Mark McKinney | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Mark McKinney

In 1989 The Kids in the Hall debuted on the CBC in Canada and on HBO in the US. Along with the other four members, Mark McKinney was responsible for writing the series.

Mark McKinney

 Mark McKinney, actor, writer (born at Ottawa 26 June 1959). Mark McKinney, the son of a diplomat, travelled the world with his family in his youth. He completed high school at Trinity College in Port Hope, Ont, in 1977 and studied politics and economics at MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY in St John's before going to the Alberta oil patch to look for work. He turned to improvisational comedy at the Loose Moose Theatre Company in Calgary, where he met Bruce MCCULLOCH. They formed a duo called The Audience and headed for Toronto, where they joined forces with Dave FOLEY and Kevin MCDONALD of THE KIDS IN THE HALL comedy troupe. Scott THOMPSON would soon join them, and they attracted the attention of Saturday Night Live (SNL) producer Lorne MICHAELS, who saw their potential. He felt the troupe needed seasoning, however, and invited McKinney and McCulloch to join the SNL writing staff for two seasons.

In 1989 The Kids in the Hall debuted on the CBC in Canada and on HBO in the US. Along with the other four members, Mark McKinney was responsible for writing the series. It was nominated for three consecutive Emmy Awards in 1993, 1994 and 1995, and received nine GEMINI AWARD nominations, winning three times, for best performance in a comedy program or series in 1989 and 1993 and best writing in a comedy program or series in 1989. With a distinctly edgy and frequently surreal style, the show slowly gained a loyal fan base over its five-year run. McKinney, who was considered the best actor in the troupe, created the memorable Chicken Lady, Darrill the Excellent Guy, and the utterly misanthropic Headcrusher.

After five seasons with The Kids, Mark McKinney was invited to join the cast of SNL for two seasons. When he left that series, he turned to the stage and appeared in the classical works of Georges Feydeau and Richard Sheridan at the New York Roundabout Theatre Company and the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. He has appeared in numerous Canadian films, including Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996); in a Genie Award-winning performance as a neurotic dog psychiatrist in Bruce McCulloch's Dog Park (1998); and in New Waterford Girl (1999), Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang (1999; as Mr. Fish) and Guy MADDIN's The Saddest Music in the World (2004). Other film appearances include Spice World (1997), The Last Days of Disco (1998), A Night at the Roxbury (1998), The Out-of-Towners (1999) and Superstar (1999).

Mark McKinney's television appearances include Seeing Things, Street Legal, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Don MCKELLAR's Twitch City, Mary WALSH's Hatching, Matching and Dispatching, Brent BUTT's Corner Gas, and the critically acclaimed Slings and Arrows (for which he won 3 awards from the Writers Guild of Canada along with co-creators Susan COYNE and Bob Martin, and 2 writing Geminis and a best actor Gemini for season 2). In 2005 he took a recurring role in CTV's Robson Arms, filmed in Vancouver, and in 2006 he was invited to write for, and appear in, the series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. In 2008 McKinney became creator/senior producer for the series Less Than Kind, starring Maury CHAYKIN (who died in 2010), and in 2009 the Kids in the Hall reunited to film their eight-part miniseries Death Comes to Town, which began airing on CBC-TV in January 2010.

McKinney has appeared onstage in live theatre, including his one-man show Fully Committed. His writing credits extend to the CBC series Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays and he is executive producer of the Canadian comedy series Picnicface.

At the Banff World Television Festival in 2009, Mark McKinney was presented with the Sir Peter Ustinov Award for his contribution to film and television.