BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — It’s a lucky thing that Dave Foley is good at comedy — because he’s bad at everything else. “I’m terrible at so many things,” says the star of the late sitcom “NewsRadio.”
“I’m a very disorganized person in every other way. I’m very disorganized. Everything’s straight in my head when I’m working, but when I’m not working, I can’t balance a checkbook. I can’t remember phone numbers. I forget appointments all the time,” he says at a dining table in a hotel meeting room.
He laughs when it’s suggested that maybe he needs a wife. He’s already enlisted two, he says, ruefully. And those divorces accounted for his toughest times.
“Both of my wives changed the direction of my life,” says Foley. “I’m single right now. I’m three years into being single this time, let’s see how long it lasts. I know comedy gets the girls. I’ll just try not to keep any of them.”
Foley has reunited with his colleagues from the Kids in the Hall comedy troupe for a new eight-part series, “Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town” on IFC beginning Friday.
There’s something about the chemistry when they’re working together, says Foley, who went on to co-star in “NewsRadio” and guested on shows like “Will and Grace,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “In Plain Sight.”
“I’ve gotten to work with a lot of great people — but nowhere do I have the same ease that I have with the other Kids in the Hall.”
Foley started as a standup when he was 17. Trying times included “all of my childhood. I was a shy kid and had not the greatest family situation,” he says.
When he encountered fellow “Kids” comedian, Kevin McDonald, things started to change. “We met at an improv workshop at Second City. And after the first class we made each other laugh, and he asked me to join his improv. And once I joined the improv team — which became the Kids in the Hall — and once I started working with Kevin I gave up standup pretty quickly after that. Sketch comedy was a lot more fun.”
The group worked together for five years before they snagged their Canadian TV show that was later exported to the states. “We had a big following in Toronto but there were a few years when we played to empty houses. We lost money. We used to do these shows where basically our bar tab would eat up any money we brought into the door,” he smiles, the narrow gap in his front teeth giving him a puckish look.
“We paid our bar tab and the rental on the room. We all had crappy jobs. I was a pizza cook and Kevin and I were movie ushers together. He worked at a coffee shop. Mark (McKinney) worked in a bank. Bruce (McCulloch) was the only one making money doing comedy.”
Though the work is erratic, Foley, 47, says he never considered quitting. “A lot of times it feels like you have quit whether you like it or not, but it’s a fun job. It’s really a fun way to make a living. There are a lot of other things I’d like to quit, but comedy isn’t one of them.”
Foley says he realized he was funny when he was about 4. “I know that on my junior kindergarten report card the teacher mentions really enjoying my sense of humor. I remember I used to do pratfalls. I would copy pratfalls I’d see Jerry Lewis doing in movies. I’d do falls down flights of stairs and out of trees — not really the class clown. I was kind of a quiet kid for the most part. I would just do gags that I’d seen comedians do. I responded to the laughter.”
He says his family (he’s one of four) didn’t recognize his comic streak until he had a TV show. “I was always the funny person in my group of friends. It was a good way to get girls, it still is.
“I do it ‘cause it’s the most enjoyable thing in life for me. Being a comedian is ... I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without doing comedy, not just performing it, but also the lifestyle, being friends with so many funny people.”
Though he’s the father of two sons, 17 and 15, from his first wife and a 7-year-old daughter from his second, he says he doesn’t think he’s changed. “I don’t feel that anything about me has changed since my earliest memories. I think I’m exactly the same person I was when I was 3 years old. The person who is inside my head is the person I was when I was a little child. But things have happened that have changed the course of my life.”
Everybody’s favorite geeks on “The Big Bang Theory” will be moving to Thursday nights on Sept. 23. Chuck Lorre, creator of the show, says he wasn’t consulted about the shift. “Nobody asked my opinion, and, frankly, one assumes they’ve given it a lot of thought, and it’s a good thing for the show. I mean, given where we are now after three seasons, I’d be crazy to argue with the choices that CBS has made along the way. ... So if they think this is a good call, then that’s great. Our job is to make a good show. It’s not to program the show. We grow the crops. We don’t have the truck that brings it to market.”
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer adds another show to his overburdened TV gun belt when “The Whole Truth” hits ABC this fall. With shows like “CSI, both Miami and NY,” “Dark Blue,” “The Amazing Race,” Bruckheimer says he can’t resist the procedure of planting a show on the air.
“What I love is, I love process, and this is a great process show,” he says of “The Whole Truth.” It takes you behind the scenes to what actually goes on prior to the courtroom and in the courtroom. I’ve never seen a show like this, the competition between the defense and the prosecutors and how they build their cases. And the fact that we got such wonderful advisers who were working with us who have been through this many times, and even one of our writers was part of the system. So that makes it exciting for me. ‘CSI’ was all process. ... After O.J. was on television for ... almost a year, that whole trial, people became so fascinated with law and how it all worked, how the prosecutors put together their cases and how the defense tried to make up stories, or whatever they did, to get their client off. So this shows you how they do it and why they do it.”
There are bunches of tough, slam-bam! broads starring in series this fall including Piper Perabo, who’s already on “Covert Affairs,” Sarah Shahi in “Facing Kate,” and Maggie Q in the latest incarnation of “Nikita” (she was first a French movie, then a TV series). Maggie Q is best known as the artful dodger in many Asian martial arts movies.
“When I was living and working in Asia, at the time Jackie (Chan) was looking for these new young people to star in movies that he was producing, not starring in, but producing. So his team of guys trained me when I was very young in different disciplines. ... They broke me basically and sort of molded me. They gave me my introduction. I wouldn’t say they taught me everything at all because I have to tell you, once I got to Hollywood, I feel like that’s when I really, really got into the action genre because I felt like the people here — we really got the time to focus on things when we’re booked for a project. ... You can’t fake this stuff. You can’t. You either know it, or you don’t.”