The Kids in the Hall are back and getting along. ‘This time we’re not lying’

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
The Kids in the Hall are back and getting along. ‘This time we’re not lying’

TORONTO — It seems the Kids are all right.

Infighting between members of the Canadian sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall has been well-documented over the years, but as they promote their new Amazon Prime Video reboot of their original series, Dave Foley insists they “get along.”

“We would say that anyway, but this time we’re not lying,” fellow troupe member Kevin McDonald addedin a video interview with Foley. 

“We still fight and we still backstab each other, but that’s the way we work,” agreedFoley.

“I always say when I’m on set: ‘Backstab away, just don’t tell me. Never ever tell me.’ And we’re OK,” jested McDonald.

Debuting May 13, the new Toronto-shot series is named after the original sketch series “The Kids in the Hall,” which aired from 1989 to 1995 on CBC. It also ran on CBS and HBO in the United States.

Joining it on the streaming service on May 20 and following its own premiere on Tuesday this week at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto is “The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks,” a two-part documentary on the troupe’s past, present and future directed by Reg Harkema. 

The doc includes archival footage, behind-the-scenes clips, and interviews with comedy legends who all took inspiration from the beloved Canadian troupe. 

As Harkema noted at a Hot Docs press conference in March, he felt “proud” to examine the group’s impact on other well-known comics who have long seen The Kids in the Hall as “personalities that broke open a window to the (comedy) world for them.”

The fivesome, which also includes Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson, originally timed the comeback fortheir 30th anniversary in 2019.

“But then a different pandemic called The Kids in the Hall’s Inability to Make a Decision happened, so it took a little longer,” said Foley, citing delays including a longing to reunitewith the Lorne Michaels-founded production company Broadway Video, and find a global platform.

McDonald said they started writing the series before the COVID-19 pandemic hitand had to take a year off before resuming due to lockdowns.

Rounding up the gang again was like wrangling cats, they said.

“Cats that all have individual representation,” Foley said. 

“And ex-wives,” added McDonald.

“Multiple ex-wives,” jested Foley.

“The Kids in the Hall” started in 1984 and pushed the boundaries of TV comedy, with cast members in drag and sketches that tackled heavy topics, including religion and sexuality.

“I always feel I’m a better person when I play a woman,” said Montreal-born McDonald, whose other credits include the Fox sitcom “That ’70s Show.”

“I’m smarter, I’m kinder to people. So it’s always fun — besides the three-hour makeup process.”

Memorable Kids in the Hall characters have included McKinney’s Headcrusher and Chicken Lady, Thompson as the Queen, McCulloch’s Cabbage Head, and Foley and McDonald as the Sizzler Sisters.

The new series will have a “very low quotient of nostalgia,” said Foley, noting they’re “basically just pursuing new ideas and new material.” 

“Are we allowed to say characters? I don’t know if we’re allowed to say,” said McDonald, to which Foley quipped: “Allowed? We don’t follow no stinking rules.”

McDonald then let it slip that Thompson’s gay socialite character Buddy Cole likely returns, as do Toronto police officers played by McCulloch and McKinney. 

The new eight-episode series was shot in studio and outside locations. 

The proliferation of short comedy sketches on social media platforms including TikTok didn’t influence the length of their material, they said, noting a sketch comedy show should be short anyway.

“This is going to shock you: I’ve never looked at TikTok,” said Foley, to which McDonald said he hadn’t either.

The Kids continued to collaborate after the original series ended, reuniting for the 1996 comedy film “Brain Candy,” several tours and the 2010 CBC miniseries “Death Comes to Town.”

But, as Paul Myers wrote in his 2018 book “The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy,” it wasn’t always friendly.

Myers said Foley and McDonald sometimes fought with McKinney and McCulloch, while Thompson was a mediator of sorts. Foley once quit the troupe, resulting in tension on the set of “Brain Candy.”

But since 2000, they happily get together every three or four years to do something, says McDonald, likening their run now to “a B-movie version of Monty Python’s career.”

“I refer to it not as a reunion but a relapse,” jested Toronto-raised Foley, whose other credits include the series “NewsRadio,” “Hot in Cleveland” and “Celebrity Poker Showdown.”

“Yes. It’s a relapse. In a way, we’re drinking again and it feels good,” added McDonald.

“In between those three or four years, I look forward to it all the time. And I’m never disappointed. I’m always thinking ‘Oh, we’re funny. Oh, we love and get mad at each other the same way that we always do.'”

As long as there are no mirrors in the room, they always feel like they’re still “angry 20-year-old comedians,” said Foley.

McDonald agreed.

“Even when we’re about to look at the editing and I’m about to see a scene with Dave and I, I imagine I’m going to see skinny, crazy-haired Kevin and young Dave — and I always get shocked,” added McDonald. “I’m still always shocked when I see footage of us and we don’t look like we did.”

Said Foley: “Because we still act like we did.”

-With files from Sadaf Ahsan 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2022. 

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