A Whole Lotta Kids in the Hall

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Candy-coated Kids: Scott Thompson & Co. survive their first feature

This article is property of its writer and publication and is reprinted here without permission.

(EYE, a Toronto free paper, 41196, p. 29, by Gemma Files)

For the Kids In The Hall, a.k.a. comedians David Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson, it's good news/bad news time. The good news is the imminent release of the first feature film, *Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy*; leading the pack on the bad news front is freelance writer Andrew Clark's recent *Saturday Night* magazine article, which strongly implied that personal tragedy and internal tensions may have finally destroyed their working relationship.

Which seems only fitting, in a sick sort of way. After all, *Brain Candy*'s script revolves around a scientist (McDonald) who invents a depression-curing drug that is released on the market before it's been fully tested, courtesy of a megalomaniacal drug company executive (McKinney) and his chief toady (Foley). The new drug turns the angst-ridden world we know into an obnoxious, bubblegum-colored parody of itself, proving the old idea that without enough darkness to provide contrast, light don't mean diddly.

Is misery, then, the font of all true creativity?

Well... not *all*, according to both McCulloch and Thompson.

"It's not that life *can't* be hard," McCulloch says. "Just... not for *me* -- for other people."

Thompson agrees (sort of).

"Let's put it this way: Nobody *needs* to suffer, but we all do anyway, so we might as well get something in return while we're down there wallowing. I know that the process of writing and performing can definitely pull me out of a real deep well."

As McCulloch is quick to point out, the concept of tension in the workplace is also hardly something restricted to the Kids in the Hall.

"We're professionals," he says. "I mean, stuff like this happens in banks. It hurts at the time, but it's just not enough to make somebody storm out and never come back."

"I think it's like when siblings fight," says Thompson. "Objectively, it's appalling. To an outsider, it must look like we're attacking each other on the most primal level, like we're strangling each other's children on a daily basis. But it's not like we were fighting about how our trailers weren't long enough, or how there were no blue M&Ms in our hotel suites."

Adds McCulloch: "It's not like we go around throwing hot coffee on each other."

And with that topic firmly out of the way, we're free to return to the subject at hand, *Brain Candy.* Which, even produced as it is under *Saturday Night Live* creator Lorne Michaels' banner, still retains such a palpably north-of-the-border vibe that you have to wonder how well it's going to travel -- especially in a market used to comedies where the biggest ethical question is whether Wayne should try for both the girl *and* the guitar.

In *Brain Candy* every character has a big moral dilemma to address, whether it's Thompson's businessman and his struggle with his repressed homosexuality, which only finds freedom under the medication, or McCulloch's parody of a grunge artist who becomes an award-winning success only after the drug inspires him to spew out a piece of pop pap called "Happiness Pie." These are only the *main* characters, of course; there are perhaps only two actors in the movie who aren't Kids and they aren't in it for very long.

"We did the best Canadian trick," McCulloch claims. "We took the U.S.'s money, the tools and toys of their culture, and then we did it exactly the same way we were already going to do it. We shot in and around Toronto without pretending it was New York. We got Craig Northey from The Odds to do the music."

(Not to mention taking a slyly Canadian chomp at the hand that fed them -- check out the extreme physical similarity between executive producer Michaels and a demented corporate executive played by McKinney.)

"I've never had a problem with inflicting what amuses me personally on the world at large," says Thompson. "If I did, I sure wouldn't have a web site on the Internet."

The site in question, ScottLand, is a wonkily elaborate family endeavor maintained by two of his brothers and a cousin. An alternate world where everyone becomes Scott Thompson (even you), ScottLand is best described as a benign dictatorship masquerading as a constitutional monarchy, presided over by Thompson himself in his best-known guise: the queen of all Queens. Like McCulloch's *Shame-Based Man* CD and continuing short film work for *SNL*, it counts as yet more proof that full and satisfying lives exist for all the Kids beyond -- though not in spite of -- their status as former CBC icons.

"*Saturday Night* aside," Thompson says, "I prefer to reserve judgment until we try putting the next movie together. If no one shows up, then I guess it *is* all over for us."

"I bet we do, though," McCulloch puts in. "I bet we *can't stay away...*"


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 Adrienne Young

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