Sketch Comedy Saturday: The Kids In The Hall
by Annie Wu, posted Jul 4th 2009 6:02PM
As a special Sketch Comedy Saturday treat, I will forgo the lengthy, typed-out, text version of me humming the Kids In The Hall theme song and get right down to business. This is one of those shows that are now considered classic sketch comedy (and Canadian comedy), so I feel silly for even having to profile them, but I am constantly surprised by the number of people whose eyes glaze over when I ask them if they've ever heard of the Kids. So ... Have you heard of the Kids?
Kids In The Hall was kind of, sort of like a Canadian Monty Python's Flying Circus from the late-80s/early-90s. Kind of. Sort of. All right, it's not entirely accurate but that's always the way I explain it to people that aren't quite as well-versed in sketch comedy history.
The show aired from 1989-ish to 1995, featuring the same cast members the entire time: Mark McKinney, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson, Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley. Their history briefly intertwines with that of Saturday Night Live, most notably in the fact that producer Lorne Michaels was the one that got them started. McKinney was even a cast member on SNL for a little while.
Thanks to a hell of a lot of make-up and costuming, the guys played every age, every gender, every mutation, every crazy possibility. One of the first things I noticed while watching them as a youngin' was how their women were actually very lady-like. I'm not just saying this because Mark McKinney made a more attractive woman than I do, but their female characters weren't screeching caricatures like Monty Python's pepper pots. If you have any doubt in your mind about the Kids' feminity, just check out Bruce McCulloch's Tammy.
There were a lot of recurring characters and occasional pop culture jabs but most of the series was just surreal people doing surreal things. Even Paul Bellini, the show writer who would inexplicably show up in a towel every once in a while, became very important to the show's extra-strange tone.
It's definitely an acquired taste and you have to love surreality with a whole lot of camp to enjoy the group. There's no denying that they're important to know if you want to call yourself a sketch comedy nerd, though. Here are some talking points to fake it it, followed by some videos to round out your education: "I'm crushing your head!" (this is to be accompanied by a pinching motion between the index finger and thumb), "Wow! Dave Foley sure looked great in a black turtleneck, didn't he?" and "I would definitely go gay for Scott Thompson. Or Buddy Cole. Mainly Scott Thompson."