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August 26, 2021

Adam McKay shares story of how he lost a tooth tripping over the front steps of a Philly trinity house

The writer and director said that the incident occurred in the 1990s after a stand-up comedy gig in the city

Anybody who has walked around Philly's neighborhoods before knows how beautiful the iconic trinity houses are in the city.

But if you're not looking up and paying attention to where you're going, the front steps of these townhouses that frequently extend out onto the sidewalk or alleyway can trip you up. It appears that's exactly what happened to Philly's own Adam McKay, leaving the accomplished writer and director without a tooth.

In an interview published in GQ this week, the 53-year-old McKay and actor Jonah Hill talked about how both men's careers have evolved from developing hit comedies to more-serious, dramatic projects.

During their conversation, McKay talked about how he, and people in general, should take better care of themselves given the current state of the world. McKay cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, social media, climate change and income equality for his reasoning why he can't act like he did when he was a young comedian.

"I feel like in the ’90s, I was more like what you’re describing, where I could fall down a flight of stairs, where I could take a shotgun blast standing, and laugh about it," McKay told Hill. "And now it’s like, the world got intense. You’ve got to really breathe and go slow and be loving."

Hill responded by saying that maybe that means McKay has changed and evolved. After Hill said that knocking out some teeth while in his 20s with his comedy friends would be "rad," McKay explains how that exact scenario once happened to him in Philly.

"I was in Philadelphia in the early ’90s with a couple of friends, and we’d been out doing stand-up," McKay told Hill. "We’d had some drinks. We were going down a dark side street. And the old trinity houses in Philly, the stone steps jut out. And I clipped my foot on one of the steps and fell and knocked out my front tooth and chipped the tooth next to it. And we all immediately started laughing. I took the teeth and put them in a cup of milk, because someone said maybe they can put them back on [that way]. And then we went and had some more drinks and laughed and laughed. And the next day I went to the dentist with my teeth. He’s like, 'I can’t put these back.' That was life in your 20s as a comic."

Despite McKay's accidental fall at the hands of a trinity house's front steps, Philadelphia has played an integral part in his rise to filmmaking stardom. 

McKay grew up in both Philly and Malvern, Chester County, where he attended Great Valley High School and Temple University. McKay said that it was in Philly where his love for movies began.

"There’s no doubt that in my teen and college years, this is where I fell in love with movies," McKay told PhillyVoice in 2018. "I used to work at the Ritz 5 as an usher and cleaning toilets, as well as way out on Rt. 30 at the Eric Twin Frazier. I took great film classes at Temple University. My friends and I here, all we did was go to movies and talk about movies. No doubt about it. This is where I learned it all – it was the '80s, and all media was exploding. I was a child of that, and it all happened for me in Philly."

McKay first made it big in the comedy space. He was formerly the head writer at "Saturday Night Live" before moving on to write and direct hit comedy films like the two "Anchorman" movies, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and "Step Brothers."

In recent years, McKay has transitioned to more dramatic projects such as "The Big Short," "Vice" and "Succession."

Based on author Michael Lewis' best-selling book, "The Big Short" provides a satirical look at the Great Recession of 2008. The film earned McKay the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay in 2016.

McKay then received three Oscar nominations in 2019 for "Vice," which told the story of Dick Cheney's rise to vice president. "Succession" was awarded outstanding drama series at the Emmy Awards last year. 

The next time that McKay is back in his home city, let's just hope he doesn't trip and fall over a front step while walking around again.

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