From The San Francisco Examiner
January 18, 2010
By Colin Anderson
The SF Sketchfest, the city’s nine years running sketch comedy festival, is officially taking over San Francisco’s nightlife after kicking off its first weekend with a star studded line-up that included actor Dave Foley of the Canadian comedy troupe Kids in the Hall. Foley graced an eager audience with his presence at Saturday night’s midnight showing of the group’s 1996 film Brain Candy at the Clay Theatre in Pacific Heights.
Prior to the nearly sold out screening of the film, a graying but ever-handsome Mr. Foley, casually dressed in jeans, a flannel shirt and a pair of weathered boots, approached the stage, popcorn in hand, to field questions from the audience. Topics ranged from the group’s five year lull following the release of the film, to less serious inquiries such as, “how big is your house?” and “boxers or briefs?” The Q & A session also saw the expected smattering of obscure references made on part of the group’s cult-like following, including a few questions so obscure that even Mr. Foley found himself at a loss. “I don’t even remember that sketch,” answered Foley following a question about licking lobsters and, even after being told the name of the referenced sketch, added, “I still don’t remember that sketch.”
Foley was not without a sense of humor in reminiscing about the group’s collapse and subsequent 15 year retirement from on-screen collaboration as a result of the film’s lack of commercial success and the group’s overly stressed relationship following five seasons of Kids in the Hall on multiple networks. According to Foley, at the time of Brain Candy’s conception the group was already near to desperation but had decided to come together for a week in Ontario in a last ditch effort to rekindle the creative flame. “We were asking ourselves: How do we not let ourselves die? How do we keep from fading into obscurity?” Foley confessed before adding, “Okay, so we already are in obscurity. How do we keep from fading into even deeper obscurity?”
Although the film would later develop a cult following among the Kids in the Hall’s faithful and eccentric fan base, the film was not a commercial success, a fact Foley states is largely indebted to former CEO of Paramount Pictures Sherry Lansing. According to Foley, Lansing demanded that the character Cancer Boy, a minor role played by Bruce McCulloch, be removed from the film as she felt it was offensive. When the group refused, Lansing allegedly reacted by making drastic cuts to the film’s advertising budget and exposure. The end result, says Foley, was that the film, “managed to be released without most of our fans ever knowing it was in theaters.”
A lot has changed since then for the Kids in the Hall who recently reformed for the first time since Brain Candy to collaborate on a new television series. The eight part mini-series, entitled “Death Comes to Town,” features all five members of the original cast, now in their late 40s, posing as a variety of familiar cross-dressed and campy characters. The plot revolves around Mark McKinney, cast in the role of a cod-piece-wearing, motorbike-driving Death, who arrives in a small town with the purpose of taking a few souls, only to wreck havoc among the town’s bizarre inhabitants. Foley, who seemed pleased by positive reactions to screenings by the CBC, implied that the success of the group’s recent reformation could very well lead to further collaborations.
After blowing a kiss to the audience, Foley took a seat to watch Brain Candy alongside the Kids in the Hall’s many dedicated Bay Area admirers, who cheered, laughed, and roared the film on its way to future big screen obscurity.
The SF Sketchfest continues this week with performances from the Whitest Kids U’ Know, the Upright Citizens Brigade, Reno 911, and many more. Continuing in the theme of cult cameos, Monty Python’s Terry Jones will be presenting two of Python’s most infamous films this Thursday, January 21st at the Castro Theatre. Weird Al Yankovic will present a screening of the equally odd ball UHF as the Clay Theatre’s next Saturday midnight movie.