Back on an American TV series, the ex-Kid in the Hall describes the tricky art of career navigation.
The Kid in the Hall is now playing a boss in the office.
Self-described “comedian from the ’90s” Dave Foley is returning to TV to play a beleaguered magazine editor in the new CBS/Global sitcom How to Be a Gentleman. “He’s terrified of being fired, because if you get fired in this environment you never get hired again at 50,” explains the former cross-dressing Canadian comic and NewsRadio star. “I definitely related. I’m 48 and I became famous as someone who looked 17. So I’ve lived through that period of trying to get people to accept me as an older man. The thing about show business is that whatever you are when you get famous, you’re expected to stay that way. Wayne Knight [Newman on Seinfeld] is a friend of mine. He got famous when he was dangerously overweight, then he lost weight and couldn’t get work. He had to gain weight again in order to get a job. It’s very sad.”
Dave’s about the dolla, dolla bill, y’all!
Though he’s clocked guest-spots on U.S. comedies like How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—not to mention last year’s Kids reunion, Death Comes to Town—this is Foley’s first ongoing TV series gig in ages. “There’s nothing like that sort of a paycheque to make you feel good about yourself,” he half-jokes. “I’ve somehow managed to wind up on another good show with another great ensemble cast—which is delightful because I would’ve happily done a really bad show, a show where cattle feces was dropped on my head for a half-hour.”
He’s not totally comfortable returning to his home and native land.
Last winter, Foley revealed on comedian Marc Maron’s WTF podcast that he fears arrest if he comes to Canada, because of a half-million dollars in child support owed to The Globe and Mail columnist Tabatha Southey, whom he divorced in 1997. “Which is still the case, really,” he says. “I’m only just starting to get paid for this new show. For the last several years I’ve been ordered by the court to pay like five times what I earn.” According to published reports, the court kept his monthly payments at $17,000, even after his NewsRadio earnings dried up and his film career faltered. “I showed them the same documentation I showed the IRS,” he says. “Everything I earn shows up on IMDB, so it’s impossible for someone like me to hide any income. But it didn’t matter. I had a judge who ruled my ability to pay was not relevant to my obligation. I have a daughter here in the United States who is basically not getting any money because all the money is going to Canada to my other two children.”
He’s not surprised that people still watch NewsRadio.
Kids in the Hall may have made him an iconic comic, but his five seasons as the straight-man station manager on NBC’s cult workplace comedy NewsRadio made him a star. “We had a slightly misguided sense that we were the punk-rock show on network TV, like we were just a weird group of people against everybody else.” But Foley adds that the radio setting was “absolutely unimportant” to the show’s success, and that Gentleman’s premise doesn’t matter, either. “That’s the thing about sitcoms that networks don’t really catch onto. If you were to pitch The Mary Tyler Moore Show, they’d be like, “Who would want to watch a show about a Minneapolis news team?” But it doesn’t matter. It’s who the characters are and whether the writing is good. The setting is incidental.”