The Kids in the Hall: Dave Foley Discusses Returning to Changed World
Dave Foley has developed into a comedy icon thanks to his start as a founding member of The Kids in the Hall. Along with Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson, the troupe, which formed in 1984, blasted out the Canadian comedy scene with their masterful sketch work of improvisation and social commentary including becoming pioneers for the LGBTQ community with Thompson's contributions as the lone gay cast member. Their success translated to television as the troupe was able to land a deal on CBC in Canada and HBO and CBS in the United States with their five-season stint from 1989 to 1995. Following the show, the group starred in the 1996 film Brain Candy, which since developed a cult following. With the series revival on Amazon Prime Video, I spoke with Foley about the 27-year wait for that elusive sixth season, if anything in the creative process has changed, and adapting the narrative in the social media age.
Following The Kids in the Hall film Brain Candy, the group went off on their own respective careers- that that included Foley, who landed the starring role on the NBC sitcom NewsRadio for five seasons. Since then, the troupe reunited for reunion tours, festivals, and even the miniseries Death Comes to Town before taking up Amazon's offer on a new season. "It felt like no time had passed [filming the new season] and in almost all in the good ways," Foley said. "I think we're picking up on most of our good traits and few of our bad ones in terms of how we dealt with each other. It was definitely getting in the writers' room. First, getting in here and I think of as a relief that we were in the room not only to hear that I had good ideas, which was a nice relief but also to hear that the other guys had good ideas and that we were coming up with stuff that was sort of exciting to communicate with each other comically. The writing felt very much like the old days and then as always, I think our favorite time together is always when we're performing together. Seeing the other guys in front of cameras, it really felt great to be acting with those four guys again. For me, it's exciting to watch what they do, the other guys. I think that for them, watching me is at least bearable. So yeah, it was it really was a wonderful experience."
Early in the KITH run, Foley regularly paired with McDonald writing on sketches. "I think the old pairings still kind of dominated. I've always written with Scott [Thompson] quite a bit and written less with Mark and Bruce over the years, but then there are always been these that were written by all five of us and hammered out by the group," he said. "Many of them have been a little more of pitching in on each other's teams in terms of rewriting than we used to do in the old days just because most of the effects of scheduling. I think sometimes we get very busy on other things while we were working. Yeah, mostly the same old things and it's not rigid. It's much more fluid than I think people think."
Some of Foley's most popular sketches include "The Axe Murderer", "The Surgeon", "Citizen Kane", "Nobody Likes Us", and "Anal-Probing Aliens". As far as creative autonomy goes, the actor admits the troupe never ran into such issues from their social commentary during their time on HBO, CBS, and now Prime Video. Criticism, on the other hand, has shifted. "It's a different leash than there used to be," he said. "I think when we started out, we were on HBO, which gave us a lot of freedom in terms of content, and then when we went to CBS, the CBC in Canada created an adult prime where they gave us pretty much complete freedom from censorship. So there's always been an uncensored version of 'The Kids in the Hall' throughout our lives, at least the largely uncensored version is we still had to deal with network notes. This one right now there's sort of a general fear of people are very much afraid of any kind of social media backlash on anything. Where the censorship is coming from [is] a new angle. Used to be pretty much the Christian right was the thing we used to have to deal with and that now, [we're] more and more dealing with the liberal left, [which] is more the source of most of the censorship these days."
There have been notable guest stars from The Kids in the Hall past including Neve Campbell and Nicole De Boer before they achieved bigger fame, and the latest season will also feature some familiar comedic talent in cameos from Pete Davidson, Catherine O'Hara, Kenan Thompson, Will Forte, and more. "I doubt that there were that many people clamoring to get in," Foley said. "We definitely had a lot of friends, because we're producing is doing COVID. We did have a bunch of good friends in the comedy world to do sort of cameo appearances in the show. So they all shot remotely without us and then we had a few guests that actually were in the studio with us and in sketches with us. For the most part, the five are so selfish about screen time that we didn't really leave a lot of room for anyone else. There were just a few pieces, a few roles that we gave over to some outsiders that we were particularly fond of. We're pretty selfish about air time." The Kids in the Hall make their return on Prime Video on May 13th. For Foley talking about a possible NewsRadio reboot, you can check it out here.
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