Kaniehtiio Horn’s Nicole in What Would Sal Do? plays the Diane Chambers to Sal’s (Dylan Taylor) Sam Malone, as the CraveTV show takes a swipe at a tale as old as the gospels. (Courtesy CraveTV)
How to explain Kaniehtiio Horn’s entrance in her newest series What Would Sal Do?
Sal (Dylan Taylor) is informed by his mother (Jennifer Dale) that he is the result of an immaculate conception, and may be the second coming of Jesus Christ, or something like that. The mission for Sal, a grown man living in his mother’s basement, is to do good deeds.
Soooooooooo, after being told by a homeless man that buying him a burger at a fast food joint is not really that nice, Sal decides to take said man to a er, um, a massage parlour of sorts.
The homeless man takes a look at the collection of girls, and points to Nicole because “she looks mean.”
The eyes are unmistakably those of the Kahnawake actress, who, ummmmm, (massages?) a sensitive area on a homeless man, to his delight.
Phew. Got through it.
“Imagine showing your mother that show,” said Horn with a huge laugh, whose mother Kahentinetha Horn did check it out. “My mom was howling, and just thought it was the funniest thing ever.”
The scene is pretty funny and is typical of the offbeat comedy series that launched March 24 on CraveTV.
It’s worth checking out the show and signing up for the free month of Crave at least. It’s like Netflix, only it has HBO shows (you have been warned TV addicts).
What Would Sal Do? is an offbeat, sardonic, funny show that Kahnawake viewers will have no trouble relating to. Well, unless you don’t know a 30-something guy who lives with his mother, doesn’t have a real job and needs motivation to do something with his life.
Essential in making a show of its ilk is finding actors with real comedic chemistry. It’s something Horn and Taylor have in spades.
“Working with Tiio’s amazing,” Taylor told The Eastern Door from Toronto. “We both come from a fire and grease kind of take on things, so it was great her and I just firing off at each other.”
Taylor compared the relationship on the show to the legendary Sam versus Diane battle of the sexes on Cheers back in the high points of the classic comedy show.
“A lot of Sal is based on Sam Malone,” said Taylor. “Tiio was great at matching the strength that Diane Chambers had with Sam, and being able to pull the carpet out from under him like no other could… Tiio’s such a capable actress and she’s so clever and funny, and good on her feet that she’s the only one that can really derail Sal.”
Creator Andrew De Angelis worked with Horn on the show 18 to Life previously, and knew immediately that Horn would be perfect in the Mary Magdalene role of Nicole to Sal’s Jesus.
“It simply just came down to, she nailed it,” said De Angelis. “She nailed the audition, and there was no question and that was across the board. Everybody who saw the audition was like, ‘she’s it.’”
Part of the attraction for De Angelis is being able to cast actors outside the mainstream romantic comedy types seen in far too many sitcoms.
“It’s very rare for them to be cast in those roles, as the leading man or the leading lady,” said De Angelis.
“They’re often not put up for them, and that’s something I wanted because I kind of hate those conventions. I think they’re ridiculous and we’re way past time to break that.”
Horn has embraced roles outside the cookie-cutter cute girl playing doe-eyed footsy with the clean-cut quarterback type characters fit for many mainstream sitcoms.
“I’ve always gotten weird stuff,” said Horn. “I’ve always been sort of like an indie person. I love it. I much prefer this, and I feel that this is more my style. I’ve never been the girl next door.”
‘Girl next door’ may be the exact opposite description of Nicole or Horn’s character Tanis on the Canadian Screen Award-winning comedy Letterkenny, which is also on CraveTV.
Horn’s offbeat quirky style is something she’s honed, embraced and succeeded because of.
“If you want to work, you have to embrace it and figure out what it is that makes you different and make them want to hire you because you’re different,” said Horn.
What Would Sal Do? filmed in 2015, but stayed on the shelf after Super Channel went belly up. Producers at New Metric bought the show back and shopped it to CraveTV that launched the show March 24.
Horn, as per normal, is busy. In addition to the two Crave series, she has shot for episodes of Beauty and the Beast and The Man In the High Castle on FX.
“I feel awesome,” she said. “I don’t want to jinx it, but honestly I’m super happy with where my career has been going.”
Performers need nothing more than to work in the film and TV industry, and Horn’s resume continues to grow. She would like to book a feature in the coming year, and is currently living in Los Angeles.
“I’m not bragging, but I’m just proud of myself that I’ve worked every month for the past two years in acting,” she said. “With that being said, it doesn’t mean that I’m rolling in the dough or anything. I’m a working actress in Canada. It’s not like I’m going to be able to buy a house anytime soon.”