© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald of 'Kids in the Hall' on their return to the air


Just a few notes from this theme song that's not by B.J. Leiderman, who does our theme music, brings back memories. The Kids in the Hall, the Canadian quintuplet of sketch comedy had to come back earlier this year. Their show ran on CBC TV from 1988 to 1995 and a few American broadcasters. They've also done a movie and stage shows and last spring, returned with a new series on Amazon Prime video. They may be a little grayer, but still edgy, zany, graphic, even gross more than 30 years after they started. We spoke to two of the founders of Kids in the Hall, Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald, in May and asked what it was like to have their whole crew back together.

DAVE FOLEY: Yeah, there's the phenomenon that kicks in whenever we get together that we stop being aware of the fact that we're old men, and we feel like we're all young punks again.

KEVIN MCDONALD: Yes. And we're usually, like, together every three or four years. But this time it was a bigger event. It was, like, a TV show again. But it sort of felt the same with, as you would say, more gray hair. I can't move funny as much as I used to because my knees hurt more.

SIMON: Well, you're plenty funny from what I saw.

MCDONALD: Yeah, but when my knees are 100%, man, I'm super funny.

FOLEY: Yeah. Same thing happened to Bobby Orr.

SIMON: Right.

FOLEY: He was - yeah, his knees went, and he was not funny anymore.

MCDONALD: He was hilarious before the knee went.

SIMON: Yeah, a lot of people don't know that he was a comic and a hockey player.

FOLEY: Yeah.

SIMON: But thanks for pointing that out. I want to mention...

FOLEY: Yeah.

SIMON: ...Your fellow troupe members, of course - Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson.


FOLEY: Yeah, they're much lesser.

SIMON: And they have, despite that, done a lot of films and shows and voices over the years and guest shots. Are you all better performers now, do you think?

FOLEY: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think we got pretty good in the old show.

MCDONALD: I think we are, for sure. Scott was amazing. Dave's always amazing. Mark's always amazing. Bruce is always Bruce. And...


MCDONALD: No, which - I mean, he only does what he - the thing that he does, he can't do any better. It's what he does.

SIMON: What a generous answer, I think. I want to ask you about a pretty startling continuing sketch in this new series, and that's - we're going to play a clip - Motormouth in the Morning.


FOLEY: (As character) The weather today is mostly lethal, so stay indoors. And by indoors, we mean underground in a secure bunker or an abandoned mine. Well, enough chitter chatter. Let's get at her. This is Motormouth in the Morning. Ready or not, here I rock.


MELANIE: (Singing) Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates. You got a brand new key.

SIMON: Oh, my. So the premise is the world has suffered a terrible environmental disaster. And to compound that, there's just one record left.

FOLEY: There's only one record left, and it is "Brand New Key" by Melanie. And for my money, if it came down to it, if I could pick one record to listen to for the remainder of humanity's tenure on Earth, that would be the one I would pick. There is no more cheerful song in the world.

SIMON: Well, I mean, it makes you certainly laugh, but also cringe a bit because it's not quite ridiculous. It's almost plausible, isn't it?

FOLEY: Yeah. Well, it was a thing - I guess I wrote it during the darkest depths of the Trump administration, and it was the kind of reflecting that. And just - and, you know, it was just the idea of if everything falls apart, you fall back in on old habits and patterns to keep yourself sort of some semblance of sanity.

SIMON: I have read about this new series reports that you almost relish the chance to be potentially offensive.

MCDONALD: (Laughter).

FOLEY: Yeah. Well, I think we never set out to be offensive.

MCDONALD: Yes. Yes. Dave's right. Yes.

FOLEY: But I guess...

MCDONALD: We just are. We just are.

FOLEY: ...The stuff that makes each of us laugh, you know, the ideas that we think are funny, can be offensive to some people. But our - and certainly our intention is never to be offensive. It's to be honest about what we think is silly. And...

MCDONALD: If we did that, we would just be offensive, and we would be less funny. And that's not what we're trying to do. We're trying to be funny.

FOLEY: Yeah.

SIMON: Let me ask you about a sketch in particular. A man in an office wears clown shoes into work. And by the way, which, once I saw it, I thought, I got to get a pair. But in any event, he is called in, and he is fired for cultural appropriation from Bingo the Clown.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) A complaint?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Yep.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) About what?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Well, it's about your shoes, Dan.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) My shoes? Oh, that's ridiculous. Everybody loves my shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) No, there's been an anonymous complaint that says your shoes are an example of cultural appropriation.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) Who made this complaint?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) I'm not at liberty to say, Dan. It's anonymous.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) Well, I think I need to know.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Well, I can't tell you, Dan.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) I think I deserve to know.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Can't tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) I'd like to know.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Can't tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) Well, I think you should tell me.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) I really can't tell you, Dan.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) Well, I want to know.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Well, I can't say.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) All right.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) But I think I know who it is.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Well, I don't think so.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Dan) It was Bingo, wasn't it?

SIMON: Now, do you risk - I don't even want to use a - what's become almost a cliche, like offending - do you risk hurting the feelings of people who feel that North American culture has appropriated music, food, fashion and other items of culture from them?

FOLEY: Well, they can be offended, but I think they're misunderstanding what culture is, that culture is something that travels and morphs and mutates and cross-pollinates.

SIMON: May I ask, is there stuff that you dropped?

FOLEY: Not by choice, for the most part. There were definitely things that we had that we weren't able to get past the current regime of censorship.

MCDONALD: But we took it well, and we understood.

FOLEY: Yeah. We've always felt like our comedy was centered in empathy.


FOLEY: I don't think we've ever done anything that we considered to be nasty or trying to attack anybody or mock anyone.

SIMON: Are you all friends outside of Kids In The Hall?

FOLEY: Yes. Yeah.

MCDONALD: Yes. And we're not even lying.

FOLEY: Yeah, at the moment. There were points in...

MCDONALD: You never know.

FOLEY: There were points in the past when we would have been lying. But...

MCDONALD: There are dips. But hopefully we're old enough that we're past any dip.

SIMON: What's it like to look across the stage or a studio or a set at each other now, after all these years, and still be churning and working together?

FOLEY: It's very gratifying and comforting and entertaining. And especially for me, doing stuff with Kevin, there really is nobody on Earth that I feel more chemistry with and more kind of - sort of a psychic connection than Kevin.

MCDONALD: And me, too. Also, they surprise me all the time. I mean, after all these years, they still surprise me in what they say or what they do, which keeps it, like, still young.

FOLEY: Yeah. And when the five of us are together - I think I laugh more when the five of us are together than at any other point in my life.

MCDONALD: Yes. The pompous thing I always say is, we're not the five funniest people in the world, but we're the five funniest people that work together if you forget about Monty Python.

FOLEY: And please forget about them, just for the purpose of this story.

SIMON: I don't think I even recognize the name. That's...


MCDONALD: There you go.

SIMON: That's how much I admire what you do. Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald - Kids in the Hall are back, now on Amazon Prime Video alongside a new documentary, "The Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks." Thank you so much for being with us, gentlemen, if I may call you that.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

FOLEY: Thank you for having us.

MCDONALD: This was amazing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.