Published Jul 19, 2017When someone finally explained how podcasts worked to Kevin McDonald, he realized he had an opportunity to do something different with them.
"As I always say, it's the last refuge of the comic scoundrel," he tells Exclaim! from his home in Winnipeg. "I'm tired of pitching TV shows and having them say no. With a podcast, you can do anything, so it's basically an audio version of the TV show I've been pitching forever."
An ingenious and wildly compelling comedic performer originally from Toronto, McDonald is best known as a member of the hugely influential Canadian sketch troupe, the Kids in the Hall. This August marks the first anniversary of McDonald's inventive variety show podcast, Kevin McDonald's Kevin McDonald Show, a mix of sketch comedy, conversations, and musical performances, which has featured guest turns from Mike Myers, Wallace Shawn, Rachel Dratch, Ted Leo, Bob Saget, Michael Showalter, Craig Finn, Susanna Hoffs, Rob Corddry, and fellow Kids Scott Thompson and Dave Foley, among many others.
Though he's quick to acknowledge people like Tom Papa and shows like Comedy Bang Bang for the theatrical absurdity they employ on their respective podcasts, McDonald saw something of a gap that he could fill by entering the fray with his own show.
He originally planned to do a one-on-one interview podcast with musicians as his primary guests. In working with Forever Dog Productions on the format, they suggested that he stage such episodes before a live audience.
"That's when it triggered something," McDonald explains. "If it's going to be in front of a live audience and what I really am is a comedian, why don't we make the interviews a small part of it and do what I've been pitching, which is like an old Jack Benny show, where there are sketches, I'll write a funny song, I'll do a monologue, and I'll have comedy and musical guests."
Fans of McDonald might have expected him to be self-deprecating and a little manic; that's his unique energy. But his revealing monologues about his life are raw and, surprisingly, not joke-centric. In fact, they show off a personal and storytelling side to his personality and add another unique flavour to the comedic chaos of this dynamic, multi-faceted show of his.
"Someone has to take podcasts to the next level," he says. "It can't just be two guys talking about a movie they saw or about Ivan Reitman for an hour every week. I'm not the answer. A variety show is old [as a format] but there's got to be an answer to take the podcast to the next level the way radio led to TV. I don't know the answer though."
Beyond the podcast, McDonald says the Kids in the Hall are contemplating their next move. About a year ago, there was talk of live streaming a new show or perhaps following the route of fellow TV sketch troupe Mr. Show, and re-configuring in TV form (the troupe still performs live) to create new episodes for a streaming service like say, Netflix or Amazon. As of now, nothing has come of such talk.
"Hopefully that's something we can muster before we die," McDonald says cheerily.
McDonald, Foley and Thompson will however represent KITH at the highly anticipated Take Off, Eh benefit in Toronto on July 18. Spearheaded by Dave Thomas and featuring almost everyone from the original SCTV cast, including the reclusive Rick Moranis, it's a remarkable gathering.
While fellow Kids Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney have scheduling conflicts that preclude them from participating, McDonald says the rest of the troupe were happy to take part.
"We got a call from Dave Thomas because a very sad thing happened," McDonald explains. "His 40-year-old nephew was in a snowmobile accident and is paralyzed. So, we're going to try and raise some money for his needs. That part's sad.
"But obviously seeing SCTV with Martin Short hosting and the McKenzie Brothers doing a thing together is exciting. And it's funny, in the last year, Scott, Dave and I have had to do Kids things on our own. We plan to do some greatest hits; Scott's going to do a Buddy Cole and Dave and I are going to do our Citizen Kane sketch and then enjoy the rest of the show."
As for Kevin McDonald's Kevin McDonald Show, McDonald can foresee amping up production in the future. "It's been out once a month, but since I now know our producers are good writers, maybe we'll try to do two a month," he explains. "And then maybe we'll do more one-on-one interviews too."
Listen to this entire interview with Kevin McDonald on Kreative Kontrol here or below: