The Kids in the Hall alumni Scott Thompson
The Return of the Kid
Scott Thompson comes back to New York, and leaves the past behind
By Will McKinley
Once upon a time, Scott Thompson was part of the hottest thing in comedy.
Thats what critics called The Kids in the Hall, the Canadian sketch comedy troupe that Thompson joined in 1985. After years of dues-paying in Toronto, the actor-comedian and his four fellow Kids caught the eye of Saturday Night Live impresario Lorne Michaels, who brought the team to New York to develop the groundbreaking TV series that bore their name.
Thompsons characters were unforgettable: the South American diva Francesca Fiori; the Queen of England and the gay raconteur Buddy Cole, whose lispy monologues were as sharply written as they were politically incorrect.
Later, Thompson went on to play Hank Kingsleys assistant on HBOs The Larry Sanders Show and to re-join The Kids for a feature film and sold-out live concerts. And then the trail went cold.
So Thompson dusted off Buddy Coles martini glass and revived his alter ego on-line, as a blogger and podcaster. And now, Thompson is headed back to New York City, where he and The Kids first learned to be funny two decades ago. But this time, hes doing it on his own.
I was surprised to hear that you were doing a show in a stand-up club, as opposed to a theater.
I was surprised myself. Ive done stand-up before, but its been a while. Im in kind of a transitional phase in my career.
What are you transitioning from and to?
Im transitioning from not working to working. I had a really bad year last year and thats why I decided to start performing live again. I thought, Im tired of waiting around for work, so Im just going to make my own work. And I had a story that I needed to get out of my system.
Do you want to give us a preview of that story?
I had a big show that was supposed to open in New York on September 18, 2001. That show was about Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden, and I had a burka, and all the rest of it. And the next thing I know, its all coming true. My boyfriend and I were firebombed by a terrorist group in Los Angeles and
Im not even supposed to be telling you this, because I want to keep it a surprise.
So if you want to hear the rest of the story, come out to Comix.
Exactly. Its basically a story about disasters personal disasters, world disasters.
You spent some time here when you were prepping for The Kids in the Hall TV show. Did you party?
I definitely partied. Kevin (McDonald) and I lived together on 23rd Street above a donut shop. We went dancing at the Limelight and we had a great time. My first real boyfriend was a guy I met in New York. It was not a pretty time to be gay. It was 1987, the height of AIDS. The bars were empty. I remember one time seeing a bartender wearing rubber gloves. It was a very scary time.
Are you a gay comic or are you a comic who happens to be gay?
Im a comic who happens to be gay. Id love it if lots of gay people came to the show, but stand-up clubs dont traditionally attract gay men.
Why do you think that is?
Comedy is a very vicious blood sport, and gay men have always been a target of comedy. I dont think they think of a comedy club as a safe place.
On The Kids in the Hall you used a particular word I guess we have to call it the F word like you were drinking water.
Absolutely. More than I drink water. I hate water. But I love faggot.
How do you feel about the whole controversy surrounding that word?
I think the idea that a word is unsayable is an absolutely terrible thing. You cant solve problems by just papering over them. I think Michael Richards, and Isaiah Washington and Mel Gibson did the country a favor, in a way. People just have to face up to their own prejudice.
When you were doing The Kids in the Hall did you ever think, What am I going to do when this is over? Or did you just think it was going to go on forever?
I imagined it would go on forever. And it didnt. That was a bit of a shock. And you dont really realize its over until years into it. And then you go, Jeez, its been over for a couple years.
But you went on to Larry Sanders and had a big role on that show, right?
Yes. I was unbelievably lucky. And then that ended. And thats when it kind of petered out for me.
Some people probably think, Scott Thompson is a celebrity. He must have a very glamorous life. Tell me something that would be a surprise to those people.
My bank statement. That would be a surprise.
Will you be doing any of your well-known characters as part of this show?
No. No characters. Every other show Ive ever done Ive done characters. But this one, no. Not even Buddy.
Is a Scott Thompson show without Buddy Cole like a Stones concert without Start Me Up?
Oh f*ck. (laughs). I dont know. Well see. Maybe its like The Stones without Jerry Hall. Buddy is something that developed for me because I was afraid to do stand-up. And so he really became my stand-up voice. And as Ive aged and matured, I dont need him as much.
I imagine that people beg you to do Buddy Cole all the time.
Absolutely. And I think theyll probably beg me to do him in this show. But Im not going to do him again on stage without the hair and without the clothes, until he looks the way he should. Its not fair to him. Buddy asked me if he could open for me and I told him no. Its like Im saying to all my characters, Guys I gotta do this one on my own.
But isnt it in the best interest of Buddy Cole and everyone else inside of you for Scott Thompson to be successful?
Yes. Basically, the shows a ransom. If you want to see Buddy again, come to the show. Because if I dont become big again, youre never going to see the characters again.