One-fifth of the late, great sketch comedy troupe Kids in the Hall, Dave Foley has gone full circle, returning to the unpredictable world of improv playing judge and jury on NBC's Thank God You're Here (Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET), an amusing comedy-competition series in which performers act in scenes without benefit of a script.
TV Guide: What qualifies you for this?
Dave Foley: I think obviously being the wisest of all comedians is my main qualification. Really — if I'm to be honest with you — next to nothing. I have no qualifications for this job or, for that matter, any of the jobs I've ever had.
TV Guide: How does it feel wielding so much power over your comic colleagues?
Foley: [Laughs] It's odd. It never occurred to me that people would actually want to win. I just assumed that people would see that it was me choosing and realize the utter unimportance of it. Uh, what do I care, but I actually do wind up feeling torn at times. The competitive side of the show is really just there for fun. The idea is really to give people a place to perform and be funny and have a good time. You know, I'm definitely no Simon Cowell.
TV Guide: Do you enjoy seeing these people squirm in the skits? Foley: I enjoy seeing them succeed — that's what I really enjoy. And I don't say that just to be tediously positive — I really enjoy it when they're making me laugh. To me it's the most fun when, even if things aren't going well, people are at least still having a good time. Anyone — no matter how good you are at it, no matter what a good improviser you are, or how funny you are as a person — it's really easy to bomb. It's really easy to go out there and just not connect. You open your mouth and nothing funny comes out and you really have no way of controlling it — it's just completely out of your hands once the scene starts. That's just the nature of improv. It's terrible to watch somebody squirming because you do feel like your soul is being crushed in your body.
TV Guide: Luckily you have the buzzer and you can prevent that.
Foley: If not prevent it, I can shorten it. I can relieve the suffering. I can euthanize.
TV Guide: Do you find yourself longing to participate on stage?
Foley: No. [Laughs] Not at all. My seat is much more comfortable. It's nerve-racking — I would definitely be very, very nervous doing it. As most of the people who've come on the show have said, they get this real adrenaline rush right before doing the scenes. I really appreciate how scary it is. It takes courage to go out and do those scenes.
TV Guide: Recently, you've guest-starred on Scrubs, Campus Ladies, The New Adventures of Old Christine. Is there a show you're just dying to get a part on?
Foley: Yeah, although they're not really comedies: I'd love to be on Heroes, The Shield, Nip/Tuck — these are the shows I'm really enjoying. Lost and The Office would be a lot of fun, too. I miss doing NewsRadio, so it's fun to get back in that environment again.
TV Guide: Would you like to do another sitcom full-time?
Foley: Oh, sure, I'd love to. It's a great lifestyle for a performer, and it's a really, really fun day job to put a show on every week. It's a really good time, especially the situation that I had on NewsRadio. Working with such an amazing cast, every day you're eager to get to work.
TV Guide: Do you still see the Kids in the Hall?
Foley: I do. In fact, we're going to be getting together to talk about maybe putting together a show. We met a little while ago and wrote a whole new show in three days. We just did it in a little theater in town, and [we performed] it the way we used to do it before we had a TV show, when we met for three days, wrote 90 minutes of material, and then performed it that weekend. We're going to try to do that again. It was fun for us to see if we could still pull it off.
TV Guide: How do you think it went?
Foley: It turned out well. The material was really good. It was all brand-new material. We didn't even use any old characters. It was fun.
TV Guide: Do you have a favorite Kids in the Hall character or skit?
Foley: Um, not really. There's a sketch Kevin [McDonald] and I do called "Citizen Kane" that I have a real fondness for. It's about a guy who can't remember the name of the movie Citizen Kane and no matter how many times he's told it's Citizen Kane, he won't accept it. I like that sketch, I like the way it's built.
TV Guide: Is Celebrity Poker Showdown coming back?
Foley: No, Bravo hasn't ordered any more of them. I'm assuming it isn't coming back.
TV Guide: Did you have fun doing that?
Foley: It was a great time. It was sort of like going away to celebrity camp — it was our excuse to all hang out at the same place for a few days.
TV Guide: Do you play poker?
Foley: No, I'm not a big poker player.
TV Guide: Did you learn anything?
Foley: I learned very little and I endeavored to learn even less than I did, but some of it actually seeped through into my brain. There was some porousness to my defenses that I couldn't quite seal up, so I did learn a little bit about poker. Phil Gordon was certainly — and rightfully — happy to make fun of me for knowing nothing about the game, and I was quite happy to admit I knew nothing about it.
TV Guide: Are there any projects that you're working on right now?
Foley: Other than [Thank God], I've got about five independent features that are in postproduction, so we'll see if any of those come out. I'm doing some stuff for Turner Broadcasting's online comedy site, superdeluxe.com; I've produced six short things for them and I might be doing some more. I'm doing some writing and acting here and there.
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