Kids in the Hall's Bruce McCulloch and Kevin McDonald, Still Flowing Like Old Man River
It's not fair to call the Kids in the Hall's upcoming show at the Majestic a "reunion." The troupe and their fans know that fate will always conspire to keep them together.
Kids in the Hall: Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Dave Foley, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson.
"We're part of what the Black Crowes call the river," troupe member Bruce McCulloch said. "We just keep flowing,"
Sure they have other projects they're working on as they navigate the maze of show business, as they've done since they stopped doing their critically acclaimed sketch show back in the '90s. That doesn't stop troupe members McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Dave Foley, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson from instinctively brainstorming new ideas for sketches and characters. McDonald said they still find themselves suddenly thinking of things they can do with the inquisitive young Gavin or the evil Simon Milligan and his Satan spawned man-servant Hecubus.
"If we had any thought that we'd still be together as we turned 50," McDonald said, "we would have used a different name for sure."
The show the group is performing at The Majestic on April 27 isn't part of a large nationwide string of shows. It's more of a launching pad for what could be their next tour, and Dallas is lucky enough to get a preview of the sketches that the rest of North America may or may not see when that tour comes to fruition.
McCullough said the idea came from a recent reunion of sorts at their original stomping grounds in Toronto at a place called The Rivoli, where they originally performed weekly sketch and improv shows before Lorne Michaels persuaded the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to give them their own TV show.
"It's the way we used to perform when we would get together in our salad days at the Rivoli in Toronto," McCulloch said. "We would get together and write a show for that weekend, and I said let's do that. So we did that in Toronto in December and did five shows in a 500-seat theater and it was all new material and it was really fun. It was kind of the test of can we still write together and is it fun together, and for whatever reason, people quite liked it."
The group still seems to have that same energy that drove them as young comedians, McDonald said.
"Some of us get in less good shape in terms of physical energy, but it doesn't seem to matter when we're on stage," McDonald said. "The energy and excitement for the idea we're doing is always there and you can sort of feel it and it does affect you physically and you do sort of get more physical energy from it. When it starts dying, it's probably because we're like 70 and we can't do it anymore."
The sketches are still the same fresh mix of new stand-alone scenes and familiar characters being thrown into all new situations. McDonald said the shows tend to reflect where the troupe members are in their lives, even though some of them try not to purposely age their characters.
"One of our ideas for a Simon and Hecubus sketch is the evil of aging because we're aging, so we sort of address what's happening to us," McDonald said. "Our last tour three or four years ago, it was less about aging and more about having children and becoming a family as everyone does. When we address what's going on to their lives, it's more personalized."
The style of sketch writing and chemistry that they've built over the years keeps them coming back to tour as fans clamor for new shows, even if their various projects have kept them separated. McCulloch, for example, is working on a new comedy memoir novel about his life, called Let's Start a Riot, that's scheduled for a release in Canada in October with an American release date to follow. McDonald said he actually worked as a guest writer on the last couple of seasons for Saturday Night Live and is also flying back to Toronto to write and direct his own movie.
"It's funny, but I still think of sketches even though I don't have a show anymore," McDonald said. "So it's sad, but every three or four years we get together with the Kids in the Hall and I have a reason to write it, which makes me happy."
McCulloch said the material may be different, but the spirit they injected into their sketches so many years ago is still there.
"I love that we can do it. We still feel young to me. It's still fun to do," McCulloch said. "It's a terrible name to age to and of course, it's ironic now.
"I remember seeing Mavis Staples here in Los Angeles and she was 75 and she was so fucking good. Then she said, 'There's a lot of CDs available in the lobby' and I'm thinking she's Mavis Staples. She's as good as she probably ever had been and she's hocking her fucking CDs. We're all kind of the same. We're all still doing our stuff."