Five Questions with Kevin McDonald
Leon casino, Photo: CBC
You can’t watch five seconds of anything that the genius comedy troupe, the Kids In The Hall have done, and not see Kevin McDonald. The Canadian born comic, who co-created the troupe with Dave Foley, has made quite the name for himself in the world of sketch comedy. He’s made the rounds all over the world in recent years teaching and lecturing on the craft. Occasionally, a very lucky crowd will get to see McDonald do stand-up. At the first annual Come And Take It Comedy Festival, the attending crowd will be one of those to consider themselves lucky. Free Press Houston was fortunate enough to catch up with the hilarious comic, and ask him all about his past and what he has in store for Houston when he’s here.
FPH: You’re from Montreal, and some of the funniest people in comedy are Canadian. Is there something to do with the cold, or the ability to speak French; or what is it exactly that makes Canadians so funny?
KM: I think Canadians are funny for a couple of reasons. First of all, we are half British and half American. So we have the dry wittiness and silliness of the British and the more aggressive joke telling and comic timing of the Americans, combined. And when you put that together, it seems original. Also, Americans think we’re funny because we look like them but we act and think differently - and those differences seem funny. It’s like when an alien from another planet who looks like regular people moves next door to you. You know something is off but you can’t put your finger on it.
FPH: You’re a founder of the Kids In The Hall, but many people don’t know that all of that was incubated when you and Dave (Foley) were at the Second City training center in Toronto. Did being at Second City attribute to what The Kids In The Hall became?
KM: I think that Second City did help the Kids in the Hall became who they are, in some ways. First of all and most importantly, they trained Dave and I. That’s how we learned about improv and performing in front of people. They helped us learn how to write sketches through improv as well. Also they helped by thinking that all 5 of us were too “weird” to put on their main stage - so we had no choice but to form our own group.
FPH: From what I’ve seen of your stand-up act, it’s one of a sketch comedy performer attempting to do stand-up for the first time. Is that what Houston will see at the festival, or will you be doing something completely different?
KM: Yes, my stand up act is one where I play a guy named Kevin McDonald - A sketch actor, trying to do stand up for the first time. It goes over well if the audience knows me - but sometimes if I am at a stand up club where the audience doesn’t know me, they just think I’m a guy having trouble with stand up. I will be trying 3 new bits in this show. I’ve never tried them before and am very nervous about it. But I promise to try my best.
FPH: You’ve done plenty of guest spots on shows, but one of the best I remember seeing on “Seinfeld,” was you appearance as a character affectionately know as “Denim Vest.” Was all of that with the look of the character in the script, or were any of the elements your own?
KM: All that about the attire in my Seinfeld episode was in the script BUT by pure chance, I was a guy who wore jean jackets and blue jeans at the same time. It was only through this episode that I learned that women thought that was stupid and I never wore those clothes at the same time, again.
FPH: As someone who was/is in one of the most iconic sketch comedy troupes of all time, do people constantly ask you to do a certain character when they meet you in person?
KM: Sometimes I meet Kids in the Hall fans who ask me to yell “Evil!” at them because of my character, Sir Simon Milligan. People also ask me to say “Will do” because of my character, The King of Empty Promises (which is sadly based on my real personality - well sad for the people who live with me. Dave and I did two characters called The Sizzler Sisters - two male lunatics who escaped from an asylum, put on dresses and female wigs, call themselves sisters and (Jerry and Jerry) and say “We are two sisters and clearly not two insane people!” We did one sketch with them where they robbed a bank - and once, a few years ago, I was in a bank when someone in line to a teller recognized me and started doing the character’s lines from the sketch. “I am Jerry Sizzler and i am here to rob your bank!” The teller started crying and I quickly had to explain before she set the alarm.
Kevin McDonald is truly one of the “greats” of sketch comedy and it’ll be really cool to have him perform in Houston. He will be doing his three new bits and more when he performs at the Come And Take It Comedy Festival at Warehouse Live January 24th and 25th.