In the Modern Family episode “Sex, Lies & Kickball,” while Jay (Ed O’Neill) welcomes his best friend Shorty (Chazz Palminteri) from Costa Rica into his home, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) visit with fellow gay dad Pepper. They take their kids to the park and have a picnic and eat ice cream. Everything goes well until a game of kickball ensues.
Pepper is portrayed by triple-threat Nathan Lane. Lane is known for his roles on the TV shows American Crime Story (F. Lee Bailey), The Good Wife (Clarke Hayden), and in the films The Producers (Max Bialystock, also on Broadway), Frankie and Johnny (Tim), He Said, She Said (Wally Thurman), Ironweed (Harold Allen), and last but not least The Birdcage (Albert Goldman). In The Birdcage Lane played opposite the late great Robin Williams. Pepper’s attempt to play kickball on Modern Family reminds us of Lane/Albert’s hilarious and spot-on impersonation of John Wayne in The Birdcage. (Williams’ brilliant response to Lane’s strut is a revelation: “I never realized John Wayne walked like that.”) See below. Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9pm on ABC.