The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Kevin McDonald (“Who Gets the Last Laugh”)

Kevin McDonald may not maintain as high a profile as some of his fellow Kids in the Hall, like Scott Thompson, who’s on NBC’s “Hannibal,” or Dave Foley, who’s on everything, but that’s because he spends at least as much time as a writer or in a recording booth for some cartoon or other as he does in front of the camera. Tonight, however, McDonald steps back in front of the camera as a guest prankster on TBS’s “Who Gets the Last Laugh?”, and he spoke to Bullz-Eye about his experience on the show while also discussing guest-writing for “Saturday Night Live,” playing Pastor Dave on “That ’70s Show,” and ongoing attempts to get the Kids back together again.

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Bullz-Eye: So how did you find yourself involved in TBS’s “Who Gets the Last Laugh?” Did they reach out to you?

Kevin McDonald: They reached out to me! Yes! I was in my nice blue house in Winnipeg, and I got the email from them, saying, “Would you like to do this?” And I thought at first that I’d be too Canadian to do this. Like, too polite. I thought I’d be too nice to pull pranks on people. That’s what I thought in my blue house in Winnipeg. But as it turned out, I could do it!

BE: Did you have to fight your every Canadian instinct to do it?

KM: Yes. [Laughs.] At first I did. Because we’re too polite and too nice, and we feel guilty. But then you get into it, and…it’s not even like the cruel part of me kicked in or anything…until it did. But it wasn’t even that. It was just, y’know, “It’s a job.” And once I started getting into it, it sort of became like a sketch, only with one of the people not knowing what the script was. And that was sort of the challenge, but I got really into it. I really enjoyed it.

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The Light from the TV Shows: It’s Time to Meet “The Neighbors”

Unto each generation, there must come at least one sitcom about aliens coming to Earth and trying to learn the ins and outs of humanity. It’s a trend which began in the 1960s with “My Favorite Martian,” and it has continued through the ‘70s (“Mork and Mindy”), ‘80s (“ALF”), ‘90s (“3rd Rock from the Sun”), and even the ‘00s (“My Hero”), and rather than leave us sitting on the edge of our seat for the better part of the decade, ABC has jumped into the fray early and provided us with the requisite entry for the ‘10s: “The Neighbors,” which premieres tonight at 9:30 PM.

Here’s the premise, straight from the ABC press release:

Marty Weaver (Lenny Venito) just wants the best for his wife, Debbie (Jami Gertz), and their three kids. That’s why he’s moving them to Hidden Hills, New Jersey, a gated community complete with its own golf course. Marty is certain that their new home will be a dream come true. And then, they meet the neighbors.

The residents of Hidden Hills are a little… different. The Weavers have barely unpacked when 20 of their new neighbors show up in the driveway, standing in a triangle formation, each holding an identical cherry pie. Larry Bird (Simon Templeman) introduces himself as the “leader” of the community. Then he presents his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Toks Olagundoye), and their two sons (yes, they’re named after famous athletes – Dick Butkus and Reggie Jackson). As Debbie and Marty frantically try to make sense of the weird neighbors – European? A cult? Amish athletes? – they discover that the entire Hidden Hills community is comprised of aliens from the planet Zabvron. ‘Turns out the Zabvronians have been holed up in Hidden Hills for the past 10 years, awaiting instructions from back home, and the Weavers are the first humans who have ever lived amongst them.

At first the Weavers are ready to cut and run. But the aliens seem harmless enough. And there is a lot of closet space… So they decide to stay and help their new neighbors adapt to life on this confusing planet we call home. But as the Weavers and the aliens face the struggles of everyday life together, they discover that some things – the ups and downs of marriage, the desire to be a good parent and raise a happy family – are universal, intergalactic even. And the Weavers realize they’ve found an ally in the family next door… even if they do cry out of their ears.

When people have asked me to cite my favorite new shows of the season, I won’t pretend that “The Neighbors” has been at the top of my list, but I have found that I can rarely finish such a conversation without at least bringing it up. Not because I like it, although I do, but because my seven-year-old daughter absolutely freaking loves it…like, to the point where she has watched my advance DVD of the pilot three times now, almost lost her mind when I told her that ABC had provided me with an online screener of the second episode, and demanded that I add it to the TiVo queue immediately.

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