In the early 1980s, the members of what would become The Kids In The Hall were performing in different provinces of Canada. Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney were busy doing Theatresports together in Calgary, Alberta under the moniker “The Audience,” while in Toronto, Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald were operating as a comedy group called “The Kids In The Hall.”
The performers encountered each other in Toronto in 1984 and began working together under the latter name, adding Scott Thompson in 1985 and finding a passionate chemistry together. Dave Foley says in an interview with Garrett Martin of Paste that “even if [they perform] a silly, silly sketch, there’s a passion that goes into it and a real obsession with doing something nobody else would do. ” When Lorne Michaels of SNL saw the ensemble perform, he pushed for the sketch group to have their own TV show.
By 1990, The Kids In The Hall was a regular series on CBC television and the US ‘HBO. The show quickly developed a cult following for its unique stories and unpredictable sketches. Like Dave Foley, writer Paul Bellini says in a Jen Talks Too Much interview that his favorite part of Kids In The Hall was developing “something different from other sketch shows,” because they never did a parody or hot-button commentaries on the day’s headlines, or impersonated anyone other than the Queen and Einstein. They were operating on an entirely different level.
The series operated for five seasons until it was canceled in the mid-1990s. Since then, the group starred in their own movie Brain Candy in 1996 and a miniseries in 2010 called Death Comes to Town. After a long break, The Kids In The Hall have returned for another series in May 2022 on Amazon Prime Video (along with a documentary chronicling the group’s years, called Comedy Punks). In the spirit of their return, here is why The Kids In The Hall is one of the funniest TV shows of all time.
The Kids In The Hall Has Its Own Formula
As previously mentioned, The Kids In The Hall always strived to produce comedy no one had attempted before. Their sketches are always a combination of weird situations with an element of unpredictability, darkness, or gross-out comedy. Even their well-known sketches like “Head Crusher,” “Girl Drink Drunk,” and “Things To Do” are very weird and unusual. Not only do the Kids create odd circumstances, but they also like to be shocking.
For example, the frequent Buddy Cole monologues from Scott Thompson are extremely provocative, with confrontational queer comedy and subversive streams of thought. Another shocking and controversial sketch is called “Cancer Boy”. The piece intended to make fun of celebrities who gained attention through spending time with sick kids. According to Mental Floss“A lot of people thought it was a bad taste jab aimed at the kids” but the comedians stood by their critique of attention-seeking celebrities, just as they did with “Dr. Seuss Bible,” which got the group in a lot of trouble for sparking religious controversy.
The Kids In The Hall Have Excellent Chemistry Together
Despite some creative differences and detours during their careers, the five comedians still work excellently together. In a Vulture review of the new series, Kathryn VanArendonk says that the group is “still obsessed with absurdity and the inevitability of endings.” In an interview with Jason Tabrys of Uproxx, Dave Foley says that one of the things that make them work well together is mutual arrogance.
As a collective, Foley admits that they have a “supremely unfounded confidence” that the sketches they create will be successful ones. The Kids In The Hall also share the perspective that they are not performing for any particular audience, but for each other, and trying to make each other laugh (arguably the toughest crowd). Back in their pre-television days, their flyers read “don’t come, you’ll only get in the way,”
The Kids In The Hall Don’t Rely On Old Ideas
Although the original show seemed tailored to the members of Generation X, Dennis Harvey of Variety states that the reboot involves enough “insight and interpersonal drama to entertain newbies”. The reboot is a balanced mixture of some old characters but with largely new situations and a much more polished and different style; they’re not afraid of whatsoever to progress without the boon of nostalgia, and are never scared to comment on their own age, refusing to live in the past. In one new sketch, the kids appear as 60-year-old pole dancers, who the audience members find attractive for their reading glasses and “probably still [having] a landline. ”
This new installation creates a bridge between the past and younger generations. Another sketch, which Movieweb considers to be one of the funniest moments of television this year, sees a Zoom meeting go awry in increasingly graphic ways. While the fresh ideas are there, the audience is still presented with recurring characters like openly gay Buddy Cole, the infamous “head crusher,” and Kevin McDonald playing himself.
Although The Kids In The Hall had their challenges, they are back for more adventures with fresh material and beloved characters. Subversively queer, consistently funny, and absolutely bizarre, their presence in the television landscape has created some of the funniest moments on TV.
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