Scott Thompson is ready for war — and he’s bringing Buddy Cole to do his dirty work.
Thompson first entered the zeitgeist in his Canadian sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall’s legendary TV series for the CBC. It’s played in syndication ever since, and in 2022, the Kids revived the show with the help, and hindrance, of Amazon.
The revival spawned new favorites like Dave Foley’s “Doomsday DJ” who plays “Brand New Key” by Melanie on repeat. Mark McKinney brought back the hits with his Headcrusher character, and Thompson resurrected his gay folk hero Buddy Cole.
Charles Budderick (Buddy) Cole is a Canadian “butch queen,” inspired by one of Thompson’s exes. He owns a gay bar, Buddy’s, where he doles out insight about the world with an acid tongue. Buddy navigates the world by making fun of everyone — starting first with himself and his community.
Buddy was supposed to have a bigger role in The Kids in the Hall revival, but Amazon didn’t like his take on the LGBTQI+ community. So Thompson used the snub as fodder and turned his frustration (and unused material) into a new show for Buddy. He’s bringing his show “King” to New York this weekend.
For Thompson, it’s a show his entire life prepared him to write.
“Gay men of my generation were born into struggle. We came out of the closet and into the war of AIDS,” Thompson tells Brooklyn Magazine. “I’ll never really be able to shake it. I’ll always be ready for war.”
He says performing these censored Buddy Cole monologues is a gratifying experience and that audience response, so far, has been enthusiastic. You can see Buddy in all of his uncensored glory(hole) for yourself at City Winery on February 9. If you miss out, you’ll have to wait for the documentary about Buddy Cole, executive produced by fellow Kid cast member Bruce McCulloch and writer Paul Bellini.
Scott Thompson sat down with Brooklyn Magazine to dish about his experience with Amazon’s censorship and how he turned the experience into inspiration for “King.” He also reveals if The Kids in the Hall reboot will receive a second season, and why at 64, he’s still thankful to struggle.
This interview has been lightly edited for concision and flow.
How is your documentary about Buddy coming along?
It’s just begun. Jessamine Manchester initiated it, and she’s a young queer woman who asked, “Why don’t people know who Buddy Cole is?” I always wonder the same thing. I have a feeling that they’re going to know him soon.
Is a second season of The Kids in the Hall’s Amazon show ever going to happen?
Oh, no, that’s not going to happen. They made it very clear that wasn’t going to happen. They kept us waiting for quite a while, but they made it very clear it’s not going to happen and that’s fine. I’m doing this new Buddy Cole show because what do I have to lose? Nothing. Once you decide that losing is winning, how can you lose? You learn more when you lose. So what’s so scary? Nothing. It’s vindicating for me because it was such a struggle to make the Amazon series with The Kids in the Hall. I mean, I’m very proud of it and what I did with it. Luckily, we’re all prolific, because it was a very difficult battle, particularly with Amazon’s censorship.
Amazon censored the show?
What The Kids in the Hall discovered with Amazon — well, I’m not going to speak for the other four guys — was that the censorship 100 percent came from the left. Most culture is created by the left and censorship today comes from the far left, not the far right, because the far right has no power culturally.
What did Amazon censor?
It was all about identity politics. It’s not about nudity or perverse sex or anything. It’s not about those things anymore. It’s not even about bad words. It’s about identity politics and it was very difficult to weigh in on those topics. It’s very sad because those are the topics that are ripping apart our society, and it’s not healthy when comedians aren’t allowed to talk about those things. I don’t think liberals want to look at that. I think they’re embarrassed. And they should be. We should be.
Buddy had one storyline about the world’s last glory hole in the Amazon season. Was that the compromise?
That’s the only one that was accepted. And so that’s my point — that’s a dirty piece and you have full-frontal male nudity in that. It’s dirty, but that wasn’t censored the same way as the show I’m performing in New York was.
How is it possible anyone thinks Buddy is a controversial character in 2024?
You mean why is it in 2024 that Buddy is more dangerous than ever? That’s a very good question. One of the reasons is that in the last 30 years, the community that Buddy is a member of has now moved from being outsiders to insiders, and they are now basically in charge of culture in a lot of ways. And yet Buddy hasn’t budged. Buddy is still a punk. He’s still a contrarian. He’s someone who doesn’t really trust power, and he always knows that no matter who has the reins of power, they will inevitably abuse it. That’s why I think he’s still dangerous.
Will people ever have a chance to see the material that Amazon censored? Will the Kids take it on tour?
I hope so. Last month, the Kids did a night in San Francisco at Sketchfest where we performed a bunch of banned material. It was a whole night of basically The Kids in the Hall and how we censor each other to how the world censors us. Everything went over fantastically, and a lot of the material that we were not allowed to do with Amazon killed in front of a live crowd. It’s very vindicating.
We love to tour, it’s just very difficult with people’s schedules, et cetera. One of the discussions was doing an animated sketch series. You would probably be able to get away with a lot more the way that “South Park” does. I feel things are really shifting and that’s a good time to be doing a comedy tour when the winds are shifting.
You’ve said you feared turning into Buddy Cole when you created him.
I was worried for so many cosmetic reasons. Buddy Cole in many ways is the archetype of the bitter old queen, but he’s also the bitchy queen, and he’s very smart. In some ways, this show is like a journey of Buddy being … I wouldn’t say dignified, no, but it’s Buddy’s quest to be gracious. I’d like to be able to look at things clearly without emotion, but I have a difficult time doing that, and yet Buddy doesn’t. I think the reason Buddy doesn’t is because he’s so selfish, in a way, and that allows him to be so wicked and cutting in every direction. He’s a way for me to satirize society.
Today do you care if people think you and Buddy Cole are one and the same?
It’s weird because I fought my whole career to be seen as myself. I really would not have put this show together if my experience with Amazon hadn’t been so brutal. I wouldn’t have been forced to. I accepted that have to do it as Buddy because I don’t think that I have completely divorced my anger from the performance.
And in an odd way, I’m grateful. I’m almost grateful for the struggle because it made me go, “I don’t need this kind of media for what I want to do. I don’t need the giant to be behind me.” I feel kind of reborn. There are about 10 to 12 monologues and there is a tiny narrative. I think for a lot of people it’s kind of shocking. They go, “He can’t mean that,” but I think Buddy does mean it. It’s not like a “Sixth Sense” twist, but I think at the end people are like, “Wow, that’s wild.” And now you’re wondering, what is he talking about?
You’re giving us a cliffhanger so we buy tickets to your show, and people should, because the only other entertainers with a show like yours are drag queens like Lady Bunny and Bianca Del Rio.
100 percent! They’re comedians. Oh my god, Lady Buddy is the greatest and she really does not let anybody own her, and Buddy’s very much the same way. Like, you don’t own me. You can’t tell me what to think. It’s interesting because you’re kind of saying that Buddy’s my drag persona. I’ve thought about that, and I do think about why I can’t just go up as myself and say all these crazy things. Buddy gives two kinds of monologues. There’s the stories and then there’s the essays, and they usually combine. Sometimes they’re almost completely separate, but even the stories have some point of view.
When I interviewed you last, you said “fear of gay male sexuality has actually been throughout society our entire lives.” Do you think that’s a reason why Buddy was censored by Amazon?
It’s very threatening and it’s threatening in a different way. It’s not threatening in the way female sexuality is or lesbian sexuality. It’s threatening and that’s understandable. I don’t know if it will ever truly change. We think it’s changed, but it hasn’t really. Can you name any of those drag queen’s real names? Would you recognize any of them out of drag on the street? So what does that tell you? I didn’t think I had to do Buddy again, but it turns out I did, and that’s sad. And yet, it’s no struggle to do him. It’s a joy because I embrace that part of me that I was ashamed of, the feminine side of me. I’ve made peace with Buddy.
I think you should record this show and then sell it on Amazon as the ultimate fuck you.
Exactly, you know my plan!
The post Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson Takes on Amazon with new show ‘King’ appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.