Acknowledging anything positive about Bill Cosby isn’t exactly in vogue, but Marc Price admits it: His show-business success can be attributed to The Coz. At least partly.
Price played nerdy sidekick Skippy on the Michael J. Fox family sitcom “Family Ties.”
If it weren’t for “The Cosby Show,” few viewers would remember that ’80s trivia nugget. Price, who will perform stand-up comedy in Boise on Feb. 16, claims that “nobody” saw the first two seasons of “Family Ties.”
That changed when NBC moved “Family Ties” into the time slot following “Cosby.” Suddenly, all of America knew about young Republican Alex Keaton, his sister Mallory — and their neighbor, Skippy.
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The young actors even got a little cocky, Price says. After three years riding the “Cosby” wave, “Family Ties” was moved into its own headlining slot against CBS’ “Murder She Wrote.”
“I’m 19, 20, whatever, and we just think that we’re going to brutalize ‘Murder She Wrote,’ ” Price recalls with a chuckle. “And much to our surprise — and very little talked about in the press and stuff — we tanked there. And two years later, we weren’t on the air anymore.”
Phoning from the home of Boise comedian Kaz Gable — the two are on a weeklong tour of Idaho — Price, now 47, speaks fondly about his TV heyday.
More than a quarter century later, Skippy still serves as an “in” for Price’s career. His comedy trek is called “The Fresh Jar of Skippy Tour.” But the truth is, Price mostly steers clear of “Family Ties” references on stage.
“I did Mallory jokes,” Price says. “If they still worked, I’d still do them. Young people don’t know the show.”
Price grew up around stand-up. As a kid, he worked with George Burns and Milton Berle, he says. He saw Jay Leno, David Brenner and Robert Klein in action.
“When I was 14, I went on ‘The Merv Griffin Show’ — before ‘Family Ties,’ ” Price says. “That’s how they found me for ‘Family Ties.’ I came out, I had my Jerry Seinfeld outfit with the sneakers and the tie and the jacket and the sleeves rolled up a little bit. And then I did this weird set. ... It (was) very badump-bumpy.”
In the decades since “Family Ties,” Price has hosted, written and produced television. And he’s performed stand-up. Price hit it off with Gable, winner of 2014’s “Boise’s Funniest Person” competition, when they were booked at a Washington gig last year. Now they’re on a performance run through Idaho towns such as Jerome, Stanley, Twin Falls and Boise. “If this week goes well, we’ll do Utah and Colorado next,” Price says.
Price is single. Gable has a wife and 2-year-old son. That dichotomy has generated joke fodder, Price says. While staying with Gable, he’s learned that comedians and toddlers have similar schedules. “A lot of naps,” he explains. “You wake up in the morning, you play a little bit, you take a nap. You wake up, you go outside, you catch lunch. You take another nap. It turns out, I share the lifestyle.”
Price enjoys “scenic grandeur,” so he’s loving his Idaho adventure. The fame of “Family Ties” is a distant memory, but he sounds content. Price has a niche in the entertainment universe.
“People that know me from the TV show, they saw me in my awkward teen years,” Price says. “So they come out and see me live, and they get to see me in my awkward adult years.”
Ticket details are on pages 36 and 37: Leon Russell, May 18, Revolution Center; Leon Bridges, May 30, Memorial Stadium (moved from Egyptian Theatre); Kansas, July 26, Revolution Center; Lord Huron/Trampled by Turtles, Aug. 17, Memorial Stadium.