COMEDY: Marc Price: Growing to Cope

“Skippy” from 80’s sitcom Family Ties brings his off-screen act to the Comedy Club of Jacksonville.

If comedians loved one thing in the 80s, it was being on sitcoms. If 80s sitcoms loved thing, it was nerdy neighbors. This created the perfect opportunity for Marc Price, a stand-up comedian who played “Skippy” on the popular 80’s sitcom Family Ties. Price still tours as a comedian today and that happy coincidence from way back when we were all still proudly wearing mullets and slap-bracelets has given Price the name recognition he needs to compete in a supersaturated stand-up market.

“Before I was even on Family Ties I was a kid comedian,” says Price, “I don’t want to age myself, but I was on the Merv Griffin Show and that’s how NBC found me. So, people think that maybe I jumped on the comedy bandwagon after I was on a sitcom but, really, technically it was the other way around. Which was funny at the time because all the comedians wanted to be on a sitcom and here I was on  a sitcom and all I wanted was a Tuesday night spot at the Comedy Store at nine o’clock. Stand-up comedy was always my first love. The podcast is the new sitcom. Andy Warhol famously said that in the future ‘everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes’ and now it’s evolved into ‘everybody will be famous for fifteen people’.”

Unlike many other actor/comedians who try to distance themselves from their cheesy sitcom pasts, Price embraces it so much so that his current tour is called “A Fresh Jar of Skippy.”

“I get it,” says Price, ”I get the idea that you don’t want to answer questions about Mallory (Justine Bateman’s character on Family Ties) thirty years later when you haven’t been a part of that for so long, but it doesn’t bother me the way it bothers some other people. But give it time. I always say that, give me another decade and maybe I’ll be the same way. But so far, I’m okay with it, especially when there’s a whole new young generation that doesn’t know the show at all.”

Not to mention that Price was on a popular TV show during a time when people still watched TV–as in, families would gather around an actual cathode ray tube and enjoy it.

“Yeah, we caught the very end of where everyone watched TV together, families and such. Since then, there’s so many options, the internet, etc. When we started HBO wasn’t even in everyone’s house yet. Cable was new.”

Price says that, no matter what else he accomplishes in life, he is “growing to cope” with the fact that he will always be famously known as Skippy, even down to the morbid reality that his TV news obituary will reflect that reality.

“I was driving in a car full of some friends…and one of my friends joked that, if we were to get into a car wreck and all of us died, the news headline would just read ‘Skippy from Family Ties Dies in Fatal Car Accident’.”

Another way that Price stands apart from the pack is that he has managed to stave off the demons that have gotten so many other young sitcom actors into the headlines for notorious reasons. (See: Dustin “Screech” Diamond’s recent arrest in a bar stabbing: ). While Price does  admit to partaking in his share of good times in his day (he wouldn’t go into the details), he explained that there was one key thing that kept him out of trouble.

“My mom is a retired cop,” says Price, “there was no messing around with her. She was trained in these matters. It was like CSI: My Mommy. Growing up as a child of Hollywood, going to school on the set and the 80’s as a young showbiz kid, Michael Jackson never touched me and I still have all my credit cards. I got very luck that I didn’t get sucked into the whole thing.”

As far as his level of fame is concerned, he seemed to have hit the sweet spot – he had enough to provide himself a good living without having so much that it made his life difficult.

“Even at the height of the show, I still was the nerdy neighbor. I wasn’t Michael J. Fox. Michael J. Fox couldn’t even go to the supermarket. I never had it quite like that. I feel like I got a good deal as far as that goes cause I got to share in the feeling of celebrity. People are celebrity obsessed in America, right? It’s the biggest thing going, right? They want celebrity more than everything else. Money? Sex? Nope, they want celebrity – and I had it, I had a piece but I got it in a way that was liveable.”

Price looks back fondly on his Family Ties days, bringing up one memory in particular.

“We used to get into water gun and water balloon fights on set all the time,” says Price.

These days, however, Price is more concerned with water conservation than wasting it in a Super Soaker battle. Price is the official spokesman for Evaporative Control Systems Inc., a unique water conservation system that utilizes sand hydroponics (www. Price says that he has been fruitlessly trying to pitch this concept to California politicians, who either don’t understand or don’t even know about the technology, even though it is already being implemented in other countries. Though he says he has no interest in doing so, I suggested that maybe he should just run for public office himself in his native state and skip (no pun intended) the middle man. We’ve certainly seen more absurd political scenarios play out in CA, and drought is certainly a top – if not the top – priority issue there. Hell, Gallagher once ran for Governor there and Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor there. I can see it now: Governor Marc “Skippy” Price. It kinda has a nice ring to it.

“You’ve certainly given me something to think about,” said Price.

So what exactly is inside this new Fresh Jar of Skippy?

“It’s all things that are just true to me. You know, I’m getting older now and I’m still not married and I had a girlfriend say her biological clock is ticking. I said, ‘Just hit the snooze’ – but I didn’t tap her on the head, cause that would be rude.”

Price will be skipping into Cowford to play at the Comedy Club of Jacksonville on March 12.

About Richard David Smith III

writer, lab rat, and purveyor of fine energy drinks. pro Oxford comma.