Kids in the Hall Comedians to Receive Dallas VideoFest's Ernie Kovacs Award

Comedians Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley are founding members of the sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall.EXPAND
Comedians Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley are founding members of the sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall.
Courtesy of Dallas Videofest
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If you're a fan of Canada, sketch comedy or both, then you'll be happy to learn who will receive the Ernie Kovacs Award at this year's Dallas VideoFest.

Comedians Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley, two of the five members of the renowned stage and TV comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall, will receive the television achievement award named after the surrealist and visionary TV comedian.

McDonald and Foley will be at the VideoFest to receive the award Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson. The evening will feature a screening of The Kids in the Hall's 1996 movie Brain Candy, followed by a Q&A with Foley and McDonald.

Foley and McDonald met while taking classes at the Second City comedy theater in Toronto and joined forces with Bruce McCullough, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson to form The Kids in the Hall in the mid-'80s. The group performed regular improv and sketch shows at The Rivoli in Toronto, where it was discovered by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.

Michaels helped the group develop and produce the TV sketch series The Kids in the Hall, which ran from 1988-94 on the CBC in Canada and HBO in the U.S., and later on Comedy Central, where it developed a massive fan following. The troupe followed its TV show with Brain Candy, a film about an experimental antidepressant that's released before being properly tested.

Foley was later cast as the lead in the NBC sitcom NewsRadio for five seasons. McDonald provided voices for several memorable cartoon characters on shows such as Invader ZIM and the Disney movie and animated series Lilo & Stitch. The Kids in the Hall have re-formed several times since their breakup to perform live comedy tours. They shot a feature-length comedy mini series, Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town, for the CBC in 2010.

Bart Weiss, the director of the Dallas VideoFest, says the television work of Foley and McDonald falls in line with Kovacs' visionary work, which played with the TV medium in new and exciting ways.

"Looking back at the comedy of The Kids and their other work afterward, you can see that they, like Kovacs, saw what video and television could be and took us to that new place,” Weiss says.

A statement from McDonald says he's honored to receive an award named for one of his comedic idols.

“Kovacs was doing ’70s anti-comedy in the ’50s and his sense of absurdism would have been at home in a Monty Python’s Flying Circus episode," McDonald says. "When Dave Foley and I are in Dallas on October 14, I will pretend he is here with us, celebrating his career, because that's what this is — a celebration of Ernie Kovacs. And he deserves a lot of them."

Foley says Kovacs was a huge influence on his comedy and television work because of the way Kovacs pushed boundaries in both mediums.

“One of the things that impressed me deeply about Ernie Kovacs was that television was a brand-new medium in the '50s, and he was subverting its conventions even as those conventions were being formed,” Foley says. “Ernie was way ahead of his time.”

The Kovacs award has been a part of the annual VideoFest since 1997 and recognizes the achievements of television pioneers who dedicated their careers to finding innovative ways to entertain and educate with the medium of television. Past recipients of this honor include Mystery Science Theater 3000 star and creator Joel Hodgson, actor and writer Harry Shearer, Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens, Saturday Night Live writer and performer Robert Smigel, and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In creator George Schlatter.

Ernie Kovacs award presentation and Q&A, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, Alamo Drafthouse, 100 S. Central Expressway, Richardson. Tickets are $10 to $50 at prekindle.com.

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