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Kids in the Hall | Crushing Heads at a Theater Near You

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We're going for what I'd call a renaissance. The thing that makes this tour exciting is that it's all new material.

 

There is a comedy God - and he's finally seen fit to resurrect the legendary troupe of misfit Canadian improv artists known as The Kids in the Hall for their first North American theater tour in six years. Discovered by sketch comedy king and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, The Kids - otherwise known as Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson - exploded into the American comedy scene when their half-hour, Michaels-produced sketch show debuted on HBO in 1989. It quickly became a cult hit, developing a dedicated fan base and earning Emmy and Ace nominations. The new shows ended in 1995, but lived on in syndication on cable's Comedy Central. Since then, there have been few shows as original and funny (Flight of the Conchords is about the only thing that comes to mind).

The Kids in the Hall's "Live as We'll Ever Be" tour makes a stop in St. Louis at The Pageant on Tuesday night, May 20. I caught up with founding member Kevin McDonald for a brief phone interview at the kick-off of the tour.

How did Kids in the Hall form? Where did you all meet?

It started when I was 19 and I was kicked out of college. Sadly I was taking acting, but the improv teacher told me to go to Second City Workshop; and it was there that I as a teenager met Dave Foley as a teenager. At the end of the first class, I asked him to join my comedy troupe. I didn't know his name and I didn't even have a comedy troupe but there was some kind of chemistry. So we started another comedy troupe with a guy named Luciano Casmiri, and we called ourselves The Kids in the Hall.

Meanwhile, out West, Mark and Bruce were in a five-man troupe called The Audience, and they were the big thing in Calgary. So they moved to Toronto, which is like the big smoke, and our group and their group formed an alliance. There were like eight of us at first, including women, but everyone else got great writing or acting jobs in TV, so it was just the four of us losers left - me Mark, Bruce and Dave. Scott was a guy who also was kicked out of acting in college, and he just sort of worked his way into the troupe. He used to sit in the audience watching us, and he thought we were kindred spirits so he'd just jump onstage every now and then, and was eventually brought into the group officially.

How did the TV show come about?

The five of us had been performing at this small club inToronto for about a year, and we did a show every Monday. And it was like we thought we had a TV show because every Monday we'd do a show of completely new sketches, and we would sell out the place. The next summer, Mark said, ‘Why don't we rent a theater and collect our best sketches and do an hour and a half Best of Kids in the Hall?' So we did that for a week and it became very successful and got good reviews and became kind of a big thing in Toronto. It was that same week that Lorne Michaels had sent talent scouts out and one was in the audience at our show, and that's how we got discovered by Lorne Michaels. He had the idea to produce it as a sketch comedy show. First he hired Mark and Bruce as writers for SNL, then finally a year later he thought all five of us could have a TV show, so he was the executive producer and it was his idea.

What was it like to work with Lorne?

It was great for several reasons. For one, he is great comedy-wise, he's like a comedy Einstein in that everything he says, even if you disagree with it, makes a lot of sense and is smart and is something you'd never think of (and you agree with most of what he says anyway). The other thing that made working with him great is that we didn't see him that much - he trusted us. He was in New York doing SNL and we were in Toronto doing our show and we'd see him a few times a year. Sometimes he'd fly us to New York to see SNL. But it was great that he'd just let us do our thing, and when he did get involved, it was always something that made sense.

This is your first tour together in six years. Why now? Does this mean there are new shows in the works? Will we see the return of KITH on TV?

We're going for what I'd call a renaissance. The thing that makes this tour exciting is that it's all new material. For the past two years, we've gotten together twice a year for three or four days, writing new stuff, then we'd try some of it out in Los Angeles. So we have the best of that material - like the old days. And the hope is that we can get it together after this tour and work on it a little during the tour and hopefully write and shoot another movie. We wouldn't rule out bringing back the TV show - right now we're thinking movie but we wouldn't rule a show out, or at least a series of specials or something.

Although the material is new, will fans see some of theirfavorite KITH characters in the live show?

Yes, you'll see the Chicken Lady, the Gay Monologist, Gavin and the two Kathies.  Oh, and the Head Crusher comes out at the end.

What is your favorite KITH character to play?  Favorite all-time sketch?

My favorite character is the King of Empty Promises (the guy that always said ‘Will do' all the time) - he was sort of based on me. I made him a bit more evil than me but, that was my favorite. And if I had to pick a sketch to go into a Kids in the Hall time capsule, I'd probably have to pickour sketch ‘Reg,' because if you've only seen one Kids in the Hall sketch, it would sort of sum up the troupe. It's the one where we are mourning the loss ofour dead friend, Reg. Then you find out through the sketch that we've actually killed him.

How do you think Canadian humor differs from American humor?

American Humor is more aggressive. We Canadian comedians are sort of half-British and half-American because we get a lot of British TV and all the American TV. So the British are sort of subtle and polite, and Americans are more aggressive, so we're subtly polite aggressives.

What have you been working on personally over the past few years and what is next up for you after the tour?

I've been acting in lots of TV shows and pitching a few TV show ideas. I've been doing all the cartoons (Lilo & Stitch, Cat Scratch and Scooby Doo). After the tour, I would love working on this movie and I have a TV show that I'm going to pitch again. Hopefully I'll get another movie part. Oh and I've been working with Bruce on his TV show, Carpoolers, as a writer and recurring part, so if that gets picked up we may go back and do that. There are a lot of possibilities.

 

The Kids in the Hall

Tuesday, May 20

The Pageant, St. Louis

Doors: 7:00 PM   Show: 8:00 PM

Reserved Main Floor Seating:  $30.00

Reserved Balcony Seating:  $30.00

General Admission - Limited Seating:  $25.00

All Ages 

 

For complete tour dates/venues, visit: www.myspace.com/kithtour08

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