It doesn't take a giant leap, especially when you picture Kinney as Mimi, the muumuu-ed mountain of makeup from "Drew Carey," to mix it together and come up with a perfect "X-Files" villain - some hot-wired genetic anomaly stalking farmers and wreaking satanic brutality on quietly unsuspecting Holsteins and Guernseys.
But that would be wrong.
"She's just a very good actress," said Drew Carey, Mimi's nemesis, but one of Kinney's big boosters. his show at 8pm CST each Wednesday on ABC has grown into the biggest second- season hit on TV. "She's such a strong person. Everything we gave her to say, she turned into something funny.
"The only reason I can make fun of her is that the audience knows she can take it and she can give it back. Mostly, I'm on the defensive."
Kinney has turned "Bite me," the always-angry Mimi's suave riposte to her department store office make, into a TV mantra. When she went out to Las Vegas for a Drew concert this summer, she said, "Everyone was, 'Will you write on my shirt? Will you sign, Bite me. Bite me. Bite me?' Everyone wanted that."
You'll notice that you're lucky if you get the verbs "to be" or "to go" in a Kathy Kinney quote of a quote. "Say, says" and "said" rarely creep into her vocabulary. It's not that she aspires to being a 40ish Valley Girl, it's just that those words get in the way of her rapid-fire storytelling. Kinney may be a large woman, but she's not a slow one.
There's a "Files"-ian twist to her "Drew Carey" experience, what with the backed-up sewer lines and all.
From Tulsa World on December 30, 1996.
Nothing Cosmetic About "Drew Carey's" Mimi
Actress Loves Sitcom Role
By Jonathan Storm...Knight-Ridder Service
Kathy Kinney has some shocking stories. Nothing to drain the color from the face of Mimi Bobeck, whom she plays on "The Drew Carey Show" - it would take an industrial sump pump to polish off all that pigment - but plenty peculiar for a former bartender and factory gal from America's Dairyland.
Her great-grandmother ran away with the French-Canadian fiddle player at the barn dance. Her grandma and grandpa were cousins.
She's allergic to cheese and just about everything else that comes out of a cow, which can cause certain adjustment problems when you're from Wisconsin, the world's fastest-flowing milk spigot.
And, here's the part that's literally shocking: She has this fascination with electricity. "I have a thing about it," she says glowingly, "I like electricity. I love to rewire stuff...I've been shocked so many times. I make lamps, and read, and go to the movies with friends."
Before Kinney was even brought in to audition as Carey's tormentor, before the first episode was made last year, two other women had to be fired.
"They tell it like a legend," she explained. "They would go out to lunch and never be seen again."
So here comes Kinney, without a clue about the role. "I wore cosmetics and everything." Cosmetics like most women wear, not the pounds and pounds that seem permanently affixed to Mimi's mug.
"I did look as attractive as I possibly could. I was wearing my faux Armani. Armani doesn't come in my size."
Like many of sitcomdom's successful supporting players, Kinney was hired just for one episode. But once the pilot was finished, she and everybody else knew that a Drew without a Mimi was like an athlete without a foot..
"They need someone as mean and powerful as me to give him trouble," Kinney said. "Otherwise, life's too easy for him."
There was one big hurdle to pass, however. Mysteriously, the pipes plugged in her dressing-room trailer, and things got more than messy. Now she has a bigger trailer than anyone else on the show.
Dressed in normal clothes, with little makeup and one million freckles, Kinney doesn't look a whole lot like Mimi. And it's difficult to place her in all the TV roles she has had.
She was the slutty librarian on "Newhart," her longest-running role 'til now. She played a woman who had wiped out her entire family in "Good & Evil," which lasted a minute and a half. She shared a jail cell with star Teri Garr.
"I saw her shopping a while ago, and we just started laughing. And she said, "Your show is so funny, not like my show."
"And I said, 'You just needed more makeup, Teri. Can you see it now, a little more eye shadow?'"
Success took a while. She has been in Los Angeles for nine years. "They used to send me out for a lot of retarded-girl stuff when I first got here, you know, me and Amanda Plummer?"
Before that, she did improv in New York, when she wasn't working as a publicist for WCBS-TV, or as a "live-in for a crippled ex-Vogue model" or in the American psychiatric Association office. She and her friend Cindy from Wisconsin were the entire staff.
"We did get free psychiatric, which we didn't use."
And where is she going?
Nowhere, right now.
"I think I'm probably having more fun than just about anybody on TV...In that moment before I go on, I'm so grateful that I'm practically in tears.
"I love that moment where I know that everyone's waiting, and it is so important that I come on right at that exact moment."
© 1996 - 1997 Jeffrey Jay