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Comedy Rock Star Dave Foley Glances Back

The Kids in the Hall are rock stars of sketch comedy, and the records are suddenly back in print: The Kids in the Hall, Season One has been released on DVD. Trying not to sound too much like a groupie, I talked to troupe member Dave Foley about those early episodes, and some of his film work outside of the beloved sketch series.

Indeed, Foley likens the construction of individual episodes to ‘putting together an album’ – sketches were not thrown together but sequenced to avoid ‘bumps’ in terms of style or subject matter. The episodes now on DVD represent the earliest stages of the show, with all of the writing done by the five core members of the troupe. Later in the series other writers were added, often fellow Kids from their pre-stardom Toronto performances (footage of which is included on the DVD release).

In the years immediately following the end of the series, the group dynamic became tenser. Foley notes that his obscure, sporadically brilliant pet project The Wrong Guy (sort of an extended solo album) was ‘a hell of a lot more fun’ and ‘much easier’ to write than Brain Candy, the 1996 Kids in the Hall feature film. He was working on both around the same time – a low point in the troupe’s collective history. The experience of Brain Candy (which, in its Life of Brian-ish mix of sketch characters and narrative satire, has aged quite well) is not recalled fondly, and Foley and his castmates remain somewhat unsatisfied with the final result. He refers to a ‘repressed quality’ in the film’s comedy – a lack of the energy so present in their television series.

I asked, then, if the Kids, who sound effortlessly chummy on the DVD’s commentary track and still occasionally tour together, would attempt, as rumored, a second feature. Foley is enthusiastic about the possibility of a new film, but careful to note that it should only move forward if they have a truly inspired idea. He would also prefer it be as independent as possible, referring to the Dogme 95 aesthetic but rejecting my suggestion of Lars von Trier as a director. (‘He’s not very funny.’)

He’ll soon be seen in Childstar from Canadian writer-director Don McKellar, whose lovely 1999 film Last Night dealt with no less than the end of the world. The new film sounds like a darker and, given the talent, presumably smarter version of Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (I hesitate to even mention the latter, except to say that a brilliant film could still be made from Dickie‘s premise, and McKellar could be the one to do it). Foley, whose NewsRadio character was ‘outed’ as Canadian in a particularly funny episode, will play an American film producer.

Faced with the utterly fanboy-ish question of a favorite Kids in the Hall character, Foley is casually reflective. ‘There was one I saw before I went to bed last night, with Lex (Foley) and Dean, the king of empty promises (Kevin McDonald as a guy forever promising to make it up to you, help you out, etc.)… that was a good sketch.’

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