10/01/10 2:28 PM ET
Utley, Howard make 'Sunny' TV cameos
Phillies sluggers show their acting chops in comedy series
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
He has a remarkably dry sense of humor. The only problem is catching him using it, because publicly he prefers to keep things vanilla -- unless it happens to be a speech following a World Series championship parade.
But Utley had no chance to be reserved on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
He had to be funny.
Utley and Ryan Howard made a cameo in an upcoming episode of the popular FX comedy, which could air sometime around the World Series. Howard had been in front of cameras before. He recently appeared in the series finale of HBO's "Entourage," where he improvised lines with Jerry Ferrara's character, "Turtle," who begged him for money to support a tequila company. Howard also has appeared in several Subway commercials.
Utley had no TV experience.
"I thought they did a really amazing job," said Philadelphia native Rob McElhenney, the creator and star of "It's Always Sunny."
"I thought they were better than a lot of actors we wind up having on the show. I thought they did a [really] amazing job."
Utley, holding true to his public persona, reacted coolly to McElhenney's praise.
"OK," he said. "That's nice."
Did he at least enjoy himself?
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "The guys made it easy. I don't think I realized how much improv they do. They obviously have bases they have to cover, but each scene was kind of different. That was pretty cool. But I've been a fan of the show. It's an entertaining show. And I thought as long as it worked out and it didn't take too much time, I'd be all for it. And I'm glad I did it."
"It was a blast," Howard added. "Watching those guys, they were on the fly. We'd try to throw in our ideas or whatever to make it more natural for us. They just told us, 'Whatever feels natural, do or say.'"
McElhenney allowed MLB.com to take a look at the scenes, which involved Glenn Howerton's character, "Dennis Reynolds," and Charlie Day's "Charlie." The scenes, which were shot over the summer, are funny. Utley and Howard are attending a charity event, and they mostly are reacting to Howerton's and Day's boorish behavior.
They hold their own, although Utley is not going to be the next professional-athlete-turned-actor. He will not star in a remake of "Mr. Belvedere."
"I don't really see acting in my future," Utley said.
Howard could see himself possibly broadcasting after his career, but for the moment he is taking advantage of some of the opportunities baseball has provided. That not only includes The Ryan Howard Family Foundation, but chatting with "Turtle" and hanging with the It's Always Sunny gang.
"It was cool," Howard said. "Once again, it was stepping outside my realm and doing it to see how it would go. Doing 'Always Sunny,' especially doing it with Chase, who everybody knows isn't usually a talkative guy -- he did a good job. We had a lot of fun doing it. We were over there just clowning the whole time. It's just something that was out of both of our elements."
Utley's and Howard's names appeared in a previous episode, when McElhenney's "Mac" tries to get Kaitlin Olson's "Dee" a hand-written letter (with stickers at the bottom) to Utley. Dee professes her preference for Howard over Utley.
Mac's love letter to Utley is brilliant.
"I thought it was hilarious," Utley said. "They do a good job of making you laugh. Yeah, I thought it was pretty funny."
McElhenney, 33, said the love letter spawned from a conversation in the writer's room.
"What an interesting phenomena it is as you grow older to continue to think about professional athletes as being older than you," said McElhenney, who is two years older than Utley. "I thought, 'What a funny idea it would be if a character looked up to Chase Utley as his older-brother-type figure. Then he comes to find out that he's older than him and how sad that is.'"
McElhenney is looking forward to the episode airing, but he's also looking forward to another Phillies run in the postseason, too.
Like most Phillies fans, he wants to skip to the World Series.
"I feel like -- it's so ridiculous -- I feel like a Braves fan in the '90s," he said. "I can't really get excited until the World Series anymore."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.