This feature was originally published in July 2013 and is being re-run for Brain Candy’s 20th anniversary. Still holds up.
That familiar bassline, those black-and-white shots of Toronto’s city streets, the blurry faces of daily locals doing their daily tasks, and then pops up Dave Foley or Bruce McCulloch or Scott Thompson or Kevin McDonald or Mark McKinney — The Kids in the Hall. It was such a simple program with so many far-out ideas, the cultish stepchild to the accessible behemoth that was late ’80s/early ’90s Saturday Night Live.
Yet, despite its close proximity with the NBC dynasty, the Canadian sketch comedy series broke far more ground at the time, relying less on pop culture or topical impersonations and more on social anxieties revolving around subjects like sexuality, gender, faith, the workplace, and family. Sometimes it was flat-out stupid (McKinney’s Chicken Lady), often it was scandalous (Thompson’s Buddy Cole), and every now and then it cracked into the nonsensical (30 Helens).
Most of the time, the five disguised themselves in drag, poking fun at stereotypes and disassembling anyone’s expectations of where they were going and how they’d get there. This was the allure of the Kids, never knowing what they’d tackle next, but always feeling like you’d understand — it was rewarding. They weren’t as hyper-intellectual as, say, Monty Python, but they kept a safe distance ahead of Lorne Michaels’ flagship program by tackling taboos most only leave to pillow talk.
Over the weekend, it was announced the troupe reunited to tape an episode of Spun Out, a new television program starring Foley, with talk of further, unspecified activities. Does this mean another special a la 2010’s Death Comes to Town, or can this be a follow-up to 2008’s nationwide tour? We don’t know yet, but whatever the case, we got super excited … and nostalgic. So, we did what any eager fan would: We put together a list of our favorite sketches. Twenty in all.
Start laughing, or I’ll crush your head.