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Interview: Kids In The Hall’s Mark McKinney on TV theme songs, Cheers, and pitching wooden sailboats to the masses

KIDS IN THE HALL - 2015 PRESS ART - Pictured: Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Dave Foley, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson - HANDOUT
 

Much has already been written about the generation-hopping influence on off-kilter senses of humor owed to the five professional Canadian silly men known collectively as Kids In The Hall, even long after the height of their TV show run from the late-’80s to the mid-’90s.

But what about their program’s theme song — “Having an Average Weekend,” by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet? It’s a very, very good theme song. Is there a more ironic open bass guitar riff in all of television, aside from the Seinfeld theme? Dubious.

Turns out Mark McKinney, along with his Kids cohort Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Scott Thompson, and Bruce McCulloch, declared “Having an Average Weekend” their official theme song with little discussion before they ever knew they would have a TV show, which they don’t anymore. But they do have a globally-touring live gig that arrives at the Wilbur Theatre on Wednesday evening.

 
 

Via a mildly staticy, mid-train ride phone call, McKinney reminisced on the unforgettable “bum-bah dum-bah dum-bahdahdahdahdahdahdaaaaaaa” that still opens and closes their performances to this day. Among other topics, he also touches upon why working on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was, shockingly, an incredible and crucial experience in his career.

Thing I wish I had thought to ask: How is it the dry, “normal” one of the group is also the one who plays Chicken Lady?

Barry Thompson: What do you remember about deciding on “Having an Average Weekend” for a theme song?

 
 

Mark McKinney: Um, just that it kind of always was. I don’t think there was ever a conscious decision or fight about it. We were just friends with Brian Connelly. The song just had that energy, and it became the one that stuck.

Wait, that was your theme song when you guys were a sketch troupe in Toronto? Before the show?

Way before the TV show, yeah. Brian Connelly is actually a very cool cartoonist. He did a ton of posters for the original Kids In The Hall shows.

What’s he up to these days?

 
 

I think he has a recording studio in Toronto. I know he toured with Bruce. He did a touring show called Young Drunk Punk, and Connelly was playing guitar and doing the intermission music the whole way through. That was last fall, I think?

How many times do you think you’ve heard that song?

Well, I know I’m going to listen to it at least 30 more times, because they play it twice during the show… Or, actually, that would be 60 more times. I’m not very good at math.


 
 

What are your favorite TV themes aside from that one?

Bewitched. 30 Rock. I love Mad Men — the sliding violin thing. I’m actually very into Cheers these days. I just started watching the series again from the very beginning.

Ever been to the real Cheers bar?

No. I should probably go. It’s in Boston, right? What’s it actually called?

 
 

Um, I forget, but you’ll be disappointed. It’s nothing like the one that used to be on TV.

Well, of course not. The show was in a studio. But I just love it. I didn’t realize how adventurous it was a the time.

Is being a ‘90s comedy troupe that still tours once every few years any different from being a ‘90s band that does the same?

No, I think they’re very similar. We are a band, but a band of comedy. I think being in a comedy troupe has a bit of an advantage over music. There are fewer comedy troupes that tour, as opposed to bands that tour.

 
 

When I saw you guys last year, Kevin sang a song about how Kids In The Hall will probably be around in some capacity until one of you dies — probably Dave. Couldn’t you just replace Dave with a younger version of him, like rock bands normally do?

Do they? I guess they do. The Who is still touring. Zeppelin never toured. Or, wait, did Zeppelin tour after they lost Bonham?

I’m not sure. [Edit: Looked it up. He’s right, they didn’t]

But, no, I don’t think we’d ever replace Dave. It’s too late.

You were also on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and you were great, but the show wasn’t so well received overall. What’s it like to be the best part of Aaron Sorkin’s biggest failure?

I had so much fun on that show. I can’t tell you. Being in a room while Aaron Sorkin wrote was like finishing school for writers. I had just started getting into writing this tragedy/comedy show called Slings and Arrows. So to be on Studio 60, with that cast, was extraordinary. But hit or miss, I had the best year. It would’ve been great to have a season two, but it was just such a novel experience.

 
 

What if the Kids In The Hall sold out to the man? What products would you endorse?

Wow, that we would all agree on? I don’t think we would ever agree on any. I would pitch old wooden sailboats.

Why old wooden sailboats?

I think they’re beautiful and I’m looking at them, as we pass through the countryside of the New England Coast.

Pitch Kids In The Hall live to your readers. What should people expect when they go to this thing?

Well, the genesis of this particular tour started about a year and a half ago when we decided, just for fun, to write the show like we used to write our show in the ‘80s. There’s some new material, old material, fan favorites. Although our bodies are a little bigger, it’s the same kind of show we did back in our club days.

 
 

KIDS IN THE HALL :: Wednesday, May 6 @ the Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St., Boston :: 8 p.m., all-ages, $57 :: Advance tickets :: Do617 event page