Scott Thompson Talks Kids In the Hall Tour, New Material and the Downfall of White Men
Published Apr 23, 2015Though they broke up for a spell between 1995 and 2000, iconic Canadian comedy troupe the Kids in the Hall have otherwise been active since 1984. Yet, as they gear up for an extensive North American spring tour featuring brand new and classic bits, some are still calling it a "comeback."
"Yeah, every time!" Scott Thompson tells Exclaim! over the phone from his Toronto home. "People are like, 'Oh, what's it like to be with the boys again? This must be so amazing,' as if we haven't seen each other in 20 years. It couldn't be further from the truth. We're always talking. There's always two or three in the group doing something. We had that period after Brain Candy where we kind of lost it — lost the thread. At least I sure did. But since that five-year period where none of us spoke to each other, we've been together.
"We all have our own careers and there will be long periods where we don't see each other," he adds, "but there'll be an email or group call or something. We made that decision in 2000, when we really did come back together, that this is it; we're here for life. You don't get out."
A proud son of Brampton ON, Thompson is an Emmy-nominated actor, writer, and comedian who appears on the NBC crime show, Hannibal, and was also a featured performer on the groundbreaking '90s HBO sitcom, The Larry Sanders Show. As it happens, Hannibal films in Toronto, where Thompson lives after many years in Los Angeles, but he can still contribute to KITH, even though members live between Canada and the U.S.
"We're basically in two cities, Toronto and Los Angeles," Thompson explains. "Kevin [McDonald]'s in Winnipeg but he's all over the place, constantly travelling. So it's really three cities — y'know the three big ones: Toronto, L.A., and Winnipeg. Right? 'The showbiz triangle,' they call it."
Thompson says this geographic separation just means KITH work differently. When they were younger, they were always together, which inevitably led to constant brainstorming and writing. Now, they exchange ideas online and, even if Thompson shepherds a given concept, he says that, by the time a sketch reaches the general public, it bears every member's fingerprints.
"That's the thing with us; no one can really claim authorship really, of anything because, even if you think it's all yours, there's something by someone in the group in there always, no question. Even a monologue is like that. If you look at everybody's monologues, pretty much everything will have a joke, a line, or a way of doing something that came from someone else. That's the beauty about being in a group; you're not on all the time but when you have five people, there's always someone on."
By the sounds of things, every time KITH plan a tour, it's spurred on by new, fresh ideas and the live show has become a mix of classics and more topical, untested material like something called "Foodies."
"It's a sketch where, in a high-end restaurant, a woman calls a pud a mousse a pudding and it causes chaos with the wait staff," Thompson says. "They just don't know what to do; they eventually have to torch the place. So it's basically satirizing the preciousness of food today.
"There's also a scene with Kevin and Dave where Kevin comes over to talk about breaking up with his imaginary girlfriend," he says, describing other segments. "There's the opening of our show, which is 'Five Men in Wedding Dresses.' That's all new. There's Kevin's song about the history of Kids in the Hall. We were going to do a new Fran and Gordon piece but now we're doing 'Salty Ham,' the original.
"And we're doing a thing — we haven't written it yet but are working on it — where, hopefully, we end the show with a mash-up where Crushing Your Head Guy, Mr. Tyzik, meets other characters and crushes them," Thompson reveals. "We were thinking of it as a way of maybe disposing of characters, like, 'Ah, this one's done.' I want to do it for good but I don't think the others will.
"There are certain characters of mine that I go, 'I'm never going to do this again. Can't we just kill them?' So, there's been a lot of discussion of that. The other thing is, it could be a mash-up of Running Faggot and Head Crusher, if you can imagine. I think that as soon as Running Faggot escapes the people who are trying to kill him, I think he might be crushed by the Head Crusher. It could be funny; we'll see."
Beyond KITH, Thompson has been exploring the world of stand-up, which he's loving, but his pet project is a graphic novel/planned animated series called The Hollow Planet, featuring his Kids' character, Danny Husk — the straight-laced, moustachioed, suburban drone, who actually seems open to whatever life lays before him. A planned trilogy, thus far Thompson has only been able to publish the first volume of the book series.
"I did a Kickstarter a year ago to raise money for a second book but I didn't get enough money," Thompson says. "You see, I'll write it for free — I'm already almost finished the second book, but my artists can't work for free and I don't have a company that'll pay for a second book. But what I'm trying to do right now is, I'm working with a company that is interested in turning it into an animated series, which is basically Danny Husk, as a sex slave at the centre of the Earth."
Thompson says he wrote the book as a sci-fi aficionado but it also reflects his desire to create a property of his own after years of being pigeonholed. Tired of playing neutered gay characters, Thompson wrote The Hollow Planet and has visions for it to be an Archer-like series. He suggests that, much like Mad Men, his story is about the fall of the straight white male, whom he says are "plummeting," and he thought the ultimate defilement could be represented by making someone like Husk a sex slave for a black prince.
"I wanted to explore what was really behind slavery, which is sex — the idea that you could have a human being at your beck and call," Thompson says. "God, sex must be at the centre of it. Money and sex I suppose. I don't care about money; I only care about sex. And I wanted to do it without people being all politically correct saying, 'You can't do that with a black character!' But you can do whatever the fuck you want with a straight white guy in a suit. That's the beauty of it. It's about manhood and what it means to be a man right now. There's a lot of piling on on straight white men right now and a lot of punishment by gay people, people of colour, women, and I don't think it's fair. I don't like bullying, wherever it comes from."
Thompson is particularly distraught about how this PC renaissance is impacting stand-up in the clubs and, for the first time, dudes who have been in power forever are cowering under the scrutiny of cell phone cameras and social media.
"Straight white guys can't get a break right now," Thompson continues. "They can't say anything and you can really see it in comedy right now. Straight white guys are just not doing scary material. They're afraid to because they don't want to be called sexist, racist, homophobic, Islamaphobic. People are so thin-skinned today that it's having a huge effect on comedy."
Read Scott Thompson answer the Exclaim! Questionnaire here.
Listen to this entire interview, including the Questionnaire, below: