The five-man Canadian sketch comedian troupe The Kids In the Hall perform at Treasure Island on Friday (today), and Bruce McCulloch took some time out of the nationwide tour to chat about what fans can expect from the show.
Here, McCulloch talks about how they got back together, whether they still have the same fights from 20 years ago and his thoughts on Las Vegas.
What is it like when the five of you reunite after so many years?
It’s weird because it’s kind of the same. We are happy to see each other but we need to get down to business and we do that rather quickly. It’s probably even now more fun than it was way back when because it was more complicated then. Now we’re getting back together because we really want to.
Why do you think it was more complicated then?
When we started the troupe, first of all we didn’t know we’d be locked to each others’ hips for 25 years. I think we were young men who were all pushing because everything mattered the most. Of course, everything can’t matter the most. There was a time when we needed each other. We were defined by each other and each other’s actions and attitudes. And now we’re not. Now we choose to be together and it’s not like these guys are my entire life. Choosing to be together every now and then makes it way more fun.
How does that happen? You’ve described yourselves as A-type personalities. Is there one true leader in the group who rounds everyone up to reunite?
Yes, that’s kind of me but that doesn’t make me the leader. That makes me the fool that everyone laughs at. We’re all punks, right? So if I say, “Let’s get together on the 13th,” they say (in a childish voice), “Let’s get together on the 13th.” And someone will say, “Why can’t we get together on the 12th?” And someone else says, “Why can’t we get together on the 30th?” The person who proposes to do the activity is like the suit and that’s often me.
But creatively, there’s no leader. We’re a five-headed, I wouldn’t even say monster. We’re a five-headed sweet but confused mammal going in several directions.
Everybody has an idea how something should go. And it can be anything from kind of an improvised piece, where we improvise it through an idea and then finally figure out what it is. And it can be someone bringing in a script and everyone beats it up.
I think with this tour, we’ve tried to do a lot more group scenes for whatever reason. I can do a solo scene when I’m doing my one-man show. I don’t need to do that in “The Kids in the Hall” show. It’s fun to do a lot of five-man stuff of four-man stuff in this show. That makes it fun to do. That usually has more people writing it, generally. Everybody’s kind of responsible for their part often.
It sounds like there will be some new material in the show?
Yeah, there’s some brand new material and there’s some older characters in new scenes and then there’s a few things we felt we really should do. It’s kind of the one-third, one-third, one-third principle.
I read that sometimes the five of you dread getting back together because you’ll have the same fights you had in the ’80s. Does that still happen?
I don’t know if it’s that. Scott might be still having the same fights that we had in the ’80s but I think the rest of us aren’t. He wants to talk about sexual politics and we’re like, “Don’t spill coffee on me, Scott. Let’s just read the script.”
It is like a family where you go home for Christmas and you know you’re a totally together person in your 30s but you act like an 11 year old in your pajamas. I think it’s that. I think we can be infantile with each other in a way that we’re probably not often in the rest of our lives. Part of that is teasing and of course we’re weirdos. Any one of us can get obsessed about anything anytime be it an idea or a business plan. I always say the punch can come from anywhere and you generally don’t see it coming.
I don’t think they’re old fights. I think they’re just old relationships that are like the same glare you’ve been getting from some guy for 25 years.
I feel like we have this nostalgia for television shows from our youth. Is that what drives these tours?
That makes me sad in a way. When some guy who to me looks older than me says, “I watched you growing up,” it’s weird. We don’t do it that often. We did a few shows last year but we haven’t done a major tour for seven years. I’m obsessed with not being the Beach Boys on their endless summer tour where they just limply hit a beach ball into the crowd.
I think the lifeblood of us is our new material. We’re always writing stuff when we get together. We wouldn’t do a show without new material.
Do you have a favorite character?
Not really. My characters are generally paper thin anyway. I like to do female characters. I like my Kathy, the secretary. She seems to have a hopeful world view that I don’t necessarily always have. And she’s a bit silly. That’s fun to do, but I don’t know if that’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.
How often do you get to Las Vegas?
Infrequently. Once I realized bananas cost $4 in whatever hotel you’re staying in. Not very often.
Do you remember your first trip here?
Yes. I did. We were doing a show there. I thought, “Wow, there’s a lot of lights and people really smoke a lot.” That was my first thought on Las Vegas.
Tickets start at $49.95.
Tickets: Treasure Island, (866) 712-9308