Interview with Kevin McDonald

Kevin McDonald is one of the members of the cult favorite comedy troupe “The Kids in the Hall”.  Kevin is by far the most energetic member of the members.  Movie Mikes took a chance to chat with Kevin about working with the troupe and the new mini-series “Death Comes to Town”.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you have a favorite character that you played in the original “The Kids in the Hall”?
Kevin McDonald: During the sketch show, my favorite character would be the King of Empty Promises. I only did it twice during the series because we never did the same characters a lot…besides the head crusher and the chicken lady. We never did the photocopier guy every Saturday. King of Empty Promises is the guy that promises things and says “Will do” and “Slipped my mind”. I am sort of like that, “Yeah you want that…Yeah I’ll get that for you”. I always forget and never do anything. My writing partner in the show Norm (Hiscock) said you have that evil trait and he said that it should be a sketch. So we wrote it up. Instead of me playing myself again, we decided I would do it like Paul Bellini, Scott (Thompson)’s writing partner. I am lousy at doing impressions but me doing Bellini’s impression is what became of the character in ‘Empty Promises’ sketch.

MG: “Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy” was one of my favorites of the 90’s, are you a fan?
KM: I am a fan of it. I am a little disappointed with the end with came up with. We tried hard and actually had a original ending that we shot but it didn’t seem to work with audiences. It probably would have been the right way to go but not in the terms of audiences. Once we got a little more money, we re-shot the ending as a little more mainstream and it would have been better but then took away half the money. So instead of it being eight scenes, it was four scenes and some of the details were lost. Monty Python is so smart. With their first movie it was a gag fest and an excuse for sketches in the “Holy Grail”. I guess we were ambitious, good for us, we jumped right into a real movie. It probably would have taken us two or three movies to get it right. Also learning to write together in the same room is hard. We have been writing sketches like two or three at a time and all six of us were in this board room writing and it was really hard.

MG: Would you consider that the bad time for the group?
KM: The group has had a series of downfalls and up falls [laughs], like any group of creative people. There is always creative differences and arguments. When it works it makes the work better and when it doesn’t work it cripples the works for a bit. When we were a club act before our TV show, we had an argument about what kind of comedy we should do and that was resolve by just doing it over and over. During the TV show, three of us did not like the producer in charge and two of us like him. That was horrible fight we always forget about. “Brain Candy” arguments are more in our mind now but that was a really horrible one which almost split up the group. What saved us originally is that we were canceled after the first season but luckily they changed their mind and then we ended up firing the producer. But “Brain Candy” was just hard for so many reasons Dave (Foley) was becoming a TV star with “Newsradio”. Scott and I had deaths in our family. It was so ambitious…not like “Ben Hur” or “Avatar”…but it was ambitious in the way we were trying to tell a story. I think the story took over the comedy and that divided the group. Dave actually quit right before we started shooting “Brain Candy” and then was still forced to do the movie since he already signed the contract. That part was horribly tense, especially because him and I are like best friends. The movie didn’t do well but in the meantime our show was showing on repeats and that is where we really got our audience. We stopped filming the show in 1995 but from 1996-2000, Comedy Central was repeating our show to death. We were talking in a reunion tour and that is why the troupe is still a troupe. I don’t think we will every split up until the first one of dies and my money is on Dave [laughs].

MG: Tell us about the groups return to TV with “The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town”?
KM: Before that we had the 2008 tour, which was a unique tour from our other tours since it was new material. Between 2006 and 2008, we did some shows at the Steve Allen Theater and we worked out some pretty good material. It was really exciting for us not doing the greatest hits like we had, but to do all new stuff. Led by Bruce (McCulloch), he had an idea for a movie called “Death Comes to Town”. I worked on it with him during the tour. It was so exciting that the new material was going over so well and we wanted to keep writing new stuff. We thought if we got a new TV show our tour, we will sell out every night. It sort of grew and grew and became a mini-series. We always thought mini-series, we never wanted to do a lot of seasons. The writing process was different again with Bruce in charge and I helped out with the writing, instead of all five of us. Then we all met up a couple of times in Toronto with the other three. I think the good thing about that we that we got it done quickly and easily. The bad thing was that I think we missed a lot of the troupes flavor.

MG: What else do you have planned for the future? Any more tours?
KM: The group is trying to get another tour together but it is really hard. We started planning for the Spring, now that isn’t going to happen. So maybe in the Fall now. Like the past year, I am just concentrated on coming to Winnipeg and become a good boyfriend and father figure to my girlfriends two children. But I am writing another pilot with now, which I was hired to write called “Homeland Insecurity”. I just did a TV show, which is 4-minute episode which will be online with plans for a 30 minute format later this year, it is called “Papillon”. It has nothing to do with the Steve McQueen movie but that is what it is called.

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