Head Crusher, the Chicken Lady and more. Here, McKinney dishes on his Kids in the Hall and Saturday Night Life days, and what he’s been up to since."> Head Crusher, the Chicken Lady and more. Here, McKinney dishes on his Kids in the Hall and Saturday Night Life days, and what he’s been up to since." />

The Comedy Issue: Mark McKinney


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Mark McKinney wraps up with Less Than Kind, which airs its final season this June

For our Comedy Issue, we interviewed seven of the city’s top comedians. Today, we present Mark McKinney, the man who brought us characters such as the Head Crusher, the Chicken Lady and more. Here, McKinney dishes on his Kids in the Hall and Saturday Night Life days, and what he’s been up to since.

On Sidecar, one of his favourite Toronto eateries: Now that The Kids in the Hall don’t eat with their hands, I took Bruce [McCulloch] and Scott [Thompson] there the other night.

Learning a speech from Richard III for his latest project, a  program about a Shakespearean director: I don’t know why they thought it would be more fun to do it with people who didn’t know Shakespeare, but it’s good because I get to ask dumb, obvious questions about famous pieces.

On Less Than Kind, the HBO Canada series for which he is showrunner: The Globe and Mail kept insisting on calling it a black comedy as though it was The Young Ones. It’s not at all. It’s just about a dysfunctional Winnipeg family taking you places you can go on pay cable, which is language and a little bit of content. But ultimately it was a comedy with soul — it wasn’t even Arrested Development.

His approach to writing comedy for TV: Comedy is drama interrupted by slightly ludicrous behaviour.

What it was like spending months in Manitoba’s capital filming: Calgary is a few hundred miles from anywhere that culturally matters. Certainly in the ’80s, when I was there, you made your own fun, you followed your own local rock bands. Winnipeg is very much the same way. It’s got an incredibly thriving music and theatre scene.

Why he took forever to edit the final season of Less Than Kind, which begins airing this June: I didn’t want to let go. There was a bit of heightened perfectionism there.

On Saturday Night Live: You pass through it, you’re like a waiter at a restaurant with a really good location. You come in, do your time and you go. I went there twice, once as a writer, which was my first job in showbiz ever. That was hard but constructive because I learned how to write. You have to have your sketches ready for Wednesday at 2 p.m., so you have two days to absorb who the host is, try to think of something to write and get it done.
Is he anything like the characters he has played? At times in my life I was Chicken Lady or Darill or Richard in Slings and Arrows. They’re all pieces of me: ugly, twisted, stunted men.

On being a Kid in the Hall: There’s a feeling of, I guess, how Marines feel — ‘We were there, man. We were in Grenada, together, getting food poisoning.’ It’s an extended family now.

Another Kids reunion? We are trying to figure out right now something to do.… Since we haven’t officially been working together, we have still managed to put together one, two, three tours and a miniseries. That’s not bad since we are officially disbanded. 

 

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