In a world of
needless endless reunions, there’s one that always makes us happy: The Kids in the Hall. Our favorite cross-dressing comedy troupe has just released the 1988 pilot for their cult TV show on DVD (check out the Special Headcrusher Edition here) and performed new material at last month’s Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. We phoned Dave Foley, who graciously interrupted his breakfast to fill us in on some of the DVD’s best stories, what’s next for the Kids, and which one of the other guys (Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, or Scott Thompson) is “pissy” at the moment.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It’s interesting that you guys chose to release the DVD 19 years after the pilot aired instead of…
Dave Foley: 20 years? [Laughs] Yeah. Interesting. Poorly planned. You tell me.
Which sketch in the pilot best encapsulates the Kids?
If there’s an archetype, “Reg” might be it. It starts out slow, kinda acty off the top. We try to fake out the audience pretty much. And then it seems like just a silly sketch about guys remembering a dead friend. And then there’s the final revelation that he’s only dead because we murdered him. It’s the sort of thing that still makes us laugh, you know, the idea of people that screwed up that they’d be sadly mourning a guy they killed.
How is your new material different?
It reflects the fact that we’re all middle-aged guys now. We have a scene called “Hateful Baby” that’s, I guess, a little bit about being parents, ‘cause three of us are parents now. One couple comes over to see their friends’ baby, and when they’re left alone with the baby, they decide that the baby is just purely hateful and they can’t connect to the baby at all.
I read something about a planned sketch called “Happy 25th Anniversary, AIDS.”
That’s one we wound up not writing, but that delighted us. [Laughs] We were going up to do the 25th anniversary of Just for Laughs, and we thought it might be fun to do something like, “You know what else is celebrating its 25th anniversary? AIDS.” Then do one of those tributes: “AIDS, we didn’t think you’d last, but here you are, going strong at 25.” Structurally, we didn’t get it to hold together… but I still think it’s a funny idea. [Laughs]
In the pilot DVD extras, Kevin mentions that he was going to play the “AIDS fairy” in a sketch until audiences in New York, where you were rehearsing, responded poorly.
It was part of a sketch that’s in the pilot, where Scott as Fran is doing a monologue about her son coming out of the closet. There’s a point where Fran turns and talks about her husband, who is sort of in a coma because of this, and goes, “I just wonder what Gordon is thinking.” And we go into Gordon’s fantasies about what his son Brian’s gay life is about. Mark is my German boyfriend and when we used to do the sketch on stage [at Toronto’s Rivoli nightclub], we would pantomime having anal sex. And as Mark was sort of flying into me like an airplane, Kevin came out dressed as the AIDS fairy, with a bucket full of glitter, and sprinkled AIDS dust on us. In Toronto, where people knew us, it got laughs. When we did it in New York, literally stone silence and people were just walking out. So we thought, all right, maybe for our pilot, we better soft-pedal it a little ‘til people know who we are.
My favorite story from the DVD is when you said that in between the two tapings for the pilot, Lorne Michaels came backstage and said, “I guess you guys don’t want a show.”
Yeah, he basically said, “Well, that was horrible.” And it was. We let the machinery of the show overwhelm us in the first performance. We were being polite and nice and letting the stage manager tell us, “Okay, you gotta stand here and wait for us to cue you to walk onto the set.” Before the second show, we put on the Godfathers’ “Birth, School, Work, Death” in our dressing room, and Kevin and I smashed up all the chairs. [Laughs] And then we went out and marched past the stage director who was desperately trying to keep us from going in front of the audience. We had the Shadowy Men playing in the studio, and we just just ran out and danced on the floor and just did whatever we wanted. We made the studio feel like it was our club, our place to play. We knew if we didn’t do a good job we weren’t gonna have a TV series.
What’s next for the Kids? Another stage tour?
We don’t really know. We’re not really good at planning. We were talking about going out and touring with the new material, because we were really happy with it. But then Bruce’s TV show [he’s exec-producing the fall ABC comedy Carpoolers] got picked up, so that sort of put a kink in that idea for a little while anyway. With us, it’s always a problem of scheduling, and then the problem of agreeing to an idea. We are talking about still trying to write a movie together, or doing some sort of limited run TV series. That wouldn’t be a sketch show. I think that’s one thing we all agree on: We wouldn’t want to get back together to do another sketch show.
Bruce isn’t on any of the DVD extras. Is that because he’s busy with Carpoolers?
No, I don’t really understand why. That’s the world of the Kids in the Hall: You never know who’s gonna be the pissy one. [Laughs]
The DVD cover art has a hand crushing Bruce’s head. Is that in response to his lack of participation?
I didn’t know they were doing that until I saw the boxes come out. Maybe Bruce pissed off somebody in packaging.