6.23 the fox

Bill "The Fox" Foster was the master of ceremonies during the first season of "The Man Show"

It's not likely you've ever heard of Bill "The Fox" Foster.

He was a memorable character, though.

No doubt.

The Fox had the well-earned reputation as "The World's Fastest Beer Drinker," and could chug two full mugs of suds in just a couple of seconds. He was also known to throw back brews while standing on his head.

He showcased his drinking skills nightly at his bar, The Fox Inn, in Santa Monica, Calif., where he would sit at his piano singing off-color songs.

The Fox had several brief brushes with fame in his younger years.

He recorded an album of bawdy, suggestive tunes called "Songs Banned in Boston." He also appeared in an episode of the popular television show "Taxi" in 1978 and was featured in the NBC show "Real People" in the 1980s.

The Fox gained his greatest notoriety in the final years of his life.

That brief moment in the national spotlight, sadly, has been all but erased from history.

Let me refresh your memory.

"Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!"

During the first season of Comedy Central's "The Man Show," The Fox was the happy beer-chugging master of ceremonies.

He played his piano in and out of commercial breaks, sang his risque tunes in sing-along fashion with the live audience and finished each show with his signature toast before inhaling the contents of a pair of glass mugs.

At the beginning of each episode, he introduced the hosts of the show.

Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel.

That was 20 years ago.

It feels like much, much longer than that.

Even in 1999, "The Man Show" was considered crude, rude and totally offensive.

I never missed an episode.

Every Sunday evening, I tuned into Comedy Central and I always made sure I had at least one beer left to chug at the end of the show when The Fox shouted out his signature cheer.

"Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!"

I've never forgotten The Fox -- and I probably never will.

I couldn't help but think of him again last week when I heard that Jimmy Kimmel was taking a leave of absence from his late-night talk show on ABC. The announcement came shortly after criticism began to surface over some controversial skits and images from "The Man Show."

I had been telling people for years that this would happen.

The evidence, though, somehow remained hidden away.

At least for a while.

When Kimmel signed on with the Disney-owned ABC, he went through a total makeover. He went from being a pudgy, short, beer-drinking, dirty joke telling goofball to a thin, bearded, respectable commentator whose thoughts on the deepest and most serious of subjects seemed to suddenly be of great importance to the world.

It was stunning.

I found it hard to accept and I couldn't watch his show.

There's a real possibility now that he might not be the host of that show much longer.

The things Kimmel did on "The Man Show" are no longer acceptable.

Period.

Maybe they should have been then, too.

He knows that.

And that's why with hundreds and hundreds of streaming services available to the general public right now, "The Man Show" is nowhere to be found on any of them.

However, there are still some clips on YouTube and there are people -- like me -- who still own the DVDs.

Kimmel made the decision to run from the past and re-make himself into a new character.

That's a race you can't win.

I would be lying if I said I didn't take some degree of pleasure from Kimmel finally being called out.

Though it also makes me sad.

Kimmel was the guy who brought The Fox to "The Man Show." In an episode during the first season, Kimmel talks about sneaking into a bar in Las Vegas when he was just a teenager so he could listen to the silly, dirty songs and watch the guy in the goofy hat chug beers while standing on his head.

In 2000, The Fox passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer.

He was 68.

The Fox appeared in only 22 episodes of "The Man Show."

Those episodes have, largely, been lost to history.

And so has Bill "The Fox" Foster.

Some of us remember, though.

We will never forget.

That's why we still raise a glass a shout ...

"Zicke, Zacke, Zicke, Zacke, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!"

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