Scott Thompson talks Cancer and Kids in the Hall Reunion
Admin Note: This article was published in 2010, however I just found it, read it and fell in love with it. Enjoy!
As far as I’m concerned, you can’t really be an authentic Canadian unless you love THE KIDS IN THE HALL.
They are my girlhood comedy heroes.
If you’ve never heard of these five fabulous gentlemen, be sure to check them out. They’re wickedly hilarious.
It saddens me that SCOTT THOMPSON was so ill. I had absolutely no idea. But here at CP we wish him good health and endless amounts of wondrous stuff in 2010.
Of all THE KIDS IN THE HALL fans who have been waiting for the beloved comedy troupe to return to series television, perhaps none has been as eager as group member SCOTT THOMPSON.
Their absurdist comic mystery DEATH COMES TO TOWN airs on CBC on Tuesday night.
SCOTT claimed that if it were up to him it would have come years earlier. He said his own professional pursuits sputtered after THE KIDS retired their CBC sketch comedy show in 1994 and that his stage career virtually imploded in 2001 when he sunk all his money into an ill timed show about terrorism in New York City.
SCOTT felt that it was THE KIDS’ well received reunion tour in 2008 that reignited the creative juices of the group, inspiring them to brainstorm an eight part miniseries about a codpiece wearing demon who arrives in a quirky Ontario town to collect a few souls.
“This show has been the panacea for all five of us. For me, it’s definitely what I’ve been waiting for.” He added that he had long wished for a TV reunion.
“Probably since 96,” he joked.
SCOTT said that he had hit “rock bottom” by the time MARK McKINNEY, KEVIN McDONALD, DAVE FOLEY and BRUCE McCULLOCH agreed to regroup.
But he was dealt another blow just as the revered comics began work on new material: cancer.
He was diagnosed last March with non Hodgkin’s gastric lymphoma, an aggressive form of stomach cancer. SCOTT was told that it was inoperable.
“We were getting ready to write the first drafts of the series and I got thrown overboard by my diagnosis.”
He was living in LA at the time.
“It completely threw me so I had to come home (to Toronto).”
SCOTT underwent six bouts of chemotherapy and was determined to get well enough to shoot the miniseries before summer was over.
“For me, it was that light in the darkness for all those months. I just kept focusing on it and going, ‘I have to be well enough to shoot this series. First of all, I can’t die – that’s not going to be good. And I’m not giving these parts to Mark and Dave. Forget it.’ ”
The irony of working on a series about death was not lost on anyone, he added.
“I got pretty sick and I couldn’t really participate for a certain period. In the writers’ room they just set up a bed for me – they put a mattress on the floor and whenever I would feel well enough to join in I would and then if I was going to vomit I’d go outside and come back in.”
Shooting was postponed so that SCOTT could complete his chemotherapy before appearing in front of the cameras. He wrapped up the rigorous treatments on August 1 of last year and was shooting the series by August 15.
“They were amazing,” Thompson said of his comedy partners.
“They treated me like nothing was different, they mocked me ruthlessly, made fun of my cancer and it’s what I needed.”
Two days after the seven week shoot ended, SCOTT began a four month stint of radiation. He is now cancer free.
MARK McKINNEY, who largely appears half naked in his role as the surly, single toothed Death, said the reunion was so much fun there’s talk of more collaborations. In the meantime, negotiations are ongoing to land a broadcast deal for DEATH COMES TO TOWN in the United States.
Of all THE KIDS, he and DAVE FOLEY have arguably maintained the strongest public profiles since the group left television roughly 15 years ago.
MARK McKINNEY appeared as a cast member on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and was in the film THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO. He wrote and performed in critically acclaimed series including NBC’s shortlivedSTUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP and the defunct Canadian dramaSLINGS & ARROWS. He also currently writes for the dark comedy LESS THAN KIND, which begins a second season on HBO Canada next month.
DAVE FOLEY went on to a steady stream of TV and film gigs, including a starring role in the NBC sitcom NEWSRADIO and recurring guest spots on big network shows like WILL & GRACE.
BRUCE McCULLOCH pursued a career as a film director, helming the movies DOG PARK and MOLLY SHANNON’S SUPERSTAR in 1999. He later created (and wrote on) the shortlived ABC sitcom CARPOOLERS in 2007.
KEVIN McDONALD’S string of character roles included stints on THAT 70s SHOW, DREW CAREY, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and LESS THAN KIND.
Interspersed were various shortlived KIDS reunions that included the 1996 film BRAIN CANDY and three tours in the last 10 years. SCOTT said the group – notoriously fractious when they were together – stayed close even as each went in different directions. Of the five of them, SCOTT was the most eager to try a TV comeback.
“The first few years (after the sketch show ended) I was convinced that the rest of my career would just be an ongoing slope up. And then the slope ended and there was a precipitous drop,” SCOTT commented.
His post KIDS days included recurring roles on THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW in 1998, PROVIDENCE in 2001 and CARPOOLERS in 2007.
“And then, as I was dropping, about halfway to the bottom I went,‘Jeez, maybe it’d be good if the Kids In The Hall did something more in television.’ Then I hit rock bottom. And then I woke up and the next thing I knew, it was happening.”
They’re not exactly kids any more. But a glimpse at the new series reveals the same ludicrous sensibility that earned them a cult like following.
Looking back on 2009, SCOTT called it both the best and the worst of his life. But after overcoming devastating health and career woes he says he feels invigorated and excited by the future and especially proud of returning to the spotlight with his comedy brothers.
“I’m so excited. I’m so happy. Imagine – I’m alive, I’m cancer free and I’m on the verge of a comeback.”