine1 episode
Star Trek: The Next GenerationDivok1 episode
1994Murphy BrownSecretary #671 episode
1995-1996The CrewRandy Anderson21 episodes
1996Star Trek: VoyagerDathan1 episode
Diagnosis: MurderJoe Carter1 episode
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanEthan PressEpisode 75 "Stop the Presses"
1997JAGLieutenant Pete 'Pistol' Ayers1 episode
Married... with ChildrenLonnie2 episodes
1998-2000The Brian Benben ShowChad Rockwell7 episodes
1999JesseTad1 episode
Jack & JillNick Seraph1 episode
ProvidenceTed Shannon1 episode
2000Party of FiveLuke7 episodes
2000-2001The Drew Carey ShowHimself (guest appearance)2 episodes
2002The GuardianMark Hanson1 episode
2003On the SpotHimself (host)5 episodes
DragnetCarl Savitsky1 episode
Just Shoot Me!Jake1 episode
2004NYPD BlueTim Keating1 episode
Cold CaseJohn "The Hawk" Hawkins1 episode
2006The OfficeJosh Porter7 episodes
2007Help Me Help YouWillis1 episode
The WinnerGary1 episode
The New Adventures of Old ChristineJoe Campbell2 episodes
2007-2008ERDr. Barry Grossman4 episodes
2009-2010Big LoveRay Henry11 episodes
2009The MentalistRick Bregman1 episode
The CleanerDr. Jake Slovak1 episode
NCIS: Los AngelesJohn Cole/Ethan Stanhope1 episode
2011WilfredNick2 episodes
2011JessieMorgan Ross4 episodes
EnlightenedDamon Manning
2012–presentNashvilleDeacon ClaybourneSeries Regular


1997The Sleepwalker KillingMark Schall
The PostmanMichael
1999The ExpendablesRam
Late Last NightUnnamed policeman
2000Thirteen DaysMaj. Rudolf Anderson
200161*Kevin Maris (1998)
2002The Johnny ChroniclesPatrick Monroe
Ten Minutes Older: The TrumpetBill"Twelve Miles to Trona" segment
2003Nobody Knows Anything!Connor Fulton
2007American FamilyLarry Bogner
20081%John Tipton
Swing VoteLewis



YearSinglePeak chart
US Country
2012"Undermine" (with Hayden Panettiere)A35116The Music of Nashville: Season 1 Volume 1
"No One Will Ever Love You" (with Connie Britton)A36117
2013"This Town" (with Clare Bowen)41The Music of Nashville: Season 2, Volume 1,_Volume_1
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


External links[edit]