I continue to be amazed by the talent and accomplishments of folks who come from my hometown. If you’ve ever found yourself laughing during an episode of Frasier, or Beavis and Butt-head or the old hit comedy News Radio, the chances are pretty decent that it was a script line written by Amsterdam native Chris Marcil that was making you chuckle.
He was born on September 13, 1963 at Amsterdam’s St. Mary’s Hospital, the son and second of three children born to Market Hill residents Ed and Diane Marcil. His dad had begun teaching at Perth Central the year before that and would end up becoming the last superintendent of that district before it merged with the Broadalbin School District in 1987. The elder Marcil was a driving force behind that merger and I remember admiring his gracious ceding of the Superintendent’s position to his Broadalbin counterpart, rather than let it become a bone of contention in the merger process.
Meanwhile, Chris Marcil graduated from Bishop Scully High School in 1981 and then went on to Yale University, where his roommate was a kindred soul and native of Omaha named Sam Johnson. After graduating from the Ivy League school the pair stuck together professionally, accepting writing assignments with the New Yorker, Mademoiselle and the New York Times and then serving a stint as editors at National Lampoon.
From there it was on to television when they joined the writing staff of the groundbreaking TV series Beavis and Butt-head in 1992 and then wrote the pilot for its spinoff, Daria. Those stellar credits brought the pair widespread recognition in the industry and they were soon moving to LA and taking over as story editors for the hit TV comedy News Radio and eventually becoming co-executive producers of that show. Next came Frasier and the pair’s first two Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. During their tenure with Frasier, the show became the most Emmy Award–winning series of all-time with 37 wins.
In an interview with TV Land, Marcil and Johnson explained that they write comedy by sitting around a table in a locked room with their staff of writers trying to make each other laugh at stories about each other’s lives. The pair has lots of experience with that method since they’ve been trying to make each other laugh since their days as college roommates.
Their most recent small-screen success story was the TV Land Network half hour comedy, Hot in Cleveland, which starred the ageless Betty White. Marcil and Johnson were executive producers of the show, which enjoyed a six-year run that ended in 2015.
This pair’s most current project was the NBC comedy Crowded,about two recent empty nesters whose two grown daughters unexpectedly move back home, as do the husband’s retired parents. It debuted in May of 2016 but was cancelled after just one season.
There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll see this Amsterdam native’s name popping up in the credits of another new hit comedy special before he retires.
Chris Marcil’s brother Peter Marcil, another Amsterdam native was the New York City-based investment banker working with Montgomery County and the Canadian-based investment firm, Clairvest Group that spearheaded the failed 2014 effort to bring a casino to Amsterdam.
Marcil shares his September 13 birthday with this former Amsterdam native who also worked for a time in the entertainment industry. She never achieved the widespread fame or success Marcil has but her Birthday post was one of my favorites.