Scott Thompson: Three Dimensional Comedy

May 18, 2018


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


2018 Moon­tow­er Com­e­dy Series

After a long, excit­ing, dar­ing, incom­pa­ra­ble week­end expe­ri­enc­ing the 2018 Moon­tow­er Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val, you’d cer­tain­ly be excused if you found your­self a lit­tle drained and down in the dumps that it won’t come again for anoth­er year. And when life gets you down, remem­ber, GLeeMONEX gets you up and going, and there were only a cou­ple of flip­per babies”!

If the ground- (and law-)breaking anti­de­pres­sant GLeeMONEX means any­thing to you, then you must know the movie Brain Can­dy. And if you know Brain Can­dy, you know its cre­ators: the bril­liant com­e­dy troupe The Kids in the Hall (KITH). Even if you some­how aren’t famil­iar with either, there’s still an excel­lent chance you know this week’s guest: KITH star, and all around fab­u­lous, Scott Thomp­son. If for some inex­plic­a­ble rea­son you haven’t expe­ri­enced The Kids in the Hall, get thee to the inter­nets now and bone up, pron­to. Either way, becom­ing a key mem­ber in KITH was just the begin­ning of a path that would take Thomp­son from an inar­guably dark place in his life, to the bright lights of stages and count­less movies and TV shows like The Lar­ry Sanders Show, Reno 911, and even Star Trek: Voy­ager.

A native Cana­di­an, Thomp­son had ear­ly aspi­ra­tions of per­form­ing, but com­e­dy wasn’t in his sights at the begin­ning. His first mem­o­ries of tak­ing the stage took shape as a dream of being a bal­let dancer. Alas, he fig­ured out soon it wasn’t to be, but there was one thing he knew for sure. My num­ber one ambi­tion was to have an excit­ing life,” says Thompson. 

My num­ber one ambi­tion was to have an excit­ing life.”Scott Thomp­son

Armed with that atti­tude, he took off after high school to spend a year in the Philip­pines, return­ing to pur­sue a uni­ver­si­ty course in the­atre. It was an ambi­tion he had to con­tin­ue to hold close to his chest; it wasn’t yet the time to come out to the world, in either his career choice or his lifestyle. As his con­fi­dence in form grew, this dual­i­ty of the truth of per­for­mance paired with secre­cy posed a daunt­ing chal­lenge: Thomp­son believes talk­ing about your life is the best kind of com­e­dy, and it was the one thing he sim­ply could not do. Yet.

Angry, feel­ing iso­lat­ed, and fac­ing the sep­a­ra­tion between his art and his life, Thomp­son had one of those crit­i­cal slid­ing door moments when he accom­pa­nied a friend to see a The Kids in the Hall show. He was imme­di­ate­ly smit­ten, as so many of us were, at the dynam­ic mag­ic the team brought to the stage. Instant­ly, he knew that he had to become a part of the team, and true to his per­sis­tent, delib­er­a­tive nature, he devised a sim­ple, yet very effec­tive strat­e­gy to get their atten­tion. I won’t spoil it here; you’ll want to hear him tell it in the inter­view, but it involved donuts, and not in the way you’re think­ing. (Or your sec­ond guess either.) What mat­ters is that it worked, and he soon joined and start­ed ply­ing what was to become his life­long trade. 

Thompson’s time with KITH was a prov­ing ground, filled with the ambiance and ambi­tion he yearned for, but an enor­mous pro­fes­sion­al chal­lenge all the same. I was very much a show pony. I didn’t know how to lis­ten. I didn’t know how to write. I didn’t know how to sub­vert myself into the group”, says Thomp­son. Observ­ing, learn­ing, adapt­ing; these were traits that didn’t come eas­i­ly to a man who for so long had ensured that he kept a death grip on con­trol. Nev­er­the­less, time indeed loos­ened the grip, and Thomp­son, iron­i­cal­ly, became more and more the self he had so long been afraid to cul­ti­vate. It was also with KITH that he birthed the lounge lizard char­ac­ter Bud­dy Cole, who would lat­er become the epony­mous voice of his Moon­tow­er Fes­ti­val (and nation­al­ly tour­ing) show, Après Le Déluge: The Bud­dy Cole Mono­logues.

After KITH came to an end, as all good things must, Thomp­son found him­self – as did all of the troupe – look­ing for a way to take the next step in life, estab­lish him­self in his own brand, find his own style of per­for­mance, all to be done his way. (No one ever real­ly gives up con­trol, of course.) When the oppor­tu­ni­ty to join The Lar­ry Sanders Show arose, he jumped at the chance…with some con­di­tions of course. His char­ac­ter Bri­an – assis­tant to Hank Kings­ley (Jef­frey Tam­bour) – had to be Open­ly Cana­di­an”, and could play as gay, but not the flam­boy­ant car­i­ca­ture that was becom­ing seem­ing­ly de rigueur as audi­ences had begun to accept and embrace what they should have all along: the right of any per­son to their own identity. 

As he played and cre­at­ed more and more fic­tion­al roles, Thomp­son con­tin­ued to uncov­er more about the very real truth at his core. He was firm­ly estab­lished in com­e­dy (and says that if he were to try to make his start today, stand-up is like­ly where he would have embarked), but knew he had much more to explore, more char­ac­ters to bring to life, more var­ied per­for­mances to chal­lenge him­self with. When it comes down to it, Thomp­son, for all of the ear­ly rough and tum­ble anger that accom­pa­nied him for so long, now knows that his work, and his life, are about love, expressed both inward and out­ward. When you’re per­form­ing, it’s an act of love for people…for the audience…the stand-in for human­i­ty,” Thomp­son muses.

Through Bud­dy Cole, Thomp­son emotes a char­ac­ter who under­stands that, but weaves it through a nar­ra­tive that seems any­thing but ten­der. Cole lives to push the bound­aries of top­ics, his sto­ries drawn from the view­point of some­one with very strong opin­ions, and seem­ing­ly zero encum­brance with appeas­ing any­one who sees things dif­fer­ent­ly. It’s a del­i­cate­ly orches­trat­ed bal­ance, and indeed Thomp­son views it as the most beau­ti­ful dance I’ve ever chore­o­graphed.” Cole is Thomp­son, and Thomp­son is Cole, a mono­logue deliv­ered by two halves of a man that is now, more than ever, whole.

[Après Le Déluge] is the most beau­ti­ful dance I’ve ever chore­o­graphed.“Scott Thomp­son

With Après Le Déluge, Thomp­son finds him­self anoth­er step clos­er to real­iz­ing his next dream: his own TV show. Whether a solo gig based on Bud­dy Cole (he’s hop­ing to tape a spe­cial this sum­mer), or an ensem­ble cast, seems imma­te­r­i­al; he just wants to cre­ate and share with peo­ple. Or, as he read­i­ly admits, if The Kids in the Hall got back togeth­er, he’d bolt for the oppor­tu­ni­ty in a hot sec­ond. If I was hold­ing a new­born baby, I’d drop it on its head,” Thomp­son says. Or, when it comes down to it, he’s ready to to try just about any­thing; com­fort­able in his own skin, con­fi­dent in his abil­i­ties, the jour­ney is now the goal. 

And he’s lov­ing it. 

— — — —

Keep up with with Scott Thomp­son on Twit­ter at @scottthompson_, and his cur­rent alter-ego (and some­times inner voice) Bud­dy Cole at @mrbuddycole.

Scott Thompson