There’s always a ton of interest around a Saturday Night Live ex-cast member’s first post-SNL gig. After watching these comedians create ridiculous characters for years, we can’t help but relate SNL to the rest of their careers. That was the case with Andy Samberg‘s sitcom Cuckoo, which sounds just like his “Ras Trent” Digital Short—and now Abby Elliott‘s first guest spot has become a callback to the nepotism charges that plagued her when she first joined SNL.
Abby just signed on for a multi-episode arc on season 8 of How I Met Your Mother… on which her dad Chris Elliott happens to be a recurring character. He plays Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) irresponsible board game inventor dad, and it’s news to me that he’s Abby’s dad. I just never made that connection, but then I found this Vulture post from 2009 musing on how both Chris and Abby benefited from his father/her grandfather Bob Elliott being a revered radio star.
The New York Times Magazine profiled the family and neglected to explore the fact that Chris got his first showbiz job as a runner for David Letterman after namedropping his dad to Dave. Chris went on to be an SNL cast member in the mid-’90s, not to mention that Lorne Michaels had worked with Bob Elliott, so suddenly the reasons behind Abby’s casting in 2008 was cast into doubt.
I haven’t watched the show much lately, so I can’t speak for Abby’s comedic talent. I do get the impression via blogs that she was one of the weaker cast members and that viewers weren’t sad to see her leave the show. And of course many people break into many fields because of some help or connection. I also wish Abby nothing but success in her post-SNL career… I just think she should’ve chosen a project that none of her family members were already attached to.
It doesn’t help that her character sounds like it was created just for her sake, not for the show’s plot. Co-creator Craig Thomas certainly seems psyched about the addition, telling EW,
“We’re thrilled to have the hilarious Abby Elliot joining us in an arc as Janeane, the craziest girl the HIMYM gang has ever encountered. And the strange, inexplicable phenomenon is: the crazier Janeane gets, the more attractive one of the gang finds her. It doesn’t end well.”
At first this sounds like it could be a fun role to give us one more memorable non-Mother figure before the show wraps up… except, it seems like we’ve seen just this sort of character before. Remember Barney’s teachings on the Hot/Crazy Scale?
As far as I can tell, Janeane won’t be breaking any new ground on HIMYM, which makes you wonder if family connections played into this at all. And it’s not just the Elliotts! Most of the main cast have gotten their significant others parts on the show: Neil Patrick Harris‘ partner David Burtka has a recurring role as Lily’s high school love Scooter; Cobie Smulders‘ husband Taran Killam has played Blauman in multiple characters (and, interestingly was on SNL from 2010-12); and Alyson Hannigan‘s husband Alexis Denisof is none other than Robin’s lecherous co-anchor Sandy Rivers.
So, there’s definitely precedent. It just might’ve benefited Abby to take this gig later.
Photo: Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com