The Kids in the Hall is a Canadian sketch comedy troupe first formed in 1984 and consisting of the comedians Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson. They started out performing together on stages in Toronto before hitting it big and getting the attention of Lorne Michaels. A television deal followed and so did a Gemini Award-winning and Primetime Emmy-nominated series called The Kids in the Hall, which ran for five seasons from 1988 to 1995 on CBC in Canada and on HBO and CBS in the United States, one of the few successful sketch comedy shows produced by Lorne Michaels that did not air on Saturday Night.
The group would find ways to stick around following the end of their TV show with a 1996 feature film called Brain Candy, a 2010 miniseries called Death Comes to Town, and several comedy tours throughout North America, but now they are ready to return with another sketch comedy series on Amazon Prime Video, this time airing eight episodes with Lorne returning as an executive producer.
In case you are unaware of The Kids in the Hall (I assume either because you are not old, or because you are not Canadian), I decided to highlight each of their careers in five mini-profiles that focus on their other work outside the comedy group. You have most likely seen these faces somewhere, maybe even in one of your favorite shows.
Born in Etobicoke, Ontario in 1963, Dave Foley dropped out of high school to train at the improv mecca Second City, where he met fellow comedian Kevin McDonald and formed the two-person sketch troupe The Kids in the Hall. The name “The Kids in the Hall” originated from a remark comedian and television star Sid Caesar used to make after one of his jokes went poorly and he decided to blame it on his young writing staff who hung around the studio aka the “kids in the hall.” Later McCulloch, McKinney and Thompson joined the group and it became a five-person troupe.
Outside of The Kids in the Hall, Foley probably most famously played Dave Nelson in the NBC sitcom Newsradio (1995-99). Beyond that he voiced Flik in Pixar’s A Bug’s Life (1998), played H.R. Haldeman in Dick (1999), played All-American Boy in Sky High (2005) and played the obnoxious Pat Hein in ABC sitcom Dr. Ken (2015-17) opposite Ken Jeong. He has also made guest appearances in the TV shows Mr. Show, Will & Grace, Scrubs, The New Adventures of Old Christine, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Hot in Cleveland, How I Met Your Mother, The Middle and Veep, and he has voiced characters in Monsters University, Harvey Beaks, Adventure Time, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Disney’s Prep & Landing shorts.
Born in Montreal, Quebec in 1961, Kevin McDonald studied acting at community college but the dean kicked him out because he couldn’t do drama, but one of his professors encouraged McDonald to pursue a comedy career at Second City in Toronto, where he met Dave Foley and co-founded the first iteration of The Kids in the Hall with him.
Kevin McDonald is probably most recognizable as the voice of Agent Pleakley in Disney’s Lilo & Stitch (2002) and all of its straight-to-video and television sequels and adaptations. There was even a behind-the-scenes reunion in an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series called “Fibber” in which the four other Kids in the Hall members all voiced someone along with McDonald as Pleakley. McDonald also played Pastor Dave in FOX sitcom That ’70s Show, and voiced Almighty Tallest Purple in the Nicktoon Invader Zim and Waffle in the Nicktoon Catscratch. He has also guest-starred in Friends, Newsradio, Seinfeld and Arrested Development and has voiced characters in Johnny Bravo, WordGirl, The Penguins of Madagascar, Fish Hooks, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and Amphibia.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1961, Bruce McCulloch was a successful athlete in high school who moved to Calgary to get educated at Mount Royal College before pivoting to sketch comedy in the comedy troupe The Audience, which he co-founded with Mark McKinney at Calgary’s Loose Moose Theatre Company.
McCulloch released a couple of comedy albums: Shame-Based Man (1995) and Drunk Baby Project (2002) and he directed some music videos for Canadian bands like Tragically Hip and Odds. He also wrote for Saturday Night Live, directed episodes of Schitt’s Creek, Trailer Park Boys and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, produced the Canadian sketch comedy series Tallboyz, created the ABC sitcom Carpoolers, and appeared in the 1999 movie Dick alongside Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as well as the TV series Gilmore Girls, Workaholics, Kroll Show, Man Seeking Woman, Arrested Development and Trailer Park Boys.
Born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1959 the son of a diplomat, Mark McKinney was well-traveled at a young age thanks to his father, but he still attended boarding school in Ontario and majored in political science at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He pivoted to comedy at the Loose Moose Theatre Company in Calgary, Alberta where he met Bruce McCulloch and formed the comedy team The Audience, later moving to Toronto and meeting Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald to join The Kids in the Hall.
After the Kids in the Hall TV series ended in 1995, Lorne Michaels hired Mark McKinney to join the cast of Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 1997. McKinney also co-created, wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed dark comedy Slings & Arrows which aired for three seasons from 2003 to 2006 on The Movie Network in Canada and focused on a Shakespearean theatre festival putting on a different play in each of the show’s seasons (season 1: Hamlet, season 2: Macbeth, season 3: King Lear), with the stories of the plays often having a lot in common with the stories in the episodes. McKinney later wrote and starred in Aaron Sorkin’s NBC series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006-07), played Tom in Man Seeking Woman (2015-17) and played optimistic store manager Glenn in the NBC workplace comedy Superstore (2015-21).
Born in North Bay, Ontario in 1959, Scott Thompson enrolled in York University but was kicked out for being a troublemaker, later finding his calling and joining comedy troupe The Love Cats and meeting Mark McKinney, which led to Thompson joining and becoming the final member of The Kids in the Hall.
Openly gay Scott Thompson and Kids in the Hall writer Paul Bellini have also collaborated in music with the queercore punk band Mouth Congress, and Thompson has played Hank Kingsley’s assistant Brian in The Larry Sanders Show, Jimmy Price in Hannibal, Mr. Bane in Degrassi: The Next Generation and has had guest roles in Star Trek: Voyager, Dharma & Greg, The Simpsons, Reno 911!, American Gods and American Dad! He also has reality show experience hosting the Canadian series My Fabulous Gay Wedding.
As for the future of this group, I can’t wait to see all five of these guys return in their Prime Video revival series and see if they are still as funny as they were when I last saw them in their 1988 series.