Andrew Daly wasn't the flashiest comedian. One of his first childhood impressions was of "60 Minutes" (CBS, 1968- ) resident curmudgeon Andy Rooney, and neither a well-received performance with partner Andy Secunda at the 1999 Aspen Comedy Festival, or his TV debut on "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002) ignited his fledgling career. A brief stint in the early 2000s on the sketch comedy series "MADtv" (FOX, 1995-2009) was marked by unassuming straight man roles and thankless supporting parts. But with a strong background in improv comedy (he trained in New York City with both the Upright Citizen's Brigade and Chicago City Limits) and a deep commitment to characters both unassuming and unstable, in the mid-2000s Daly began piecing together a career that spanned television, movies, and the Internet. Both his 2008 debut comedy album, 9 Sweaters, which showcased nine different characters, and his side-career as a voiceover artist on shows such as HBO's "The Life & Times of Tim" (2008-2012) gave Daly even more opportunities to stretch his creative muscles. Sure, he looks more like a suburban math teacher than a trailblazing comic talent, but Daly's razor-sharp ability to play it straight is the key to his success.
Growing up in Mount Kisco, NY, Daly knew early on he wanted to pursue a career in comedy; he counted Martin Short as one of his early comic influences and was enamored with Charles Grodin's put-upon straight man in 1988's "Midnight Run." He quickly became known as the class clown and teachers would let him perform at the end of class as a way to entice him to sit still. After becoming more involved with sketch comedy in high school, Daly studied drama at Ithaca College, and his post-graduation move to New York City led him to the newly imported improv comedy troupe Chicago City Limits. By the time Upright Citizen's Brigade landed in Chelsea in 1996, Daly had become one of CCL's headlining performers and crossed over to TV with a brief role on the political sitcom "Spin City." Over the next few years Daly juggled his training at the groundbreaking UCB Theatre with anything-goes appearances on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC, 1993-2009) and performances with partner Andy Secunda as The Two Andys. In 1999 the two were invited to perform at the famed Aspen Comedy Festival, and a year later Daly found himself the newest cast member of FOX's upstart sketch comedy series, "MADtv."
Meant to serve as a serious challenger to "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) and its decades-long reign over TV comedy, "MADtv" ended its first season a would-be contender. During his two years as a performer and writer, Daly saw his soft-spoken performance style and poker-faced characters increasingly relegated to the sidelines so he concentrated on honing his straight main skills against the more colorful creations of his castmates. After leaving the show in 2002, Daly crossed paths with UCB founding member Matt Besser, who cast the bespectacled performer alongside up-and-coming comics Brian Posehn, Patton Oswalt and David Koechner in a weekly gig at L.A.'s Improv Olympic. Though the show never garnered much interest, it proved the perfect platform for Daly to test out new material; since there wasn't much of an audience, there wasn't much at stake. Using his notebook of rejected "MADtv" sketches as a jumping-off point, Daly eventually created a stable of idiosyncratic, richly developed characters he could fully commit himself to.
Though he was just establishing himself in the cutthroat L.A. comedy scene, Daly made sure to keep one foot in NYC. He followed Besser to Comedy Central, where he landed a job as a writer and actor on the short-lived parody series "Crossballs: The Debate Show" (2004). After a brief appearance in the mildly successful "Christmas with the Kranks" (2004), Daly taped a pilot for the Comedy Central that ultimately went nowhere. However, the pilot's failure didn't stop Thomas Lennon from noticing Daly's finely-tuned improv skills, and from 2005 to 2009 Daly found himself playing a host of characters on the anarchic, unscripted police comedy, "Reno 911!" (Comedy Central, 2003- 09). His sweet-natured supporting buffoons proved the perfect foil for the show's incompetent officers, and eventually the journeyman comic began juggling his work on "Reno 911!" with appearances on "Lewis Black's Root of All Evil" (Comedy Central, 2008). By then the online comedy community, especially the influential forum A Special Thing, had taken note of Daly's bone-dry humor and oddball yet relatable characters.
He began taping guest spots on podcasts such as Scott Aukerman's "Comedy Death Ray," where he trotted out a different character every week. Those weekly appearances became the inspiration for 9 Sweaters, which was released by A Special Thing's record label and became the de facto intro to Daly's strange, silly world. That same year he brought a flat Midwestern touch to his role as a sports announcer in Will Ferrell's "Semi-Pro" (2008), and voiced a number of characters on "The Life & Times of Tim," HBO's animated series about an awkward twentysomething NYC slacker. In 2009 Daly joined the cast of Danny McBride's "Eastbound & Down" (HBO, 2009- ) as a passive-aggressive middle school principal, and the following year appeared as a lawyer in the satirical witness protection series "Delocated" (Adult Swim, 2009-2013). In 2012 he taped a well-received episode of the long-running podcast "WTF with Marc Maron," and later reunited with Scott Aukerman on the first season of the podcast-turned-TV series "Comedy Bang! Bang!" (IFC, 2012- ).
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Made TV debut on ABC's "Spin City"
Performed at the Aspen Comedy Festival with partner Andrew Secunda
Joined the cast FOX's sketch comedy series "MADtv"
Hired as an actor and writer on Comedy Central's "Crossballs: The Debate Show"
Made film debut in "Christmas with the Kranks"
Featured on Comedy Central's "Reno 911!"
Played a courtside announcer in "Semi-Pro"
Appeared as a middle school principal on HBO's "Eastbound & Down"
Cast as a lawyer on Adult Swim's "Delocated"