Unlike Full House, Family Matters, and Friends, The Drew Carey Show is a "90s sitcom that doesn"t get the same sort of nostalgic love as the rest. Yet somehow, the series about a working class guy from Cleveland and his friends ran for nine seasons. In an era where comedians all seemed to be getting their own series (Roseanne, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Drew Carey played a fictionalized version of himself, who worked at Winfred-Louder department store on the cusp of the Amazon-age of inventory digitization, working for his hellish British boss, and being scorned by his heavily made-up office nemesis Mimi.
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His lifelong friends helped him through the mundanity of his existence with games of pool, naval gazing philosphy, and lots and lots of beer. It was a "nice show" with a lot of dark humor, occasionally veering off into the surreal, and proved an entertaining option amidst all the family-friendly fare. Here"s 10 weird facts you may not have known about the show.
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Before it was known simply as The Drew Carey Show, it went by a different moniker; The Drew F. Carey Show. It might be a subtle difference, and it might make the series sound more "distinguished", but the letter "F" stood for, well, you probably can figure it out, and was therefore pulled by producers who didn"t appreciate Drew Carey"s humor.
The theme song in the first season was "Moon over Parma", then was changed to "Five O" Clock World", and finally by the third season it settled on the theme song that most viewers associate it with, "Cleveland Rocks". In the eighth season, producers inexplicably used different versions of all three songs. All these songs, and trivia about them, are included in the soundtrack for the series.
Drew Carey may have gotten his start doing stand up gigs with clean comedy, but he didn"t start getting really successful until his acts got profane. He took his raunchy style of humor over to ABC, and infused The Drew Carey Show with all sorts of debased humor that the executives at ABC just didn"t like.
In one particular episode, he insisted that a scene featuring Kate required a cacophony of fart noises. Really rank ones. As Carrey explains in "Home Brewed: The Drew Carey Story", ABC executives were immediately put off the idea and refused to let the scene play, unless he toned down the sounds. After a brutal battle, Drew eventually won, and got to have his fanfare of flatulence on his terms.
Always eager to push the envelope when it came to his comedy, Drew had to go up against the executives at ABC all the time. Whenever he wanted to change some dialogue or the nature of a joke, he had to get executive approval, and the dirtier he wanted it a joke, the less approval he was likely to get.
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In one particular instance, he really wanted Mimi to called him a "butt wipe" on the show. The ABC executives held firm this time, and he didn"t get approval for the phrase. Mimi called him a "butt weasel" instead, which has its own sort of funky appeal. Most of the unique names Mimi gives him were the result of trying to get around censorship.
7 IT WAS A NICE SHOW THAT TURNED OUT TO BE MEAN
There were plenty of light, fluffy shows on television in the mid "90s; Full House, Step by Step, Family Matters, and Saved By the Bell. There were also plenty of sarcastic and mean shows, like Seinfeld and You"re the Worst. The Drew Carey Show billed itself as a nice show about average people living in an average Mid West city, but its tone was much darker.
All sorts of concepts were introduced to the series over time that made it straddle the chasm between being a nice show and a mean show, leaving viewers perplexed by its message. It mercilessly made fun of Mimi, it mercilessly made fun of Drew"s cross-dressing brother, and it there were a lot of fat jokes (despite Drew being overweight himself). This would all have been fine, if it didn"t have such an identity crisis.
At the time the series was created, the main creative force behind it was Drew Carey and Bruce Helford, who was the co-creator of Roseanne with Roseanne Barr. Both sitcoms featured overweight leads, with an inner circle struggling to hang on to a middle class life, but content and even proud of their blue collar existence. And like Roseanne, The Drew Carey Show could be highly insensitive.
In one storyline, after seeing Austin Powers, a little person decides that she"s going to be "Mini Mimi" and follow Mimi around the office dressed in her outlandish clothes and makeup. The whole situation, along with the cast"s remarks, is unfortunate.
5 DREW CAREY ALMOST LEFT SHOWBIZ BEFORE IT AIRED
At the time that The Drew Carey Show was picked up, it almost didn"t happen because its star had almost left show business. After unsuccessfully trying to get his stand up act off the ground in the late "80s, he moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles to try to get some traction. The move cost him his girlfriend at the time, and he was living out of his car with few prospects.
He was ready to pack it up and head home to Ohio when he got his break on The Tonight Show, where his act skyrocketed his career and gave him enough clout to pitch the pilot of the series. It was set on his home turf of Cleveland, with storylines and anecdotes taken from his life and the lives of people he knew in Cleveland. He discusses some of this personal history in his book.
Though she became iconic for her role as Mimi, Drew"s office nemesis and resident ladyboss on the show, Kathy Kinney was on a diet when she auditioned for the role. She had avoided auditioning for roles that called for "heavy girls" because she didn"t want to be typecast because of her weight. She wanted to be taken seriously as an actress and therefore had started dieting to get other roles.
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Drew wanted her just the way she was, and stated that the character of Mimi wouldn"t see her weight as a problem at all, but represent more of herself to love. It was Mimi"s confidence and high opinion of herself that attracted Kinney to the role, which became a fan favorite.
3 DREW CAREY DIDN"T REALLY NEED HIS SIGNATURE SPECS
Drew Carey was known for two things in the "90s; his buzz cut, and his thick black glasses, both courtesy of the United States Armed Services. He served for six years in the Marine Corps Reserves, where he was issued a military regulation haircut, as well as a pair of government-issued black glasses. He decided to keep the look after he got out of the military, and incorporate it into his character on the show.
After a few years, Drew got Lasik surgery, and no longer needed the glasses. They"d become so much a part of his signature style, however, that he wore glasses without prescription lenses on the show, a practice he continues in real life.
In 1998, four years after The Drew Carey Show began, Drew Carey became the host of the American version of Whose Line Is It, Anyway?. He recruited Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, and usually a guest star to perform the improvisational comedy gags. Ironically, there was another connection between the two series besides Drew Carey"s involvement in both.
Ryan Stiles was already a big star on Whose Line Is It Anyway? in Britain before he ever auditioned for The Drew Carey Show. Once he won a part on the show as Drew"s best friend and they got to know each other, he was the obvious choice to include on the American version when Drew Carey became the host.
1 GIVING THE FULL MONTY
There"s a memorable episode at The Dog and Pony Show where nearly the entire male cast does a spoof on the British comedy The Full Monty, and gets nude at the Warsaw. According to Carey, the cast was actually completely in the buff except for small modesty pouches.
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At the back of the bar, Hugo Speer, Steve Huison, Paul Barber, and Mark Addy can be seen watching the spectacle. They were all actors in the original film about an unemployed steelworker who convinces his friends and his former foreman to help him create an all-male striptease act so he can continue making his child support payments.