By: Andru Valpy - 5/4/2012
WINNIPEG - Our guest today is a Canadian Comedian, Writer, Director, and producer best known for his work in The Kids in The Hall, NewsRadio, A Bug's Life and Celebrity Poker Showdown. He's also been a frequent guest on The Late Late Show on CBS. In between seasons of NewsRadio he forged a feature film career that is still very active today.
In addition to his comedic work, our guest has been seen in HBO's Critically acclaimed miniseries From Earth To The Moon, and has wrote and starred in the film The Wrong Guy which was released in Canada. As if that weren't enough he also directed the Kids in The Hall Documentary, Same Guys New Dresses based on one of the group's recent tours.
Dave Foley will be at Rumors Comedy Club in Winnipeg May 10th through May 12th. We caught up with Foley while on tour.
Andru Valpy: So Dave, you're coming to rumors comedy club next week, and we'll touch on that in just a few, but before we get into that I wanted to take the time to fill our listeners in and catch them up with you before they see you at rumors. Is that cool?
Dave Foley: Sure.
AV: Now throughout your course of work you've had a lot of success in the field of comedy, what do you think your favorite opportunity has been?
Dave Foley: Well obviously it has to be "Kids In The Hall" which is sort of the start of everything for me. You know, without that I wouldn't be in show business.
AV: So that was in 1984, and you teamed up with Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scot Thompson to form "The Kids In The Hall". Together you guys recorded 111 episodes, which spanned over 5 years. When you were recording the show Dave, did you realize how much of an impact the show would have in Canadian culture?
Dave Foley: Uh, no not at the time. We were mostly just hoping to stay on the air. That was kind of our main focus, you know, and hoping people would watch. We thought we were pretty good when we started the t.v. show because we had been doing our club show for a while and we hoped people would like it. We were pretty sure we were the best sketch troupe in Canada at the time, so we just thought and hoped the show would be good.
AV: What was a typical day like on the "Kids In The Hall" set?
Dave Foley: It depended on the time of the year. The beginning of the year was always sort of the least hectic part because we would come in and write for a month and that's the only time we ever had clear time to write. So we would write for a month and then we would film pieces to shoot. Then we would go out and shoot the film pieces and then we'd come back, and while we were editing the film pieces we would start rehearsing pieces for the studio segment, and then we would be editing the film pieces to roll into the studio. Once the studio session was done we would then be editing the studio portions and putting together running orders while writing for the next film cycle. Then everything would overlap. Our day was spent usually...most of the time was spent editing, filming and rehearsing. . . and shooting. We usually ended up doing everything all at once.
AV: Sounds like an all in one kind of packaged production. You guys did everything.
Dave Foley: Well cause the five of us really were control freaks on this show and really insisted that we were in on pretty much every element of production. So we were there for every pre-production meeting and all of the post production and of course we were the main writers for the first year and a half...well we were the only writers...and then throughout (the show) we brought in people to write with us. But generally speaking, it would usually be at least one kid working on every sketch.
AV: What was it like when you received the star on Canada's Walk of Fame?
Dave Foley: Uhhh...It was fun. You know, it's something where it's uh..you know.. Well it was a fun night, I was sitting between Steve Nash and K.D. Lang, I thought that was cool, to see all of those other Canadians and hang out. I guess it's hard to say. It's hard for comedians to cope with being respected. It doesn't come naturally to a comedian to be comfortable with respect. It was definitely pleasant. It was definitely a great evening.
AV: From there, in 1995 you starred as Dave Nelson, a Midwesterner out of place in New York City acting as a news director for WNYX on the NBC Sitcom "NewsRadio", how on earth Dave did you get involved in that production?
Dave Foley: Well it was written for me by Paul Simms, the creator of the show who was a producer on "Larry Sanders". So he wrote the character of Dave with me in mind and called me up in Toronto and said
"I've got this pilot I'm making and I want you to be the star of it".
I had met Paul when I was in L.A. shooting a movie called "It's Pat" and I had gone to a party at his house and we sort of talked, and he remembered me from that, and he was a big "Kids In The Hall" fan. Particularly he was thinking about when I was the straight man in the first Chicken Lady sketch and he saw that sketch and he thought
"The straight mans getting a lot of laughs in the scene where there's somebody in a chicken suit, and that's what I need for my sitcom. Someone that can get laughs off of just reacting to things".
Dave Foley: The radio theme? Really...Barley at all. I mean we really knew nothing about how radio was made. I think Paul did a little bit of research, but if you watch the show, no-one ever seems to do anything you know? Occasionally, Phil and Candy would pretend to broadcast and every once in a while I told someone "Did you cart those promos?", And that was about as deep as we got into knowing anything about radio. You know, it's just mostly about how people in a workplace treat each other and behave.
AV: "NewsRadio" is a true testimony for my next question, because it goes without saying that you shared the stage with some very talented actors and actresses on the program such as Andy Dick, Phil Hartman and Joe Rogan, but I'm curious Dave, out of all of the productions you've worked through your career, which talent do you think you enjoyed working with the most?
Dave Foley: Umm. Well, I mean obviously I go back to the other four "kids", it was a big thing, and everyone on "NewsRadio". Clearly it was amazing to get to sit down every week and work with Phil. That was a pretty great opportunity, one that I will always, always, treasure. I was a big fan of Phil's before we started working together. I've had some pretty nice opportunities. I got to work with Chris Walken and Sissy Spacek in a movie with my friend Brendan Frasier years ago, that was pretty cool. Even recently I got to do a movie with Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper and Henry Rollins ("Suck") so that was pretty cool. You never really know when you're going to have those opportunities.
AV: As I mentioned in our introduction at the beginning of the interview, you're back on tour doing standup comedy. When did you start doing standup again?
Dave Foley: It was about a year ago January I started doing sets around L.A., And then by about March I had enough material to go on the road. It's a nice way to kind of get out and have the chance to be funny, and I was always envious of the stand up world being so portable, much more portable than being a sketch comic.
AV: I think what our listeners would be curious to hear Dave is how you find working in standup in comparison to working on a t.v. set?
Dave Foley: As opposed to a t.v. Set? Well it's very different because working on a t.v. Show, that's like a 9-5 job, only you don't usually work 9-5. You know, it's more of a regular schedule. As opposed to standup...98% of the job is traveling and sitting in a hotel and, for me, watching "CNN", or when I'm in Canada, watching "CBC News Channel" and eating club sandwiches. Then for 2 hours a night you get up and tell jokes.
AV: A lot of our readers often get to know their favorite comedians through t.v. shows like "Kids In The Hall" or "NewsRadio", so when they hear that someone such as yourself is coming through to do standup comedy there is often a buzz that is generated from such an announcement. When you preform standup comedy Dave, do you automatically feel a sense of pressure to fit the audiences presumed perception of you?
Dave Foley: Well I think I've felt like there's was an expectation to be myself and to be honest. It's not like I can just adopt a standup persona. I've been on t.v. And in the press for 25 years. Everybody who's going to come to the shows knows a lot about me so I defiantly had to be myself. That's the kind of standup I really gravitate towards anyway. I love what Louis CK does these days, I think he's amazing, and that's kind of the sort of standup I do. It's really just talking about my life and things in general. It's not very joke based.
AV: It's more observational based?
Dave Foley: Yeah, it's just telling stories and talking about things that I think are funny, about my experiences or things I think about the world. I'm not doing a lot about like how bad air travel is. That's not the kind of comedy I'm doing.
AV: What can fans expect from you during your tour?
Dave Foley: Filth. Mostly filthy. Really, very, very. . You know, I would say it's filthy, left wing. Very much in keeping with "The Kids In The Hall".
AV: So going back to the roots kind of?
Dave Foley: Yes. If you don't like swearing, or dark humour, then you really won't enjoy me.
AV: Well it's good to have that advance warning. Quickly, before we go, is there anything else that you're working on that you want to plug?
Dave Foley: Right now, no, just out doing standup and then going to go home and take a break for a little while.
AV: How can fans keep up with you or catch up with your action?
Dave Foley: Well I'm on Twitter. I do that more consistently than I communicate in any other way. I have a Facebook Fanpage, but I don't have a website or anything like that.
AV: So 140 characters or less is the best way to get in touch with you?
Dave Foley: Yes.
AV: And that's @DaveSFoley is that right?
Dave Foley: @DaveSFoley yes.
AV: Well thank you so much for giving us the time today Dave, we appreciate that.
Dave Foley: Well thank you and I hope we've at least talked Kevin McDonald into coming to the show.
AV: Fingers crossed!
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(c) 2012 A. Valpy - Wake Up Winnipeg/UMFM