When Scott Thompson introduced the world to his bon vivant character Buddy Cole on “The Kids in the Hall” (1989-1994), he became one of the first openly gay performers to play an out character on television. Now, decades later, he’s taking his iconic character on the road for a one-man show.
In “Scott Thompson: Aprés Le Déluge — The Buddy Cole Monologues,” the comedian delivers a tour de force of original monologues that he’s developed in the 20 years-plus since the Canadian sketch show went off the air.
While Buddy hasn’t changed in that time — he still has a devilish smile and drink in hand as he pushes the boundaries of what can be said — the topics he’s deemed worthy of skewering have changed as more doors have opened to the LGBTQ community. The result is a journey through time that includes issues like that HIV crisis in the ’90s through to our current politically-correct sensitive climate.
amNewYork caught up with Thompson ahead of his shows at Joe’s Pub (April 1 and 3) and a book event at The Stonewall Inn (April 2) where he’ll be reading passages from his book “Buddy Babylon: The Autobiography of Buddy Cole.”
You’ve been playing Buddy for a long time, have you changed the way you approach the character?
No. I think the world has changed, and the audiences have changed, but Buddy hasn’t. He hasn’t moved an inch. He’s exactly the same as he was when I first started, and very proud: No change, no growth.
He sort of seems like an eternal being.
When I first started doing him, he was almost like a minor god, or like a sprite or an imp. He’s a minion of the devil, not bad, but impish. Buddy is a minor minion, not murdering or committing genocide and ripping people up, but he’s doing little things like putting salt in the sugar bowl. It’s me, but Buddy gets a lot of joy out of stirring the pot, and that’s what keeps him young.
Were there any topics that particularly inspired you when preparing for the tour?
Anything that is considered taboo or beyond the pale are the topics that I like the most. They’re the ones that I send Buddy into, the most dangerous territory. He’s our first scout. We live in a very polarized time, a very thin-skinned time, and Buddy is perfect because he doesn’t care about any of that stuff. He actually relishes jumping into the taboo. I’m getting away with an awful lot, I think, because people just sort of give him the benefit of the doubt in a way. He’s kind of a secret weapon in the age of outrage.
You also do stand-up, did you find it challenging to leave the character behind?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve always been dabbling with stand-up, but I never took it seriously until seven or eight years ago and I decided I would really focus on it and get good at it, because the world had changed and I didn’t have to spend the first 10 minutes making people comfortable. Young people, they’re not uncomfortable with a gay man doing stand-up and that was not the case until very recently. It’s amazing to me the changes that we’ve seen, I don’t feel the hostility all the time.
Scott Thompson is at Joe’s Pub on April 1 and 3 at 9:30 p.m., 425 Lafayette St., joespub.publictheater.org, $20. He is at The Stonewall Inn on April 2 at 7 -10 p.m., 53 Christopher St., thestonewallinnyc.com, FREE.