Published Jan 09, 2019Getting by with a little help from his friends, and his self-effacing charm, Kevin McDonald told us stories about the Kids in the Hall and sang us hilarious songs about his life and times in a spirited show he entitled, "A Kevin McDonald with an Evening!"
Old friend and Guelph-bred troubadour Alun Piggins eventually served as McDonald's guitar accompaniment. but he also launched the second, late show of the evening with a raw, dark acoustic original. He then surprised the audience by confirming a rumour: "Ladies and gentlemen," Piggins said, "Bruce McCulloch!"
McCulloch took the stage and did about ten minutes of riffing and material, to the joy of everyone in the room. He gently tweaked McDonald's earlier set, even suggesting a review of it as uneven had already run in NOW Magazine, which McCulloch also teased.
His run of jokes was well-structured, drawing from his recent one-man show and twitter feed (his Death of a Salesman bit is really excellent), and it was amazing to know we'd be seeing two Kids in the Hall at the Rivoli, where the troupe first galvanized in the 1980s.
The absolute king of manic humour, drawn from a damaged psyche he has confidently embraced as his true self, McDonald bounded out on stage and informed us of the evening's structure. He alluded to his excellent podcast, Kevin McDonald's Kevin McDonald Show, where he's been honing funny tales and songs, since relocating from Los Angeles to the showbiz-remote outpost of Winnipeg. If you've been following the show, McDonald's act here was familiar. He told six or seven such stories and sang us several silly numbers that had us all roaring.
Fellow Kid Scott Thompson was invoked a lot, as he and McDonald were roommates on at least a few occasions. As McDonald recalled Thompson getting in fights before a gay men's choir at the El Mocambo, or lambasting the rest of the troupe for secretly cutting one of his sketches from their TV show, or starting a "masturbation fire," it felt like Thompson was there. In fact, whenever a Kid tells a Scott Thompson story, which McDonald did a few times, he comes across as almost a mythical beast — some sort of legend that his friends can't quite believe actually exists.
But it's also a gift of McDonald's to observe and recognize the absurdity of such things, and then write a sketch or story about it. His fellow Kids often say he is naturally the funniest among them and that's likely true; his physicality, his facial features, the way his voice hits the most appropriately ridiculously high pitch to put a joke across, are all genuine gifts.
He is loose and way too hard on himself, but he's also totally in the moment (how he generally ignored a most annoying audience member in the front row who would not stop yelling nonsense at him all night was almost morally instructive). Kevin McDonald would never call himself a master but here, he was in fact, masterful.