Tag Archives: Kids in the Hall

Tallboyz II Men take on television with Bruce McCulloch in their corner

You couldn’t ask for a better person to mentor a group of sketch comedians than Bruce McCulloch. That’s what’s happened to Toronto’s Tallboyz II Men, who have gone from becoming a troupe to starring in their own television series in just three years.

Tallboyz—debuting Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBC—stars Tim Blair, Vance Banzo, Franco Nguyen and Guled Abdi, who formed a sketch alliance after meeting in the city’s comedy scene. Collectively, their credits include Outstanding Comedy Short at 2018 Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, appearances at JFL42, Comedy Brawl, CBC Radio, NOW Magazine and The Colin Mochrie Improvisation Award. Banzo was enrolled in Humber College‘s Comedy Writing and Performance program when he caught McCullogh’s eye.

“I thought, Wow, this guy’s amazing,’ and I actually brought him in on a writing room I was doing for a couple of days,” series executive producer and director McCulloch recalls. “Then he told me he had a troupe. I saw them and I thought, ‘Wow.’ They were super unformed, but they had what they have on the show, a kind of elegance, warmth and just a natural sense of humour. And I was like, ‘Yeah, we should do a show.'”

That warmth shines through in Episode 1’s first minutes, while the quartet is chased down a Toronto street by transit guards. I wanted to learn more about them and see the characters they’d invented. I was immediately drawn in by their twisty take on boy bands and body shaming, sex-ed classes, and a quiz show hosted by Banzo (that one had me laughing and shaking my head in shame). But as effortless as the writing and performances seem on-screen, it’s been a massive learning curve for Tallboyz II Men to write for television.

“I remember just being a deer in headlights,” Abdi says. “The first couple of weeks I was just nodding and being like, ‘I hope no one notices that I am lost.’ It went from being the four of us writing together at our own pace and being very comfortable with each other to a room where all of a sudden the numbers doubled. We had eight people in the room and people who had 15 plus years of comedy experience.”

McCulloch says that, when the writing room started, the troupe had amassed perhaps a dozen sketches written mostly by improv. Six months later, they had 100. One, about a sleepwalker, is particularly memorable for Abdi because he was injured filming it.

“I was keeping my eyes as close to shut as possible, just enough to see where my feet were,” he says. “I could just see, like, maybe a foot in front of me. The take that made it in is one where it was the eighth time doing it. I really committed and put too much energy into the flip and then landed on my side and being like, ‘Aw, that hurt.’ Then I had to play it off and get up immediately and get out of the scene.

Tallboyz airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of CBC.


Link: Bruce McCulloch says new broadcaster being sought for second season of Young Drunk Punk

From Eric Volmers of the Calgary Herald:

Life after cancellation? Bruce McCulloch says new broadcaster being sought for second season of Calgary-shot Young Drunk Punk
The search is on for a new home for the second season of Young Drunk Punk, which is based on Kids in the Hall alumni Bruce McCulloch’s years as an underemployed punk-rock aficionado in Calgary during the early 1980s. Continue reading.


Interview: Spun Out’s Dave Foley angles for Orphan Black role

Orphan Black is a critical darling with die-hard fans who love every twist, turn and clone the writers throw onto the small screen. Why am I mentioning this in a story about Dave Foley and Season 2 of Spun Out? Because Foley is a major fan of OB … so much so he busted onto the set to meet its leading lady.

“I love Orphan Black. I think it’s fantastic,” Foley told TV, eh? during a set visit last year. “I’d love to be a guest star. I went over there and barged into their set to say hi to Tatiana Maslany. I hoped that if I stood around long enough that somebody would say, ‘Hey, you’d be pretty good. We already killed Frewer, we’ve got room for another old comedian.'”

The veteran member of The Kids in the Hall—who continue their reunion tour later this year—had plenty to say about the difficulties of making comedy for the small screen, upcoming guest star Jennifer Tilly (who’s been a friend of Foley’s since The Wrong Guy) and his love of Doctor Who.

How involved have you been in the writing on Spun Out in Season 2?
Dave Foley: I have been involved off and on as I’ve been needed as an extra hand. It’s part of what I’ve been doing for 30 years, so it’s a skill that I can bring to the show and help out whenever I can.

Jennifer Tilly is guest-starring in an episode as your ex-wife. What can you tell me about her character?
Jennifer plays an ex-wife that I’m still very fond of and she’s decided to start a rival PR company and I give her advice on how to do that. And she immediately turns around and poaches a huge client from DLPR. Dave has to go out and assert his dominance as a professional.

You’ve known Jennifer for a long time. You co-starred in The Wrong Guy in 1997.
It feels like only yesterday. I really like that movie and I was really proud of it. It was a lot of fun working with Jen on it and we’ve been friends ever since. People still come up to me and quote me lines from it. I know it was a bit of a cult movie with comedy writers in L.A. even before we made it because the script was travelling around town.

That was the first movie I ever saw Colm Feore in.
Really? His best work, really. He hadn’t done anything before and has gone back to doing nothing since then. [Laughs.]

Did you come to the table with any creative ideas for Season 2 of Spun Out?
No, God no. I let them do that. I don’t like to think too far ahead on character or anything like that. Give me some situations and some things to play with. Everyone on this show is so good, I don’t need to tell them anything. I’d rather sit back and listen.

Many people have said that making comedy is difficult. Where do you stand on that?
I don’t know if it’s more difficult. I think it’s just easier to see it when it’s bad. You really know when you’re watching bad comedy because you’re not laughing. When you’re watching bad drama, you can think ‘Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I’m not getting it.’ You have to reflect on whether it was bad or not. In comedy, you know it in your gut as soon as you hear it.

Do you watch a lot of TV?
I watch a lot of hockey and a lot of science programming and science fiction.

What science fiction do you watch?
I love Orphan Black. I think it’s fantastic. I’d love to be a guest star. I went over there and barged into their set to say hi to Tatiana Maslany. I hoped that if I stood around long enough that somebody would say, ‘Hey, you’d be pretty good. We already killed Frewer, we’ve got room for another old comedian.’

I love Doctor Who, The Strain.

What do you think of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor?
I love him. For me, he’s a bit of a return to the older show … Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee … where it wasn’t being sexy and quirky. I love the sexy and quirky Doctors and thought they brought a youthful energy, but the Doctor is supposed to be anything, so it’s good to have a Doctor that’s a little bit older. Maybe the next Doctor will be one of colour or a woman. That’s the magic of the character.

Spun Out airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.


Preview: Young Drunk Punk a sweet, funny postcard from the 80s

In 1980, the year Young Drunk Punk is set, I was nine. Old enough that—previewing Wednesday’s debut episode on City—I recalled the fashion (spiky hair, striped jackets, pornstaches), the music (Loverboy) and, most importantly, the small-town vibe.

I grew up in the smallish city of Brantford, Ont., a 30-minute drive from Hamilton and a whopping 60 minutes from Toronto. I lived far enough from those metropolis’ that visits were a big deal for me, a window to possible dreams and promises in my future. Certainly bigger opportunities—I thought as I got into my early teens—than I could ever have in Brantford.

So I totally related to Ian McKay (Tim Carlson, Flashpoint) and Archibald Shinky (Atticus Mitchell, Fargo), two kids just graduating from high school in 1980 Calgary and without a damned clue what to do next. Created by Kids in the Hall veteran Bruce McCulloch and inspired by his life (the sitcom was shot in and around the same Calgary townhouse complex he grew up in), Young Drunk Punk is certainly a wistful look back, but it certainly isn’t dated. The issues Ian and Shinky deal with in the first 30 minutes are the same every high school kid wrestles with: fitting in, kissing someone, distancing themselves from their parents and deciding who they are as individuals.

Adding to the laughs in Season 1 are Ian’s dad, Lloyd (McCulloch), who is the head of security at the complex, Ian’s mom Helen (Tracy Ryan, Nancy Drew) and his sister, Belinda (Allie MacDonald, Lost Girl). Belinda plays a large role in tonight’s bow, as Ian is planning to move into her place until she shows up at the family home with all of her belongings; she’s left her boyfriend. Ian and Shinky attend a party where they try to fit in, don’t, and get chased by local punks. The humour is there, but it doesn’t hit you over the head like most shows today. Instead, it’s subtle, heartwarming and family oriented. You get the idea that McCullogh is looking back fondly on his past rather than mocking it.

Sandwiched between The Middle and Modern Family on Wednesday nights, I would have rather seen it paired with Sunnyside for an hourlong block of Canadian comedies on City. That may eventually happen, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy Young Drunk Punk for what what it is, and cringe every time I see a piece of clothing I used to wear.

Young Drunk Punk airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on City.