I like to see people enjoy their food. The day I met Scott Thompson, he had just come from the gym and we met for lunch. He ordered tea and fish and chips and talked to me about his life and his career as a comedian. As I listened and watched a heavily-peppered, spade-sized piece of fish disappear down his throat, I realized that this guy is a loose cannon; a self-proclaimed loudmouth and contrarian.
Lucky for us, he’s got a voice and an influence.
Scott believes in equality for everyone and his opinions are sharp – he’s got a bone to pick with helicopter parents and people who stuff themselves with psychomeds, and he has no respect for people who don’t like bananas. Scott doesn’t pussyfoot around the issues that most people are afraid to face, let alone discuss, including the social inequality of men, a favourite topic of mine.
He wants to change the world as an artist, not an activist. And you know he’s alright because he’s from North Bay, Ontario, eh?
Now, as Scott says, it isn’t really possible to be famous in Canada, agreed, but this Canadian is better known than most of us. He spent six years with the iconic sketch comedy series, Kids in the Hall (KITH), featured regularly on HBO’s Larry Saunders Show, lent his voice to The Simpsons, appeared in many films and television shows, and currently has his fingers in several creative pies. Even for a Canadian, I’d call that pretty famous.
“I’ll always be a Kid-in-the-Hall.”
Scott is buoyant with a burning passion for his creative projects, but as he says, none of them pay. “I just want to be heard,” he says, “It keeps me sane. It’s an act of arrogance.”
He talked about the old stand-up days in Toronto and being paid a pittance.“One club used to pay me in meat and pot,” he recalled.
Old passions die hard – he’s slated to do a North American stand-up tour in the fall, and a western Canadian tour with fellow comedian and former Kid-in-the-Hall, Kevin McDonald, under the name, Two Kids, One Hall, combining stand-up and sketch comedy.
I admitted to him that I sometimes sit for hours watching KITH sketches on YouTube. He admitted the same thing. I found this particularly charming. Kids in the Hall is hilarious and wildly entertaining, and for me, points out the absurdity of people and society through characters and comedy. When Scott talked about the reaction of Toronto’s gay community to his fabulous gay character, Buddy Cole, I was shocked. Apparently the gay community didn’t recognize the satirical handling of gay stereotypes and they turned on him, leaving Scott feeling betrayed.
“I wanted to be a mermaid when I was five.”
Now he wants to tell stories of a polarized world at war with itself, laughing at the worst face of society. A book, a play, and a TV show are in the works, and Scott, a master of satire, is very excited to work on the second of a three-part graphic novel series called Hollow Planet, with illustrator, Kyle Morton. It’s the story of KITH character, Danny Husk, the straight, middle-aged, moustached corporate employee on an epic comic journey to the centre of the earth where he’s a common sex slave in the savage fantasy world of Cargol, a place of half nudes and a telepathic mammoth – it’s Scott’s gay Game of Thrones. Oh, and it’s dirty, he assures me.
In 2011, his short film, The Immigrant, won at the Los Angeles Short Film festival, and will open the Manhattan Short Film festival later this year. It’s an autobiographical story about a Canadian comedian who once had a TV show but is now off the map. He has no money and no papers, and he has to cross the Mexican border.
“The film is about life, liberty, the pursuit of stardom, and how Canada can’t support it!”
He’s made himself available on demand at scottfree.podcast.com, and he also does the online Fruit Blog, where he and a group of cast-offs, including former KITH writer, Paul Bellini, video blog around a light narrative that has them learning about and eating fruit.
Scott’s favourite fruit is mango – very sensual. “I like fruit that mimics genitalia,” he says.
By the end of the meal, Scott talked about his cancer. He’s beaten the stomach cancer soundly by now but the experience was harrowing. During the six months of writing and shooting the 2010 CBC KITH series, Death Comes to Town, Scott was in chemotherapy, his hair fell out, and he was tired and nauseous. All of this topped off by an unrelated calf muscle injury. Somehow he remained focused, but then came the radiation. This stage of treatment messed up his hormones to the point that he began to grow breasts. He was horrified. Eventually the breasts were surgically removed.
Now that the estrogen has subsided, he’s experiencing a powerful surge of testosterone that’s helping him rebuild his body and that’s not all it’s doing, if you know what I’m saying. Oh, don’t be shocked. In the immortal words of Buddy Cole,“My goal is not to shock and horrify, but to tell the truth. And if that truth shocks and horrifies, well …maybe you should get out more.”