The Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson has recently brought back his beloved Buddy Cole character in a new one-man show Après le Déluge – The Buddy Cole Monologues, an outspoken update on the martini-sipping lounge lizard and his fearless, scandalous observations. According to the comedian, in an era where everyone is outraged, Buddy Cole is just the (gay) man to clear the air, delve into the current state of identity politics and settle what Thompson calls the “war on imagination.”
In His Words
I’ve been around long enough that I can see the arc of history. The Kids in the Hall rode our highest wave in the late eighties and the early nineties. It was a time of enormous changes: The fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square protests, AIDS – things were roiling society. Then political correctness descended, with language police and all that. The Kids in the Hall were always in trouble. Then the political correctness went away. But now it’s back. And mostly it’s coming from the left, which I think is a betrayal. The liberals were the bedrock of free speech. Now it’s turned on itself.
I think all this is one of the reasons I decided to bring back Buddy Cole, for my new stage show Après le Déluge – The Buddy Cole Monologues. Buddy doesn’t care what people think of him. I’d been writing things that I knew would be better for him to tackle than me. This is his time. In a world where it’s all about who’s been the most victimized, Buddy is unimpeachable. A gay man, my age? You can’t really touch him.
Or me. You can throw anything at me and I can say, “I’ve seen that. I’ve suffered from that.” So, I kind of win. It’s a superpower, to be up on stage and to say, “I’m a war vet with one leg.” Because you’re going to listen to the war vet. All the thin-skinned social justice warriors, they have to listen to me.
One of my monologues is on toxic femininity. Everything now is about toxic masculinity, but I like to be ahead of the curve. I think the world hasn’t quite realized that a lot of feminism has curdled into hatred of men. I do see a war on masculinity and a war on males. Straight white males especially are no longer allowed to say anything in comedy.
I have a great ability to detect bullies. And I’m not afraid of calling them out, regardless of who they are. They can be a man, a woman, gay, straight, black, white, thin, fat – everybody is capable of it. Everybody screws up power. Everybody abuses it. So, when I see something curdle, like feminism, I cannot not talk about it.
It’s almost my sacred role. My job is to explain, in some ways, the male camp to the female camp and vice versa. I think that’s the role of queer people throughout history, to stop the male camp and the female camp from going to war. Certainly, men do things that need to be called out. But this idea that one sex is bad, that’s just bigotry. I really want to live in a place beyond identity politics. In some ways, I feel like I’m one of the architects of it. But now people have built a building, and I don’t want to live in it any more.
This idea that people can’t understand people outside of their gender or their race, I absolutely reject it. I understand identity politics, but how did it morph into this? For a comedian, it’s a war on imagination. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a show where I play characters that aren’t my race or aren’t my gender, and just say, ‘Look, I can be a Nigerian guy, I can be a Filipino woman, I can be a womanizer.' Why not? Isn’t that where we want to go?
I would love to do something with the Kids in the Hall. I want to act, and the Kids in the Hall allows me to do the kind of acting I like. I can be very far away from myself. The further away, the happier I am. It’s not that I hate myself, it’s just that I want the chance to inhabit a character people would think I couldn’t understand. Of course, that goes against our prevailing ethos of today, that you can’t understand that other person. But I’m like, ‘Yeah, I can. You’re the one who can’t understand. That may be your issue, but that’s not me.’
I guess I would love to just get into some hot water with the Kids in the Hall. It’s one thing to get into hot water on your own. But with your brothers, it’s a lot more fun.
On Oct. 29, at Toronto’s Streetcar Crowsnest, Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch speak with Paul Myers, author of The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy. Tickets at crowstheatre.com