Everything About Kelsey Grammer’s Sketch Show Was Pretty Great Except for Kelsey Grammer
It still feels like a half-remembered fever dream. Back in 2005, Kelsey Grammer produced a half-hour primetime sketch comedy series for the Fox network, bafflingly titled Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show — because who better to headline a hip new sketch show than a middle-aged actor best known for playing Frasier Crane in roughly 500 shows that in no way involved sketch comedy? Seemingly, his only sketch-related experience was the time he hosted SNL and crooned about “gonads.”
While this bizarre televised experiment lasted for only a handful of episodes before ending as disastrously as your average Crane family dinner party, in retrospect, the show also had some major positives. For one thing, Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show was a remake of a proven British series, simply called The Sketch Show — but presumably some network executive thought that American audiences wouldn’t be able to buy into the concept of “sketch comedy” without that sweet Grammer branding.
In retrospect, the show impressively assembled a killer cast of performers, including Kaitlin Olson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Malcolm Barrett and a young, mustache-less Paul F. Tompkins, who, at that point, had already appeared on Mr. Show, the acclaimed sketch comedy show that somehow got made without a single endorsement from a former Cheers cast member.
Grammer’s role, meanwhile, was mostly relegated to brief segments bookending each episode — the series premiere, for example, opened with the future Money Plane star lying in a hospital bed, getting his junk scrubbed by a nurse.
But the rest of the show is pretty funny — an assortment of rapid-fire skits, some good, some bad, but overall made enjoyable by the talented cast, which also included British comic Lee Mack from the original series.
The making of Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show, however, sounds decidedly less fun. As Tompkins recounted on the Friends Talk Frasier and Feelings podcast, “It was not a great show, and it was a weird experience.” Apparently, most of the production was based in London, so they could reuse sets from the original show, lest Fox be burdened with having to construct some fake living rooms and a cardboard airport security kiosk in L.A.
Worse yet, this slavish attempt to reproduce the original sketches but with new performers who don’t spell color with a “u,” resulted in the cast being directed to “reproduce line readings of the original jokes.” And after shooting the bulk of the series for two months, they flew to L.A. to “shoot the wrap-arounds with Kelsey” in just one day, immediately after landing. Meaning that the cast was super jet-lagged for all the scenes featuring Grammer.
Unsurprisingly, the show was quickly canceled — or, to put it in Frasier parlance, Grammer got scrambled eggs all over his face.
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