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Creating Comedy With Kevin McDonald From 'Kids In The Hall'

If you’re looking to brush up on your improv and comedy skills, the creator of a beloved sketch comedy TV show is coming to Pensacola to help.

It’s been a little over 30 years since Kevin McDonald met fellow comedian Dave Foley while they were with Second City in Toronto and founded the comedy improv group The Kids in the Hall.

“We had comedy chemistry right away. We didn’t know each other’s names, but we met doing the old ‘actors mirror’ exercise. And by the end of that three hour class we had started a comedy troupe. It’s like falling in love, comedy chemistry. And in Toronto we were the original Kids in the Hall.”

And that love affair is still going on. "The Kids in the Hall" TV show debuted in the U.S. on HBO in 1988 and ran on various networks for six years. Since then McDonald has been in movies and TV in front of the camera and as a voice actor. And he has started running workshops for people who want to pick up a little of that comedy magic. He says he loves working with people during the day and then having them join him on stage in the evening.

“I could never make money doing something I don’t love. So I go around to towns on the occasional weekend (and) teach these workshops during the day and perform at night. And though we didn’t know what we were doing at the time, in my own professorial way, I sort of figured out what we were doing and I teach the workshop students how to write sketch comedy through improv, which is the original way we started writing.”

He says while you can’t really teach people to be funny, you can teach them to be funnier and to improve their writing.

McDonald says that while "The Kids in the Hall" was never a show with big ratings, they had a good five year run and very loyal fans. They also shared an executive producer with another sketch comedy program you may have heard of, Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live.

“Scott Thompson, (another member of the Kids in the Hall) always says this when people ask him the difference between us and 'Saturday Night Live.' He says if The Kids in the Hall and 'Saturday Night Live' were both lemonades, 'Saturday Night Live' would be that sweet lemonade that everybody likes. Everybody likes sweet lemonade. But we’re lemonade without sugar, we’re the bittersweet lemonade. Not a lot of people love that kind of lemonade, but the people who love it, love it. And that’s how you get a cult following.”

Kevin McDonald is scheduled to be in Pensacola on Wednesday, Aug. 14 holding an improv comedy workshop during the day, and performing for an audience with his workshop students at Vinyl Music Hall that evening. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.