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Issaquah’s Chris Cashman helps launch Northwest comedy show, ‘The 206’
Chris Cashman’s childhood aspirations always differed a little from friends’, which should come as no surprise given his namesake.
“Some kids have that fantasy making that three-point shot as the buzzer expires, or the touchdown, or whatever,” said the 1996 graduate of Eastlake in Sammamish and long-time Issaquah resident. “My fantasy had always been right before ‘Almost Live’ starts, and I’m standing right behind that door ready to come out.”
Chris, son of local actor and comedian Pat Cashman, will finally get to live out a version of his dream in January when he, his dad and comedian John Keister launch “The 206” — a television show described as similar to the former skit show “Almost Live,” but at the same time, very different.
“We keep insisting this is a different thing,” Chris Cashman said. “It’s going to be similar humor, but it’s not going to look the same.”
The opportunity is a dream come true for Cashman, now 35, married and a father of two girls, 5 and 3. After graduating from high school, he went to Washington State University with the intent of earning a communications degree and following in his father’s footsteps on “Almost Live.” That dream was crushed in 1999, his junior year at WSU, when after 15 years on the air, the hyper-local skit show known for its jokes about regional stereotypes was canceled by KING-TV.
Cashman completed his degree and went on to do several successful projects on radio and TV, including serving as the face of KSTW channel 11 for five years, working on “Evening Magazine” and hosting of 1 vs. 100 on XBox Live — a game that holds the Guinness Record for most contestants in a game show at one time.
Even with all his accomplishments in production and acting, the six-time Northwest Emmy winner admitted the absence of “Almost Live” always haunted him.
“I was always really devastated that ultimately what I wanted to do wasn’t there,” he said. “I was the kid dreaming of playing in the Big Leagues and to know there was no Big Leagues anymore, was very hard to get over.”
It was during a meeting last spring, Cashman’s dream was reborn. While working with his dad and Keister on the nationally syndicated PBS show, “Biz Kids,” someone casually brought up the idea of recreating a Northwest-themed comedy show. That’s all it took to get the ball rolling.
Cashman immediately prepared skits with his dad and Keister, all with the intent of unveiling them in a couple of months in front of the most ideal audience he could think of — the Northwest Emmys.
“That essentially lit the curtains on fire,” he said. “We realized, like it or not, we now have a show, or at least an expectation of a show.”
The short trailer picked up thousands of hits on YouTube and spread quickly through Facebook and Twitter. When a special live teaser show in Seattle sold out within minutes, they knew they had something.
Heavyweight sponsors like Alaska Airlines and Northwest Cadillac hopped on board as well as the former home of “Almost Live,” KING-TV, which will air the first episode of “The 206” Jan. 5, following “Saturday Night Live.”
Cashman said the show will have many features “Almost Live” had, in that it will poke fun at surrounding communities and hot-button local issues. He noted towns have changed from what they used to be, but that is going to make it fun.
“Ballard is hip now,” Cashman said. “When ‘Almost Live’ was on the air, Ballard was a place people were getting their hips replaced.”
The large difference for the new show will lie in its appearance and cast size. Instead of giant cameras, editing suites and television studios, the show will be shot on a much smaller scale in an old Bellevue firehouse off of 148th Avenue Southeast. The crowd will circle around the cast as they perform skits — an idea Cashman said he got from watching the BBC show “Top Gear.”
“When you go there, you are part of the show, you will be on the show,” he said. “You will be seen, nose-picking and all.”
Cashman is excited to see where the journey takes him, his dad and Keister in the coming months.
“As silly as it sounds, we feel like it’s almost a way to give back,” he said. “People want to laugh at themselves, their neighborhood and their jobs. This is an opportunity to rekindle something that was really special because it was Northwest.”
It’s also an opportunity for Cashman to live out a dream once thought lost.
Did you know?
Chris Cashman starred in an episode of “Almost Live” when he was in the seventh grade called “Sluggy.” The episode parodied the show “Lassie” focusing on the bond between a boy and his slug. Chris was nominated for an Emmy award for his performance, but lost out to his father, Pat. Chris credits that experience for him catching the bug to become a television star.
“The 206” premiers Jan. 5 on NBC, follwing Saturday Night Live.