From invoice Nye the Science male to the day the space Needle collapsed, us recall 15 year of trials and also triumphs ~ above the set of Seattle’s Saturday Night Live.

You are watching: Almost live cast member dies on set

ByMatthew Halverson, James Ross Gardner, Laura Dannen, and Cassie CallanMay 17, 2013Published in the June 2013 issue ofSeattle Met


It was constantly on.

Ask sufficient people about Almost Live!, the Seattle lay out comedy present that both skewered and also defined western Washington indigenous 1984 come 1999 (and in perpetuity in reruns), and it starts to sound favor the test pattern on every TV screen after hours. It’s tough to evaluate something till it’s gone—and Almost Live! has actually never left. End 15 seasons on KING-TV, the local NBC affiliate, the series went indigenous a bare-bones talk present on Sunday night to the lead-in because that Saturday Night Live, acquisition over the desire 11:30 time slot and winning much more local Emmys 보다 the actors could draw home. (A few trophies ended up in ~ Goodwill.) 

With the hyperlocal humor—sending increase Ballard and Kent through equal abandon—Almost Live! would transmit regional pop culture nationally at a time as soon as everyone wanted a piece of ours grungy city. TV stars Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) and also Lauren Weedman (The day-to-day Show, Hung) would reduced their this doing Seattle sketch; for this reason did authors Jim Sharp and Bob Nelson, that would go on to prominence at Comedy main and as a screenwriter, respectively. (Nelson penned Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, out this year.) and also thanks come a conversation roughly the Almost Live! writers’ table, invoice Nye will forever be recognized as “the science Guy.”

There’s constantly rumor of one Almost Live! reunion, and when late-night sketch present The <206> debuted in January with AL! alum man Keister and also Pat Cashman, we wondered: might Almost Live! it is in back? 

But ~ interviewing a dozen cast members, crew, and also fans that the long-running show, it came to be clear that nothing will ever before replace Almost Live! It to be a product the a one-of-a-kind time and also place in Seattle—one we’re free to relive every Sunday in ~ 1:05am. —Laura Dannen



1983 The story start in 1983, with family-run KING-TV anxious to develop a neighborhood pilot. The will initially be dubbed Take Five.

Ross Shafer (original host, 1984–89): Al Wallace had actually a present called How Come? top top Sundays at 6 for years, and also then that died. So they basically had to fill some time.

Steve Wilson (director, 1984–99): It was my tip to do a neighborhood Letterman thing, where we had a comedian hosting it, and also we had actually a band. See, ns loved Letterman when he came on. I loved Carson, and then i loved Letterman much more because i was young in ~ the time and Letterman was a i know well Carson, so…we hired Ross Shafer. He had won the regional standup comedy competition. 

Ross Shafer: I had to take quite a cut in pay to perform it. Ns was touring together an opened act for Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross. Some big-name people. I was make really an excellent money, so when I found out what they to be willing to pay, that was...Wow, ns going to need to make a 3rd of what i was currently making to go on television? i thought, i don’t think I can do this. I have actually a family. I have children to support. I’m not going to be able to do it by going on TV. Mine agent, john Powell, said, “No, you don’t understand what this would do, v the exposure.” So ns went in addition to it. 

Nancy Guppy (cast, 1988–89 and 1992–99): Ross was type of prefer Miami Vice. He had actually a Ferrari. This was the ’80s.

Joe Guppy (cast, 1985–89): It to be red, ns think. I was in it one time. It to be loud, uncomfortable. 


1984  practically Live! debuts in the loss of 1984, acquisition over king 6–7 slot on Sunday evenings.

Steve Wilson: That was, at the time, known as the tv ghetto, since it to be a lead-in to CBS’s 60 Minutes, which to be pretty lot a juggernaut at 7. It to be like, five my god, this is never going come work. We’re up versus Town conference with Ken Schram , which was unstoppable. … We’re placing on this two-bit, penny-ante comedy-music speak show. 

Ross Shafer: ns didn’t think that was really good, frankly.

Pat Cashman (cast, 1986–99): If girlfriend look at few of the at an early stage Almost Live! stuff, it’s nearly painful to watch.

Ross Shafer: I would interview 2 or three guests, and we would certainly insert little comedy segments, live comedy segments. … Twenty-two minutes, but it felt prefer 22 hours for every episode. By the time we perfect an episode, wednesday look at each other and go, “We need to do this again following week? Where perform we start?” Fortunately, among the males I had actually hired as a head writer, Jim Sharp—whose previous suffer was together a background teacher at port Orchard—was a funny guy.

Jim sharp (head writer, 1984–88; executive producer 1992–93): ns taught institution for three years appropriate out that college. I checked out the university of Puget Sound in Tacoma. During graduation, they put you in alphabet order when you line up, or at the very least they walk then. And “Sharp” and “Shafer.” ns was standing next to Ross Shafer.


Jim spicy joins as head writer and later i do not care the an elderly vice chairman of initial programming and advancement at Comedy Central. The Almost Live! team proceeds to grow, adding producer bill Stainton and John Keister, climate a music writer because that The Rocket newsweekly and an on-air correspondent because that REV (short for “Rock entertain Video”). 

Ross Shafer: we knew it was an uphill battle, because the press, once we aired the first real episode, says, “Almost Live Arrives nearly Dead.” So us knew we were do the efforts to carry out something the made people go, “Oh really? girlfriend think you have the right to do this? clock the Letterman show. Clock The tonight Show. That’s exactly how you do it.” 

Bill Stainton (executive producer, 1985–99): The owner that KING at the time, Dorothy Bullitt, wasn’t even a large fan the Almost Live!, yet she to be a vast fan that local. There to be a most support. Plus, the time was yes, really good. There to be really just three train station at the time. There to be KING, KOMO, and also KIRO. So we might afford come suck because that the first couple years. And also we did.


As they work out the kinks, a brand-new star emerges.

Joe Guppy: While Almost Live! was working out this talk display format, the video clip pieces that john was law were just outstanding. The video clip comedy to be really good from work one. He to be doing few of the most cool, innovative, interesting video stuff. 

John Keister: i think the one that thrust it end the edge to be the parody that Miami Vice referred to as Ballard Vice. We had actually Jim Zorn and also Michael Jackson indigenous the Seahawks, these large local people, and they especially wanted to it is in on this sketches ns was doing. 

Ross Shafer: We got an audience since we were talking about our neighborhood community. We were offer our customers, you can say. And also they kept tuning in to see what rather we would do.  


1985  man recruits Joe Guppy, a founding member of regional improv comedy troupe off the wall Players, in 1985. His future wife, Nancy Guppy, isn’t much behind.

Nancy Guppy: I took an acting course at Seattle central Community College once I was functioning at Nordstrom, post-college. Ns didn’t favor what i was doing, so i took an acting class simply to do something different. At that time, I had seen Joe’s off the wall Players and I finished up conference him. We got interested in each other, we start to date. He’s simply getting involved with Almost Live!; i’m just starting to get in the human being of theater and performance. I was still functioning at Nordstrom, and whenever castle needed an additional woman—because they had actually only two other women on employee at the point—he would speak to me and say, “Hey, deserve to you get off Thursday at 2 come come down to do this shoot and play Ross’s wife?” or whatever. That’s exactly how I obtained into it.

Ross Shafer: i think in the second year we gained a brand-new set. Castle took us seriously enough to give us a small money for a brand-new set. And they paid the band. I don’t think they payment them the very first year. … We had actually to borrow devices from the news department. Cameras. Us didn’t have any cameras. We had actually no gear, no microphones. Once they weren’t using it, we’d go out and also see if we might borrow it to shoot. We begged and borrowed and also stole things. Wednesday haul people out of a meeting and also say, “We need an additional person in this sketch. Deserve to you come out in the hallway for five minutes? just walk by and don’t say anything, and then you have the right to go back to her meeting.”

Terry Murphy (story producer, Evening Magazine, 1986–90): You would certainly be sit at your desk and also John Keister would certainly come as much as you and say, carry out you mind if we host a total to her head and also you pretend she a receptionist? you will do say, Okay, fine.

1986  through 1986, Almost Live! has added Pat Cashman, then–creative director at KING, and also former Boeing engineer bill Nye as full-time actors members. 

Jim Sharp: bill really had a enthusiasm for comedy. He to be trying to do standup.

Bill Nye (cast, 1986–91): I started doing standup after winning the Steve martin look-alike contest in 1978. 

Jim Sharp: and also he want to it is in a writer top top the show. 

Bill Nye: I was submitting jokes. I used to have a saying: “If you’re awake, you should be working.” together I watch back, it no the finest saying.

Jim Sharp: bill was always hanging out. I think it to be Ross who said to him in ~ one point, that said, “Bill, what carry out you love? Science. Right? you love science.” and also Bill goes, “Yeah.” he goes, “Okay, it is it. That’s what you’re going to emphasis on, it is what you are going come do. You space Bill Nye the scientific research Guy.”

Bill Nye: i was a large Brother, and also I would certainly volunteer in ~ the Pacific Science center on weekends, together what they called a science Explainer. I wore a vest. “So Bill, you can do that thing you execute at the science center.” This is Ross talking. “You could be, like, bill Nye the scientific research Guy. Well, ns gotta go.” and also he folds up his briefcase and goes to KJR. And also I go, “Wow, that’s it, man!” so I checked out Hammer Uniform or part costume shop and I acquired a rap coat, and also I had actually safety glasses from my day task at Sundstrand Data Control.

Terry Murphy: He to be a nerd then and he continues to be a nerd today.

Bill Nye: ns would just do standard science demonstrations pull up: “Here, jump turn off of this communication onto a record bag full of air, and also it will cushion your fall like an airbag top top a steering wheel.” “Here, cave from this vacuum chamber, and when the air’s let back in, you will do it fall ago down.” “Here, let’s blow up bubbles through hydrogen, because they’ll explode.” these are classic kooky things.

Bill Stainton: The only time anyone stated no to us was when we tried to make funny of automobile dealers. You couldn’t make funny of automobile dealers since they bought ads.


Well right into season five, in 1989, Ross Shafer receives an sell to take it over for Joan Rivers together the organize of Fox’s Late Show

Bill Nye: Joan Rivers functioned for Barry Diller. They had some fall out, and he rental Ross to replace Joan Rivers. Ross brought Jim sharp down. 

Nancy Guppy: Scott Schaefer, who is a ahead Almost Live! guy, additionally went down to LA with Ross.   

Bill Nye: Ross left the show, and he type of burned a bridge. But people have obtained over it.

Ross Shafer: The requirements of Hollywood. I was not ready. What that supposed was, “Okay, we require you down below in three days to start your task immediately.” ns didn’t realize that that was going to be the case. … ns wish ns had construed that Hollywood have the right to wait.

Bill Stainton: that did leave us in the lurch due to the fact that it was the day prior to a taping, ns think. … the said, looking earlier on that now, he obtained the gig the a lifetime. He obtained to be Johnny Carson. He obtained a national talk show. That was one of those things where lock said, “We need you down here now.” therefore of course you’re going to take it.

Joe Guppy: and he wanted man to it is in his cohost, favor his Ed McMahon.

John Keister: Ross invite me to come down for a pair weeks. I had actually asked KING, room you walk to make me the host? and they didn’t have an answer. They can not say yes. They to be trying people out. I thought, Well, okay, if they’re going to shot people out, okay, ns going down there. 


The Northwest guys head come Tinseltown. 

Jim Sharp: I ended up with Joan Rivers’s old office. It to be this large office that had actually all pink furniture and also looked appropriate out in ~ the Hollywood sign. 

John Keister: She had actually a dressing room that was about the size of my house. We called it the condo. It had a agree area, a bedroom, a decision toilet record holder. Every little thing was yellow plated. 

John Keister: The thing was, my wife, who’s currently my ex-wife, to be pregnant with twins. Ns knew that if ns went under there that it to be going to it is in a 24-hours-a-day job. And also I’d need to move the kids and also her down there and also she’s no a Hollywood kind of person. I thought it would certainly be a catastrophe for the kids. It was a very complicated decision. 


Meanwhile…KING seeks a replacement for Ross Shafer as organize of Almost Live! 

Steve Wilson: they went v a entirety bunch of auditions. They carried in nationwide people, regional people. Cashman make the efforts out. 

John Keister: By the moment I came back to KING, they were just furious I had actually gone under to LA without questioning them. 

Steve Wilson: however they finally decided to go with Keister as the host, since he’d sort of been 2nd banana come Ross top top the talk show.

John Keister: i was like, Well, girlfriend know, i think this will certainly be the much better decision. 

Nancy Guppy: it was yes, really a disaster in a most ways. He was stepping right into Ross’s shoes—wearing the suit, gonna bring on comedians…that’s not John’s deal. He is a comedian, a goofball. 

Joe Guppy: ns wouldn’t contact it a disaster, by the way. I assumed it was moderately successful. 

John Keister: us were trying to reinvent TV due to the fact that we to be young and also no longer had actually these constraints placed on us, so we were really kind of ballsy. However people no interested in it. That was method over people’s heads. There were some funny bits but I wasn’t a very an excellent interviewer. Ns was concentrating greatly on the comedy.

Steve Wilson: he was awful as a talk display host. He to be terrible. Ns mean, seriously. He was seriously terrible. One year after the they were either going come cancel the display on Sundays, or we had to readjust it.

John Keister: The ratings began to plummet, and I thought, Aw, this is great. Ns turned down a high-paying project in LA come come earlier and operation this display into the ground.

Bill Stainton: in between season five and also season six, i went around and also around trying come think around how to fix the interviews. Perform we pour much more money into it? perform we hire a coach? and it lastly hit me what the problem was: i was tho trying to settle Ross’s show, and it to be no much longer Ross’s show. 

Ross Shafer: John had to action in and try to it is in a talk show host, and also he hated it. He was fortunate to transform it come an all-sketch show. Then background started gift made.



Eyes vast Shut The actors of nearly Live! ago row: Tracey Conway, Joel McHale, Nancy Guppy, Bob Nelson, beat Cashman. Prior row: invoice Stainton, john Keister, Steve Wilson.

Bill Stainton: What if we might just be a half hour of doing only what we perform best? We could make the display tighter and also play to our strengths. And also that additionally opened up the Saturday time slot because that us. We couldn’t push Saturday Night Live one hour, however we can push them back fifty percent an hour. Fortunately, again, the planets aligned. At the time, NBC was having actually a large problem with Leno and also Letterman. And the affiliates were yes, really ticked turn off at the network. For this reason the network to be doing something they can to keep the affiliates happy, particularly the significant affiliates favor Seattle. We went to them and also said, “What if we push SNL ago a half hour and also put this other present in there?” and also they said, “Sure, go ahead.”

Joe Guppy: as soon as this chance came increase to push Saturday Night Live, it was sort of weak at the time—which was an additional tremendous, happy shot for us.

Nancy Guppy: they would press it. John did 3 or 4 episodes that were directly sketch. That was the first time that had actually happened. And it did great

Bill Stainton: From that allude on, it to be John’s show.

John Keister: We started at 11:30, and then SNL began at midnight—the only place in the nation where the was happening. NBC claimed we’ll allow you perform it for six weeks. Us threw whatever into those six weeks. … We came up with some yes, really funny personalities like Billy Quan . That’s as soon as we did Ballard driving Academy and the High Five’n White men .

Terry Murphy: They used to make funny of Ballard a lot. That would constantly be the blue-haired woman behind the wheel who never ever turned turn off the left-hand signal ~ above the car. 

Steve Wilson: The one that civilization stop me in the grocery save for is the High Five’n White Guys. I was in every High Five’n White Guys. ... It was a heavily white masculine staff, however as far as white men go, ns the whitest. I’m the fucking whitest guy. … The White males came indigenous Ed Wyatt, who was a cast member and staff member. That come in native Super key weekend, and also he said, did anybody watch every the commercials end Super bowl weekend? Nothing however white males slapping hands and also having a beer. And also we were like, We have to do that. Us should just run about town and also just perform that however not have the beer.

Steve Wilson: The very first year, civilization hated us because they were missing Saturday Night Live: “What the hell is this? What the hell! Why perform we have to watch this crap?” 

John Keister: and then that stopped. The criticism quit really quickly. Climate it was changed with thank god we have that present to watch rather of crummy SNL. This pattern emerged that world would clock our show and then SNL till Weekend Update, and they would rotate off their TVs. ... We had actually this symbiotic relationship, and there was nobody up versus us. Nobody want to take on SNL.

Steve Wilson: instead of doing a David Letterman–like show, us did a Saturday Night Live–like show. Only it to be all regional humor. So civilization started to number it out: Well, lock making funny of us; this is sort of cool! 

John Keister: Coincidentally, together the 6 weeks’ meeting came, us won an award as the ideal local present in America. Looks prefer we do the best decision. 


1989 Except for the fateful day: April 1, 1989.

 Steve Wilson: five my god, the April Fool’s job sketch…

John Keister: There to be a expression at news organizations roughly town: “If the an are Needle falls down.” together in: i’m going top top vacation and also I don’t desire to hear from anyone uneven the space Needle falls down. So we thought, Let’s perform that! Let’s make the an are Needle loss down. 

Ross Shafer: man Keister make a model of the room Needle. It was made the end of cardboard. It was ridiculous. 

Bill Nye: A male named Hung, the Vietnamese descent… what’s his last name? He’s really skilled. He’s an extremely good. And he do what, in those days, we called a Paintbox. He made a really nice digital representation the the room Needle tipped over and also broken.

Steve Wilson: We execute the show, and also it interrupts: “We interrupt this program, lol blah blah to bring you a distinct report: The space Needle has fallen over. Nobody was hurt. One male was slightly injured. Again, the space Needle has fallen over. We’ll lug you news together it come by.” Then we went ago to the open, and John comes out in this live show, and all he states is, “Bummer about the Needle, huh?” Well, five my god.

Bill Stainton: ns was the last human who observed that script. I was the last person who observed that piece. There to be nobody above me saying, “Okay, let’s take a look at this.” maybe to your detriment.

Tracey Conway (cast, 1990–99): i wasn’t even aware of what Almost Live! was, due to the fact that you know, i was a theatre person. … The producer of the show, invoice Stainton, came down and said, We’re going to perform an April Fool’s spoof and we want to use deals with that no familiar. I require you to be on the street, prefer a witness on the street if the space Needle collapsed. Ns said, Yeah, I can do that. He basically said, simply say the you saw it sway and you recognize that the went over and be worried about it and also all that. I did one take and he said that’s great—well, maybe he didn’t say that’s great, it to be at the very least okay. Climate he said, currently go over the peak with it. I said, Fine, i’m going to usage my genuine acting chops. The tears and the whole thing. It is the one castle used. 

Bill Nye: human being freaked out! Phones to be jammed.

Steve Wilson: that jammed increase the 911 lines. World drove from Spokane thinking their daughter who’d waited there had actually been killed. … once we came ago from break—it’s a live show—I’m in the booth. The call rings. That the firm that does protection on weekends and also they said, What did girlfriend do? The police are calling. Ns like, Oh crap

Tracey Conway: Anybody who was listening yet not really paying fist on April Fool’s Day, all they heard to be someone mildly hysterical talking about the an are Needle collapsing. So the was my advent to Almost Live!

John Keister: The following day or two, the headlines—we had this repertoire on the wall surface of the Miami Herald, the Chicago Sun-Times—all these different headlines. “Seattle Panicked.”

Bill Nye: and it was April freaking first. April Fool’s Day! Come on!

Steve Wilson: The manager of the station came down; the made me erase the present so it would certainly never appear again. The show’s gone. Climate John had to do a big, lengthy apology the following week. 

Bill Stainton: I instantly made a copy, i beg your pardon is in some storage box in my house somewhere, yet I haven’t been able to find it for years. A snippet the the footage in which method remained, and that’s the clip they constantly resurrect on April 1. 

John Keister: I never would perform something like that today because I’m a lot an ext timid currently as an adult, and not as certain of myself together I was as soon as I was in my so late 20s. I would never do something that dangerous or provocative. It’d be as well frightening. Yet it do me realize that there to be this one time in mine life once I was solid enough to push over the room Needle. 


1990s  recognize the saying the all push is good press? with its newfound notoriety and also the enhancement of writer Bob Nelson, Almost Live! enters its heyday in the beforehand 1990s.

John Keister: all of a sudden world started creating these really exceptional things. And also the ratings kept going up. There come this suggest when i said, ns think we’re the finest comedy display in the people right now. Right at this moment. In the early on ’90s, i think we’re much better than SNL.

Bill Nye:If you got a joke in the monologue, girlfriend felt like a million bucks. And also as you may know, when Bob Nelson showed up, it to be Bob Nelson and...everyone else, as far as monologues went. He was the funniest man on the freaking planet. And then if you gained Cashman to perform it, you’re cut a swath at that point. 


John Keister: He would certainly come up v these premises that were genuine provocative and really funny. ... The did one called Wally Hoagland, Crappy Cult Leader, around this inept cult leader who couldn’t perform anything right. That couldn’t control to obtain all the women to sleep with him. Instead of a cache that arms, he obtained a cache that alarms, exhilaration alarms. Things choose that. 

Bill Nye: civilization come in with bits. Joe Guppy wrote rate Walker . It was fantastic. God, Joe Guppy. Did friend see before Marriage/After Marriage/After marriage Counseling? i laugh out loud around it double a week. “Before marriage: my girlfriend is a bitch. After ~ marriage: My wife is a bitch. After marriage counseling: I’ve preferred to marry a woman that is a bitch.” The people I functioned with to be so good. 

Jim Sharp: 2 of the real an imaginative forces were john Keister and also Pat Cashman. They had the smartest ideas and the ideal ideas. Castle were simply tremendous performers. Those men really began to have a regular and consistent presence. The present got better. I provide them every the credit in the people for that.

Tracey Conway: john made the present his comic sensibility. … He to be the Puget Sound backbone the the show.


John Keister keeps in touch with Jim spicy in Los Angeles. A cable deal is in the works...  

Jim Sharp: i was working with a guy by the name of Howard Bolter. We bought some comedy piece from Seattle and also John and Almost Live! to walk in this sketch show we to be doing under here…. It was for Fox. Howard, that was yes, really impressed with the material. I said to him, I’ve to be down below now for whatever variety of years, 6 or 7 years, and also they’re still the many talented writers and also performers and also smartest men I’ve to be around. And so what we essentially did, is, we said, let’s do a pilot. It to be a production firm called Worldvision. They provided us some money. We went approximately Seattle. Us did this pilot that would play nationally—and Comedy main ended up buying it.

Steve Wilson: We spent the summer the 1992 developing 65 illustration in 16 weeks, which is unheard of. That was means out the control. The work-related schedule was crazy.


Jim Sharp: It was killer. It scared everybody. … It to be a thrill, ns was back in town, and I to be executive creating this, and you know, we were shooting, ns believe, four shows on Saturday and four shows on Sunday. … Craziest schedule I’ve been on come this day.

Nancy Guppy: the was yes, really intense. 

Steve Wilson: Hardest job-related I’ve ever done. Simply put her head down. I operated seven work a week. I missed a household reunion and a wedding, due to the fact that it was choose out the control.

John Keister: we took out many of the regional humor, but not every one of it. Us left a lot of stuff in. I would sometimes have to go to brand-new York because that meetings, and people would avoid me ~ above the street and go, you’re the male on the show, right? I’d speak yes. And they’d go, What is Ballard? v this Puerto Rican accent. We don’t recognize what you’re talk about, man, however it’s an extremely funny.  

Jim Sharp: There’d it is in premises, prefer The Lame perform , that currently existed, that were type of bulletproof, that were proven come work. And also again, this is a credit transaction to every the stuff that those guys were doing increase there, under John’s tutelage. They were tailored to a nationwide audience. 

Nancy Guppy: The Lame List had actually Kim Thayil from Soundgarden yelling “Lame!”, or Mike McCready, or kris Ballew indigenous the Presidents. Ns did a little with Dave Grohl referred to as “Me!”, which to be fabulous. The like, mine god! These civilization are available?! 

Bill Stainton: That’s when Seattle ended up being the center of the universe. All of a suddenly there’s grunge, every one of a suddenly there’s Twin Peaks, all of a suddenly there’s Northern Exposure, all of a suddenly there’s Microsoft for crying out loud, and Amazon and Starbucks. All of this ingredient starts come happen, and we’re in ~ the epicenter that it. 

John Keister: At that time every little thing Seattle was prefer really cool. That was the coolest point in the world, to be from Seattle. Comedy central would promote it as: “Watch the show that Seattle’s been laughing at for years!”


Almost Live! airs ~ above Comedy central from 1992 come 1994, 5 nights a week. Seattle sketch comedy goes national.

John Keister: A friend of mine was functioning on SNL, and I’d go to SNL and Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, would certainly say, Hey, ns really like that little bit you’re doing. I additionally found out Ron Jeremy to be a fan. My best fan

Bill Stainton: us did a thing with Michael Jordan once. We had accessibility to him for 5 minutes, so we did a fake promo through him. Ns remember going to his hotel room and introducing myself, and he says, “I know who you are. I watch your show. Everyone in the NBA watches her show.”

Pat Cashman: The best solution we acquired was as soon as things to be local. We produced a lot of these stereotypes. … many towns have actually their very own quirks as well. 

Steve Wilson: ago in the day, Ballard was where the old people lived, the old Swedes. And also then Bellevue, rich. Mercer Island, affluent people. Hippies and goofy civilization lived in the U District. We defined those neighborhoods.

Pat Cashman: over there were details truths around Seattle that resonated in other towns around the country.

Nancy Guppy: human being like come feel favor they’re a component of something. Interestingly enough, regional stuff was never my favorite stuff. Come me, it’s one of two people funny or that not. 



Almost Live! stays strong through the 1990s, holding secure at number one in its time slot and also rotating in brand-new guest stars.

Ross Shafer: i wish I had actually been over there in the days when Joel McHale came in as an intern. Since Pat has told me that, through Joel’s enthusiasm, you can tell something was going to occur with him. And also he’s surpassed everybody’s expectations. He had what that takes.

Ron Callan (sports director, KIRO-AM 710, 1996–2002): I very first met Joel McHale in ’96 or ’97, when he was the intern for Pat’s present . He to be affable and constantly willing to go get us lattes.

Joe Guppy: They lugged in this guest characters, countless friends the ours, like Matt Smith… 

Nancy Guppy: the was type of mine thing, i was overseeing that. Matt Smith, Lauren Weedman…

Joe Guppy: There to be a most really talented rotating guest stars that would certainly come in for a quarter or everything it was. Nobody ever before stuck.

Nancy Guppy: There was no spot for them. The idea was never ever to replace anyone.


But yes an expiration date on everything. In 1999, simply shy of the 16th season, Almost Live! produce its last episode.

Bill Stainton: It started to end when Dorothy Bullitt died. She to be the matriarch the KING-TV. She to be the one who really thought in local. And after she died—she was favor 94 or 95 —her family just didn’t yes, really feel like running a TV station. So they offered to The Providence journal in Rhode Island. And also then Providence Journal got sold to a firm called Belo in Dallas, Texas. Now, we were tho number one in our time slot. Because that those last 10 years, us were never less than number one in our time slot. However once you got all the method down come Dallas, we weren’t a phenomenon. We were a line item ~ above a budget. 

Pat Cashman: ns was asked come emcee a company-wide meeting and also the brand-new owner of KING come on stage. He was this hard guy, and he goes, “Hey, so those this Almost Live! thing? Is it practically dead?” and I said, “Well, that’s type of approximately you.” It got a large laugh.

Steve Wilson: oh god, us got referred to as into a meeting. We’d to be planning because that year 16, and it was prefer two weeks prior to we were claimed to shoot the show. And they called us right into a meeting and said, “Well, we’re no going to carry out the following season.” “What? What the fuck! What space you talk about?” 

Nancy Guppy: Jay Cascio was the routine director at that point, and he came down to meet with us, and also he basically said, the seems favor maybe world are type of exhausted of act the show. I guess we’re going to talk about maybe doing quarterly specials or something.

John Keister: At the time the display went turn off the air, no everybody loved it. 

Nancy Guppy: A number of us were charred out. I should have left through then. I should have been unable to do by then. Seriously, I should have. But I wasn’t. 

Steve Wilson: They do us do one an ext special. They to be going to give us every severance—but oh, through the way, friend won’t obtain your severance unless you perform this last special in October. We referred to as it Almost Live Gets every Fired Up. The was choose a neon sign, and as the thing went on, the letters went out. The letters retained going out until the finish of the show. That was: “Almost Live Gets…Fired…” I assumed that to be the best title ever.

Steve Wilson: The thing is, Almost Live! is quiet on the air. The repeats—you have the right to see 2 every Saturday night ~ SNL. The present has never ever left the air since 1984. We stopped producing in 1999.

John Keister: that not prefer I ever left TV. The like, just how old am i going to it is in this week?

Joe Guppy: It has actually helped Seattle organize on come its identity, also as it grew and also grew and also grew. Ns don’t understand where Seattle’s identity is today.

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With Almost Live! ~ above the shelf, the cast scatters. Nancy Guppy is now organize and an elderly producer of Art Zone through Nancy Guppy on Seattle Channel; Joe Guppy is a psychotherapist. Steve Wilson, whom invoice Nye referred to as the “Cal Ripken of Almost Live!” because that directing every episode, is now at the helm the New day Northwest on KING. And April through June, john Keister, pat Cashman, and Cashman’s son, Chris, to be bringing back sketch comedy TV with weekly illustration of The <206>, directed by Wilson. The show looks weird familiar…

Nancy Guppy: It’s not an Almost Live! reboot. Kris Cashman, he is the driver. 

Pat Cashman: girlfriend ask Chris, and also he’ll say, I always dreamed that as soon as I finished school, i would gain to occupational on Almost Live! So once that vaporized...

John Keister: nothing is ever before going to it is in Almost Live! there’s a million weird accidental points that all came with each other to make that present happen. That really has to do with how the city was in those days. 

John Keister: without question, finest years of my life. 

Updated June 3, 2013, to exactly Nancy Guppy, that mistakenly declared that there to be no women on staff as soon as she joined the show. In fact, there had actually been two female actors members on the display at the time.