Like any sketch comedy show, part of Almost Live’s ability to sustain week after week, came from a reliance on recurring characters and bits. Uncle Fran, Capable Woman, Sluggy, The High-Fivin’ White Guys, A Woman’s Place, Speed-Walker, the Joy of Painting guy, The Lame List, Green River Dance, The Worst Girlfriend in the World, and more.
But – and I cannot prove this – if you ask most any show fan who’s their most remembered recurring character, the winner has to be the Mind Your Manners guy, Billy Quan.
If Almost Live produced, say, 12 versions of ‘The Lame List,’ there were perhaps twice as many episodes of ‘Mind Your Manners.’ I could be wrong. I once thought that gravity was a hoax. But in any case, Billy was a mainstay at least once a month.
The guy who played the part never auditioned for it. He was, to say the least, a reluctant thespian. But like it or not, Darrell Suto became one of the most recognized figures on a show in which he was not even a formal cast member.
His story is remarkable. Born in Seattle, a third-generation Japanese American, raised as a Buddhist, now a Catholic. He earned Seven national Daytime Emmy awards – not as a performer – but as a production photographer and editor.
Hard to believe, but he is a man with no formal martial arts training. And yet, as the otherwise peaceable Billy Quan… he could kick your ass.
He now lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, Mary.
There is certainly no one more beloved among the people who worked with him back in the day, than Darrell Suto.