The aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot has—largely—been the story of a glaring lack of consequences. Though numerous alleged rioters have been picked up or charged by the feds, and several major MAGA personalities have been bombarded with subpoenas and expensive lawsuits, many of the leaders and lawmakers behind Donald Trump and the Republicans’ attempted coup have escaped an actual reckoning.
After all, the leader of the failed coup, former President Trump, is still the undisputed and protected leader of his party, and his anti-democratic lies about the 2020 election continue to dominate the mainstream GOP’s priorities. The majority of the post-Jan. 6 consequences and jail time has been shouldered not by the leaders, but by the Capitol invaders who were on the ground that day at the then-president’s instruction.
But just because Donald Trump managed to escape a reckoning doesn’t mean Jimmy Pesto did.
One of these alleged Jan. 6 participants who has paid some sort of price for the violent events of that day is none other than Jay Johnston, an actor and comedian whose credits include beloved TV series and movies such as Mr. Show, Arrested Development, and Anchorman.
According to two people familiar with the matter, top staff at the long-running animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers are no longer allowing Johnston to voice his recurring character—Jimmy Pesto Sr.—on the critically lauded Fox show. One of the sources described it as a “ban.” The other individual familiar with the matter described the situation similarly, adding that the Bob’s Burgers cast and crew, as well as Fox, were not looking to make “a big deal” about the current blacklisting of the apparent insurrection-attendee.
The character of Jimmy Pesto Sr. had become a Bob’s Burgers fan favorite since his debut in the show’s first season. He’s the owner of Jimmy Pesto’s Pizzeria, a successful and comparatively “classy” establishment that gives Bob headaches; a loud and proud Italian, sporting Italian flag underwear and an Italian flag tie; and the oddball foil to Bob. Whereas Bob is a hard-working family man, Pesto changed his last name to make it seem more Italian, is a divorced dad who ignores his three sons, and is a sexual deviant with a lifetime membership to the local fetish club Desire Dungeon, where he’s known as “Baby Num-Num,” the diaper lover.
Johnston, 53, had voiced Pesto in a grand total of 43 episodes of Bob’s Burgers over the course of its first 11 seasons. He last appeared in the Season 11 episode “The Bridge Over Troubled Rudy,” which aired on May 2, 2021, and has been noticeably absent from the show’s 12th season.
On Friday, a Fox spokesperson simply told The Daily Beast, “Thanks for reaching out, FOX has no comment” on this story, and a Disney spokesperson similarly replied, “We will not be providing a comment.” Johnston could not be reached for comment, and phone calls were not returned as of Friday afternoon.
Johnston, Fox and the staff of Bob’s Burgers have never publicly confirmed that that was, in fact, Johnston’s face that the FBI published in a poster soliciting tips about a possible riot suspect. Johnston has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
His name first surfaced as a potential participant in the insurrection when web sleuths identified the comedy actor as a suspected rioter seen in an FBI poster on March 4 and in video of the riot filmed near the Capitol steps. In the footage, a man wearing a green leather jacket and camouflage neck gaiter—dubbed suspect number 247 by the Bureau—is visible alongside rioters taking pictures as Trump supporters push their way toward the building in front of scaffolding set up for the forthcoming inauguration.
“I’m no detective, but I do know Jay. He said he was there. And that’s him in the picture. So…” Cassandra Church, an actress who worked alongside Johnston on the show Harmontown, tweeted in March. Spencer Crittenden, another former Harmontown colleague of Johnston’s, wrote that the actor’s “also a craven Trump supporter and was there at the time” in a since-deleted tweet.
Tim Heidecker, an actor and comedy writer who guest-starred on Bob’s Burgers, tweeted that he had “fully confirmed through reliable sources” that the man in the FBI poster was Johnston and added “it’s Jay.” Heidecker subsequently deleted the posts because, he said, his tweet “was a reply to someone who asked and shouldn’t be used as some kind of official source of information or verification.”
In addition to his reputed fondness for Trump, Johnston is also an associate of Gavin McInnes and appeared on his now-defunct show in 2015. McInnes is the founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group which saw over 60 of its members arrested in connection with the Capitol insurrection. McInnes has since tried to distance himself from the group.