Bars of the Mission: Beauty Bar & Delirium

Beauty Bar, San Francisco originally uploaded by charlotte.wright

I’ve noticed the droves of young females who spend their nights at Beauty Bar. It’s mainly young undergrads who’ve recently migrated from Southern California to a three-bed share in the Tenderloin. Their version of the Mission is meeting friends at Puerto Allegre for uninteresting margaritas and enchiladas, then shaking their shoulders with some date-rape shirt to some sub-par DJ at Beauty Bar. A few months go by, and they’re standing in the cocaine line at Delirium wondering if the douchebag in the corner with the purple kerchief sitting pretty on his scruffy, smelly neck is checking out her American Apparel sangria-colored tights. Do these tourists make the Mission, or does the Mission make the tourist?

Kid in the Hall Dave Foley on Comedy Festivals, Reunion Tours, Canada, and Young Asian Girls Growing up in Prostitution

Last week, the Bay Area print edition of The Onion ran my interview with Kid in the Hall Dave Foley, in advance of the troupe’s whirlwind weekend at Sketchfest. The Onion doesn’t make local content available online, so here it is, as published.

The Kids In The Hall
The Kids In The Hall were to the first half of the ’90s what Mr. Show was to the second half and Flight Of The Conchords are to today: an off-kilter sketch-comedy troupe with a cable show loved by teens, college students, and discerning thirtysomethings. Since the TV show came to an end more than a decade ago, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson have ventured into feature films, sitcoms, and reality shows, and they still occasionally get back together to perform live for their legions of fans. The A.V. Club spoke with Foley about the old times, the new times, and why not everyone in Canada is allowed to be funny.
The A.V. Club: Do you like comedy festivals?
Dave Foley: I usually enjoy going to them because I get to run into old friends that maybe I haven’t seen in years, people I’ve met doing comedy. It’s like going to a high-school reunion or a convention: You get to hang out and see what everybody’s up to. And it’s always nice to get surprised by somebody new.
AVC: Does the festival atmosphere serve the art?

DF: I know it serves the desire of comedians to get drunk together fairly effectively. It really is just that coming together of people that you run into and get to know. Then maybe you don’t see them for a year or two or more, and then you just pick up again and see what kind of comedy they’re doing. There’s this cross-pollination.
AVC: You guys reunited for the first time in 2000. Are reunions fun?

DF: The 2000 one was truly a reunion because we hadn’t done anything in five years, and we weren’t talking for a long time. Since then, when we get back together, we kind of feel like being a Kid In The Hall is an ongoing part of our lives, whereas in 2000 we weren’t sure if it would be. Now we all really enjoy it. I think we like being together because we don’t have to be nice to each other at all. We can be just as mean to each other as we want to be, and usually all that happens is we make each other laugh.

AVC: Are there still moments when it feels as vital as it did back in the day?

DF: That, disturbingly, hasn’t changed much at all. We still like to surprise each other. We still make each other laugh really hard. It still feels like the same experience, except that now we’re writing as middle-aged men instead of 20-year-old kids. I was always worried we’d lapse into doing “Kids In The Hall-style comedy,” as opposed to just doing comedy, but it doesn’t feel like we’re trying to echo stuff that we’ve done in the past.

AVC: Have years in Hollywood changed the dynamic at all?

DF: It’s weird. We’ve really benefited from the fact that we’ve never been really successful. Even though we’re paunchy, gray-haired men, we can, in our minds, feel like we’re still young punks doing comedy that is still sort of outside the mainstream, which is a nice delusion to be able to have in your later years. We definitely have more “authority” now than we used to, but happily we’re not too aware of it. We still feel like we’ve got to prove ourselves all the time.

AVC: But you do accept that you’re something of an authority.

DF: I think the preferred term is “legend”? [Laughs.]

AVC: Right. So how do the young punks treat you guys?

DF: People treat us with an uncomfortable amount of respect. To me, it still feels odd to be receiving the kind of respect that I remember giving to the comedians I looked up to. It’s something you’re grateful for, but I don’t know if you ever really get used to being respected.

AVC: If there had been web-based viral video 20 years ago, how would your troupe’s history be different?

DF: There would have been less emphasis on live performing. I’m glad we learned that skill and had that fun of being in a nightclub and having that real connection with the audience. If you’re just putting comedy sketches up on YouTube and then you get a development deal, I don’t know if you have that same connection to the people you’re performing for. For us, the closest thing to YouTube was a college radio show. I’ve still got the tapes somewhere.

AVC: Any plans to release that stuff?

DF: Not any plans. I think we’d like to.

AVC: Why are Canadians such great comedians?

DF: Actually, we’re good at comedy on TV, but if you look at Canadian feature films, they’re not funny. Canadian feature films are all like Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg–not a lot of laughs. It’s hard to get funding for a funny film because it doesn’t seem culturally relevant. The film industry is mostly government-funded, so you have to write this sensitive story of a young Asian girl growing up in prostitution.

AVC: Think you’ve got something like that in you?

DF: You know what? I think I’m too old to play a young Asian girl now.

AVC: No, as a writer!

DF: Oh that–oh definitely, yeah.

AVC: The night before your performance, Sketchfest is also hosting a Kids In The Hall tribute. Have you done that before?

DF: No, not really. No one’s paid tribute to us yet. My hope is that we’re all, you know, funny. I expect the other guys to say things that I will laugh at. We won’t be taking it all that seriously. Hopefully we’ll just have some fun.

AVC: Beyond the festival, what’s next for The Kids In The Hall?

DF: We’re planning on going on tour this spring. Dates are starting to be booked now. We’re gonna go out for maybe a couple months. The bulk of the show will be new material, as it will be in San Francisco. This past year is the first time we’ve gone out with new material since the TV show. I know we’re all happy with it. The quality of the material is comparable to any of the stuff we’ve done. –Allan Hough

The Kids In The Hall tribute takes place Jan. 26 at the Palace Of Fine Arts Theatre and their closing-night performance is Jan. 27 at the Palace Of Fine Arts Theatre.

The closing-night performance was loosey goosey and great. Time traveling Dave is an image I will never forget. Let me know if you want more of a rundown on my thoughts on the performance. I missed the tribute, but here’s a great video excerpt, in which they explain how Scott Thompson killed Kurt Cobain:
Link to my Onion interview with John McCrea of Cake.
Link to all our posts involving web-based video, YouTube or otherwise.

photo by t-dawg

Remembering The Fell Street Off-Ramp

It’s been five years since the city knocked down the Fell Street Off-Ramp. The Octavia corridor is all vibrant and everything, and Market Street is prettier or whatever. But I still recall when, as a teenager in Sacramento, the only thing to do on the weekend was head to SF for 1.) an Amoeba run, and, often 2.) show at Bottom of the Hill. This translated to a fair amount of time on the Fell Street Off-Ramp. As soon as it broke from the freeway proper, it began snaking past buildings, tearing around corners, flying high over Market, thru the treetops, within *inches* of the First Baptist Church’s big dome. And then it set you down gently, kitty corner from Il Borgo. It made a Volvo station wagon feel like the Batwing.

Anyway, it was on one such trip that we really discovered the Mission for the first time. After Amoeba, we cruised up Stanyan to 17th Street, came down that great big hill into the Castro, and cruised through the Mission en route to a Fucking Champs show I think. Looking out the window up and down Dolores and then Valencia and then Mission was like finding a hidden prehistoric valley. We found an apartment here as soon as we could.

Property Owner Bummed Out By Discarded Toddler Vehicles Takes Matters Into Own Hands

I just think it’s refreshing to see a totally straightforward note like this. These days, every note you see is either really clever or really funny because it’s so passive aggressive. This is neither, and I like it. Found on Mission Street just south of Chavez, taped to this cute pile of trash:


Jojoblog Recruits Mission Mission’s Allan

jonathan richman @ the makeout room, originally uploaded by k4rl.

Jojoblog administrator RB loved my Volvo movie, asked me to join the team, I said hells yeah, and they gave me full admin power without batting an eye. In my mind, Jonathan Richman goes hand in hand with the Mission, thanks to dozens of Make-Out Room shows (see photo), and of course the Matt Gonzalez campaign. So I’m thrilled to be contributing to the foremost Jonathan fan resource on the web.

Driving My Volvo To Its Demise

Here’s our beloved sedan’s last ride. The trip starts in the Mission, and the video features music by local artist and Mission District proponent Jonathan Richman. For more Jonathan, peep this imeem post for a gem of a Hedwig cover.