Kids in the Hall’s Bruce McCulloch: Detroit’s one of our favorite places

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Kids in the Hall’s Bruce McCulloch: Detroit’s one of our favorite places

Posted on: June 11th, 2014 by tommyj

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The Kids in the Hall, clockwise from top left: Kevin McDonald, Scott Thompson, Mark McKinney, Dave Foley and Bruce McCulloch.
The Kids in the Hall, clockwise from top left: Kevin McDonald, Scott Thompson, Mark McKinney, Dave Foley and Bruce McCulloch.

They are crushing your head. But only in the sense that if you’re a Kids in the Hall fan, your brain is probably swirling with joy right now. Those five Canadian guys, who became cult comedy gods in the 1990s with their subversive television series, are bringing their new tour to metro Detroit.

Their two shows Saturday at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, part of the group’s first tour since 2008, will feature some classic skits as well as new riffs on topics like foodie culture, and fresh scenes with familiar characters. And, spoiler alert, they’ll be wearing bridal gowns for one bit.

In a conversation last week, Bruce McCulloch — aka cigar-smoking Cabbage Head, annoyingly talkative Gavin and salty ham-despising Gordon — explained why he, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson still enjoy working together. He also shared memories of previous Motor City stops and chose which rock band is most like these eternal Kids.

QUESTION: You’re going to five cities on this tour. Why did Royal Oak make the list?

ANSWER: We’ve performed there before. Detroit is one of our favorite places. I remember the first show we did in America, we did a little tiny theater in Detroit and every night, people showed up. That was when we first realized that our (TV) show was making an impact.

Q: I read recently that you called one of the stops, Washington, D.C., the flirtiest city. What is Detroit?

A: The dirtiest city. And I don’t mean literally. I mean figuratively. There’s something visceral about it. I remember on that first tour, it was the first time anybody rushed the stage. And it was like, “We’re a comedy troupe. They rushed the stage. Now what?” There’s something raucous about the audiences in Detroit that we’ve always had fun with.

Q: You’ve appeared on current series like Comedy Central’s “The Kroll Show” and “Workaholics” and the online season of “Arrested Development.” Is there a TV show or troupe these days that feels the most like a descendant of the Kids in the Hall?

A: It’s funny, we were talking about that. Some people in the troupe were going, like, the Whitest Kids We Know. There’s Comedy Bang! Bang! I think it does some pretty cool stuff. I think we all have a place in our hearts for Tim (Heidecker) and Eric (Wareheim, of “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” on Adult Swim). We think they’re pretty brilliant. There are aspects of what we do in other places, but obviously there’s a legion of great comedy that’s come since us.

Q: You’ve made some landmark comedy contributions outside Kids in the Hall, too. Do you have a story from directing the great and underrated movie “Superstar” with Molly Shannon?

A: Well, it was the first day of filming and Tom Green, on the first day of the first scene, went and pulled Molly Shannon’s arms so hard that she hurt her ribs. It was like, “Oh boy, this is going to be a long shoot.” … It was kind of a time when I’d graduated in my life. It just felt like there were all of us, me, Will Ferrell and Molly, getting to make this great, weird film and people were letting us do it, which felt a lot like the Kids in the Hall.

Q: Another classic is the Watergate comedy “Dick,” with your portrayal of Carl Bernstein as a frustrated second banana (to Will Ferrell’s Bob Woodward). Have you ever met Bernstein in person?

A: No, I haven’t. I wish I would. But it’s interesting that after I did that portrayal, I saw him so many times on TV and I thought I got him a little bit right and, of course, mostly wrong. (Director) Andy Fleming was very smart to hire me, because I do play the frustrated little man or the weird little man very well.

Q: All of you guys in Kids in the Hall still enjoy working with each other. What’s the secret?

A: We went through many years where our lives were tied together professionally. We had to make decisions together. Are we going to do another movie? Are we going to keep doing the show? I think now because we all do other things, we feel quite lucky to be able to do this. And we don’t do this that often. We used to, it was kind of like (being) a young punk, going, “Well of course people are going to love us!” But now that we’re older, I can’t believe that a theater full of people come to see us. I think we carry that through. We used to have to work together. Now we get to work together.

Q: If Kids in the Hall were a band, which band would you be?

A: It would have to be a band that wasn’t very successful. As my wife says, everything we touch turns to cult. I’d like to think we were R.E.M. or They Might Be Giants, but we would probably be the Pixies.

Contact Julie Hinds: 313-222-6427 or

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