from the Hall heads up big-screen debut
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Francisco Examiner, Tuesday, April 9, 1996 · Page C 1)
from the Hall heads up big-screen debut
moment I realized how geeky I was, I tried to be funny'
EXAMINER STAFF CRITIC
Scott Thompson of TV's cult comedy troupe "Kids in the Hall" is
frantically trying to think of something funny. He wants desperately
to give us a clever photo opportunity, so he's pacing the lobby
of the Prescott Hotel in search of inspiration. He likes the fireplace
and makes the connection between it and his T-shirt that advertises
the L.A. rock band Porno For Pyros.
"Do you have any porno we could burn?" the 36-year-old actor-writer
asks at the information desk. When the answer comes back negative,
he goes back to the fireplace, staring at it as if waiting for
it to answer a question. Much to the delight of the hotel staff
and the folks at the adjoining PosTrio restaurant, who are practically
genuflecting at the sight of this comic deity, he decides to drop
is a big responsibility to be funny all the time," Thompson admits
after ordering lunch from an adoring waiter. "But I'd rather have
that than people expecting me to be macho. At least it's something
that I can live up to."
is in town to promote "Kids in the Hall Brain Candy," a new film
featuring the Canadian comedy quintet. Known primarily for their
TV show, now in reruns on cable's Comedy Central, the Kids have
made a considerable artistic leap by starring in and co-writing
a dramatic film in which they play over 40 roles. Unlike many
TV comedians making movies, the Kids have created a film that
has little to do with their beloved series. Only a few of the
show's recurrent characters pop up in this farce about a drug
company that changes the world with an over-the-counter anti-depressant.
"If it's research to fall apart and have nervous breakdowns, then
yes, I did a lot of research," Thompson admits. "The show ended
and I wasn't prepared. It had been my whole life for so long and
I couldn't handle it. I didn't have a boyfriend and I thought
everything was over and I just fell apart.
think anti-depressants can help people, but as a comedian, I fetishize
my darkness. I really believe that it helps my comedy. I don't
cultivate it or court it, but I try not to run from it. I had
that kind of Protestant upbringing. My father is 67 and he'd never
taken an aspirin until a couple of years ago." Since he was a
child, humor has been Thompson's favorite brand of therapy.
the moment I realized how geeky I was, I tried to be funny. I
was not a complete pansy, but I certainly wasn't Huck Finn. I
was much more a nerd and I think being funny was a way for me
to fit in and not get beat up."
Kids in the Hall - a comedy troupe of four straight guys and one
gay guy who play hundreds of characters, many of them female -
has often been cited as an example of how America's Canadian neighbors
have cultivated a less macho-obsessed culture. Thompson agrees
with this analysis.
settling of Canada was much like America's - genocide, wars against
the Indians, etc., but the symbol of settlement was the Mountie,
the cop, whereas the American equivalent is the gunfighter. The
Mountie brought order, government and peace. The gunfighter brought
chaos and violence. A lot of the early Canadian settlers were
people fleeing America who were a little more willing to bow down
to England, a little less aggressive, a little more sucky."
"Brain Candy" was conceived by the Kids during a retreat that
followed the final taping of the series. During that two-week
brainstorming session, the group came up with 110 pages of scenes
around the idea of drugs, suicide and depression. Norm Hiscock
- who co-wrote the TV show and now writes for "Saturday Night
Live" - then hammered out a story that the Kids then destroyed.
Many drafts were written as the group assigned each other homework
for nearly a year. The only character that remained from the original
sessions was Thompson's Wally, a closeted family man whose life
is revolutionized by the drug. The role demanded several nude
know in "The Exorcist,' when the devil's inside her and it spells
out across her chest "Help Me'? I think Wally's nudity is a cry
for help. And I think my bum's never looked better."
one of Thompson's characters, the androgynous scientist Baxter,
bares a striking resemblance to Fran Lebowitz. What does he think
the writer and raconteur will think of her likeness finding its
way into the film?
"She'll love it. She loves "Kids in the Hall.' She took me and
my boyfriend out for dinner in Toronto and told me that a lot
of literary people love the Kids. That was very impressive to
me, being a closet snob and all."
Thompson admits that he gets bored with talking about himself.
Although he's certainly interested in the film's future, nothing
gets him going like the subject of gay life in the '90s.
actually think - and this may get me into trouble - that gay men
are collectively going insane and that we should admit it. We've
seen a level of death that maybe no one in our culture has seen
except maybe for black men. We live in the third world in a first
world country. The incredible drug use and promiscuity that's
back again is insane. I think it's tragic that this long into
the epidemic we're not talking about love, fidelity. So many of
the people who run our community make money off of death, our
neuroses. And I think that's really sad.
doing tremendously well for what we're going through, but this
idea that we have to put on this happy face and tell the world
we're wonderful will hurt us even more in the future. I say tell
the truth and look at ourselves. We're anorexic. We look at the
mirror and see something smiling back, but that's not what we
really look like. We're a skinny person who thinks we're fat.
"That's not very funny. I haven't said anything funny yet."
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