Like all good fans of the Kids in the Hall, I’ve been rooting for every member of the troupe to find success since they mostly dissolved their partnership in the mid-1990s. The fan culture surrounding KitH really is not far removed from those who love(d) Monty Python before them - we love seeing the various members pop up in anything and everything, but we really love it when they show up together (this is usually in pairs, Dave Foley & Kevin MacDonald, Mark McKinney & Bruce McCullogh, and Scott Thompson & his lisp). The same can’t really be said for SNL or “MadTV” alumnae, Bill Murray being the exception to every rule man has ever concocted to make sense of the world.
Dave Foley was the easiest to root for at first, and not just because he has always been my personal favorite. Yes, it was a drag that his role on “Newsradio” (and his growing apathy toward sketch comedy), for all intents and purposes, caused the group to lose their united KitH identity, but the sitcom is nearly as legendary as “The Kids in the Hall” will ever be, so his fans have given him a pass. Unfortunately, that did not translate into more mainstream success. What happened next to Foley’s career is well illustrated in Nathan Rabin’s entry on The Wrong Guy for the A.V. Club’s My Year of Flops, so I won’t go into that here. Nevertheless, he’s worked ubiquitously in smaller and smaller roles, in worse and worse films, which made it a nice surprise to see Canada’s Best Export on this year’s season finale of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” as Marshall’s (Jason Segel) possible new boss at the National Resources Defense Council. On every review and comment section for that episode that I read, the call seemed to be unanimous: More Dave Foley, Please!
Instead, a pilot Dave Foley worked on, also for CBS, was picked up for the fall, which booked up the actor’s schedule for at least the beginning of the 2011-2012 TV season. The new sitcom, co-created by David “Rickety Cricket on ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’” Hornsby, is “How To Be a Gentleman,” which looks to be no better or worse than the recently canceled “Mad Love.” I suppose it might be possible that the power of Foley is one reason the show got picked up at all, but I still think the emerging situation is a bit of a shame, really, and possibly fate’s most recent crack at the former-Mr. Heavy Foot’s expense. “Mother” is a no-brainer, that show’s got two seasons left. At least. “Gentleman,” like all new series, is more likely to fail than succeed. For Dave Foley’s sake, I hope his show takes off and becomes a hit, regardless of its final quality. Because…
According to Vulture, the position at the HIMYM universe’s NRDC has just been filled by Martin Short. This is really neither exciting nor upsetting. With Martin Short, you know exactly what you’re going to get. First he’ll start off as manic, possibly crass, while eventually turning into the skid and going bombastic, then bringing it down to a quiet intensity, possibly while eating some humble pie - but never losing that wide, wild-eyed expression that just barely holds back the smirk. I like Martin Short, but he doesn’t play characters anymore, now he just plays his interview persona to varying degrees. Basically like Robin Williams. Foley will do absolutely anything for a laugh, which is the kind of vibe HIMYM thrives upon.
Say la vee.
Good luck to both Foley and Short, though one definitely needs it more than the other. And if fans are vociferously unhappy about this news, one should keep in mind that things could almost always be worse. After all, Marshall’s new boss could be Ashton Kutcher.
Rob Payne writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, co-hosts the internet radio show/podcast We’re Not Fanboys, and is on Twitter @RobOfWar. He also recommends listening to Foley’s appearance on Marc Maron’s podcast, but that you steel yourself with a couple shots of bourbon first.