Small wonder that Rye native Nick Kroll wound up on a comedy about guys and their fantasy football league. Sports played a central role in his formative years in Rye.
"I grew up playing Little League baseball at Disbrow and Gagliardo fields," Kroll told the Rye Patch. He co-stars in The League on the FX cable network, which returns for a third season of 13 episodes, starting Oct. 6.
"I played basketball at the Osborn gym. I also played soccer. I just grew up playing local sports and riding my bike around," he said. Kroll graduated from Rye Country Day School and his parents still live in
Rye. "It's an idyllic town. It's beautiful. It's on the water. It provided
a great childhood but it's only 45 minutes from New York City by train, sort of the best of both worlds."
Kroll, who has supplied numerous voices to cartoon shows and
performed regularly with the highly-regarded Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York and Los Angeles, gave credit to a teacher in Rye for guiding him toward a career in entertainment.
"I had done some performing at Rye Country Day," he recalled. "I did one or two plays. I had a teacher there, Cary Fuller, who was just a lovely guy and he encouraged me to perform."
Also helpful, he said, were the friendships he made at Rye. Kroll said that Rodney Ruxin, his character on The League, relates to his buddies on the comedy much as Kroll relates to the good friends he made in Rye.
Kroll pointed to other similarities between his FX comedy series and his hometown. The series is set in Winnetka, a Chicago suburb that has a similar feel to Rye. "When I go home on the metro train from New York to Rye, I get approached by more guys who watch the show than just about anywhere else I go," he said. "So I think the guys from where I grew up really identify with the guys on the show, who are pretty well-educated and interested in football."
The show is about high school friends who stay bonded through fantasy football, Kroll said. "And people approach us and tell us that this is what they do, guys from high school and friends from college. They live all over the country but this is the hub that keeps them bonded."
After he graduated from Rye Country Day School, Kroll attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and gravitated toward
improvisational comedy. At the time, another co-star on The League, Paul Scheer, was performing improv in New York. "His group came down and performed at an improv festival and that was one of those defining moments for me," Kroll said.
On The League, Kroll's character is a Jewish product liability lawyer who will stop at almost nothing to lead the fantasy football league. He is occasionally paranoid and hates using his first name. His nickname, "the Herdsman," is a reference to his tendency to date overweight girls in high school. At the end of last season, Ruxin won the League championship.
Last season, on average, FX said The League was viewed, on
average, by 1.4 million people, most of them (1.1 million) between the ages of 18 and 49, the type of audience preferred by most advertisers. Those numbers representedan increase of about 5 percent over the first season.