Kat in the Hall: 1×09

Episode 9: Airdate: Tuesday January 2, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Kathie, Cathy and Tanya

Preacher Character

Weston Esterhazy & Virgil

Review!

So long 1989, hello 1990! Let’s celebrate by dying in the house we were born in, talk behind co-workers backs, explore our inner preacher characters and talk about some celebrities.

Stereotypical, over-the-top and weird characters are great sources of humour and the Kids in the Hall do them all very well and with seemingly no effort. Sometimes though, a simple deadpan character doing something persistently strange is always a treat. Dave does ordinary so well. He doesn’t need crazy costumes or funny voices to portray weird. instead he goes from just another guy you might meet on a street to one you could still meet on the street but you really hope you never do. This could be taken as an insult to the other Kids but one of the great qualities about the troupe is they all have their strengths which compliment and contrast the other members. Just as Scott can play overly masculine characters and old ladies extremely well, Dave takes a normal guy and twists him just enough.

The three parts of “A Place to Die” talk about the characters obsession with dying in the house he was born. This obsession logically translates into an obsession with dying soon to make sure the first part occurs. Although the first two links are funny, it’s not until Kevin’s character comes in and amps it up with some good old-fashioned physical comedy (complete with obvious dummy) that I really enjoy the sketch.

Now, “Secretaries” often called “Receptionists” is a whole troupe endeavour, we’re just setting the foundation right now. We’ll see Dave and Kevin’s office characters in later sketches.

More than once I’ve heard Bruce McCulloch say in interviews that Kathie was his favourite female (possibly favourite overall) character. Maybe it’s because she’s such a well-rounded character. Both Kathie and Cathy are strong female characters, even if Kathie is often worried about her weight, and Cathy talks about others behind her back. In fact, those kind of worries and flaws make them more human. There’s a foundation in Kathie based on Bruce’s sister but the flourishes and assertiveness, characteristic of Bruces’ characters, ground her as a solid character that exists in her own reality. Like Mr. Tyzic (Headcrusher) or Buddy she knows who she is and no matter what the world throws at her she’s able to respond to it. Cathy helps pick her up as good friends do even if it’s at Tanya’s expense. Speaking from experience office environments can be extreme and not at all healthy.

I don’t think anyone would argue that there’s unhealthy behaviour in this office but looking past that there’s the fact that it’s supposed to be humourous and not based entirely in reality. Still there are elements of this sketch that are positive both in and out of character. In the interview following this sketch on the Nerdist Channel, Bruce mentions (I’m sure Scott would agree if he was there) enjoying this sketch because he gets to relate to Scott on a lighter level. Unlike Kevin and Dave who have that kind of connection in many sketches we don’t often get to see Scott and Bruce playing against each other.

“All you gotta do is look down to the southern United States, you can see that televangelists and preachers are fast eclipsing rock and roll musicians as the drug-poppin,’ tax-weaselin,’ prostitute-pumpin’ bad boys of pop culture!”

The Preacher character sketch is a fabulous example of exploring a character by explaining a character. Many comedians have a preacher or over the top religious character and they can walk the line of too much; not funny and not enough; not funny. I would be curious to see other Kids do the same sketch with their own preacher character just to see the difference in approaches. Feel free to recommend other sketches that have this kind of approach, related to Kids in the Hall or not.

Weston and Virgil. I have tried so hard to like these characters. I try and I try and understand why they’re funny but it’s a pain for me to watch them. Maybe it’s because I know people like this and maybe it’s because they are such parodies of nerdy dweebs that try to act cool, whatever the case it’s not a sketch I can relate to or watch over and over. As one commenter put on YouTube, he’s still more attractive than Perez Hilton. I think that’s a given. I do like their friendship though and I’m always a sucker for a sketch with Scott and Mark. Like Kevin and Dave they are able to play off each other very well and their similarities make up for a stronger back and forth. Nice to see the sketch dated by the Rob Lowe mention as well as the pictures on the wall behind them both.

Teddy Bears’ Picnic is such a sweet little sketch with actors in roles we haven’t seen them play very much. We don’t often get Scott as the kid, usually he plays the father to Dave or Bruce’s kid role, although he is in bed so that helps with the height factor. He does an amazing job and hits whiny and annoying just enough without going overboard. I love the basic idea of a kid picking a kid’s story apart, (very realistic) and questioning a parent about something they’ve told them. Always question authority, kids. I’ll be the first to admit when I hear the Teddy Bears’ picnic I asked the same question about their bedtime; 6 o’clock, really?

Dave brings his usual attractiveness in a wig and dress to the sketch (he looks down right glamourous) and plays naive wife to Bruce’s stories. I enjoyed the fact that although the wife is naive she’s not a push over in the traditional sense:

“Don’t EVER contradict me in front of the boy.”

Also, if I had my mouth washed out with soup; good soup, not something like Italian Wedding soup, every time I swore I would swear a lot more. Mmm, soup!

KITHfan.org provides a simple, succinct summary for this sketch:

In short- The sloppy narrative, the non-believing son, and the all-too-believing wife.

Last week we had the Ping Pong sketches as linking between longer sketches, which works better?

Monday in episode 10, we’ll see the “Nobody Likes Us” guys and explore farmers with tails, drunk brothers and Vaudeville with a bad straight man.

Leave a comment!


tally109

Watch on youtube? Please purchase the box set when you are able. (amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk [NTSC])

Kat in the Hall: 1×08

Episode 8: Airdate: Tuesday December 19, 1989

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Gord, Fran & Brian

Gord, Fran & Brian

Nobody Likes Us Guys

Nobody Likes Us Guys

The Kids in the Hall are doing a Q&A tomorrow Tuesday April 21st at 8pm EST on their facebook page. Check out their video:

https://www.facebook.com/kidsinthehall/videos/10153193074064564

Review!

Let me sum up this episode in a few thoughts before I begin the proper review.

Mark is like a puppy.
Where’s Bruce?
Nobody likes us.
Dinosaur costume.

The episode begins with a scene familiar to many college students: two guys playing Ping Pong (Kevin and Dave) and one guy waiting his turn and offering opinions. Or you can substitute a dog for the annoying guy and be none the wiser. Mark McKinney had to be channeling a big ol’ labrador in this episode complete with shaggy hair and puppy dog eyes to the guys playing. It’s clever and a nice little piece to link sketches.

Remember Salty Ham with Gord and Fran? They’re back, and this time we get to meet Brian, their son that we only saw in bedside photographs before. Scott shows his amazing ability at playing middle-aged women and Dave plays a 16 year old so well. There are family dynamics here that should be relevant to a lot of people watching: overbearing mother, loud and annoying father, angsty teenage son.

This isn’t a horrible family though. No matter how much Gord protests and it may seem like he hates Brian, he clearly cares enough to buy his underaged son beer. We can’t know if it was to help his son fit in with his friends or if it was because he believes a kid Brian’s age needs to know how to drink. There’s no doubt that Fran loves him and dotes on him, perhaps too much but they aren’t a dysfunctional family. I would argue they are one of the most normal families represented on Kids in the Hall. From everything I’ve read, many of the Kids dealt with alcoholic fathers. Gord seems like a father of the year nominee when you consider what could be.

I’m not really a fan of Chain Gang but it has some good qualities. It starts with a great false start with the mention of St. Elmo’s. It inspires some questions: Do chain gangs still exist? Did they exist when this episode was written? Was this a Dave and Kevin sketch? It ends well too, with Mark’s character spilling the beans on the secret crush Skinny Pete (Kevin’s character) had on Dave’s character. I adore that part if only because it’s not played for laughs because it’s two male characters, it’s played because of how embarrassed he is.

From Chain Gangs to bank loans, we meet two of the few recurring characters without names. The “Nobody Likes Us” guys, as they are often known came about when Dave and Kevin were flying together and the Air Stewardess kept ignoring their requests. Dave at one point turned to Kevin and said in the same voice with a pout, “nobody likes us.” It stuck and the characters were created. Kevin mentions on a commentary on the first season box set that during the scenes where they’re strung up on the nooses he had undergone a dental procedure and was completely out of it on painkillers. I think it enhances the scene!

Buddy Cole reappears and this time tells us all about dinosaurs and the gay bar scene. I’m of two minds of this sketch mostly because I don’t know what Scott was trying to get across. Was it a purely funny and outlandish sketch or are the dinosaurs supposed to represent old people? Think about it, old people invading their clubs and heckling them “killing” their sex lives. The fact that a guy in a dinosaur costume shows up at the end just cements the fact that I have no idea what Scott was trying to say with this sketch. I won’t complain though, more Buddy Cole is always better.

Lastly, a note that this is the first episode that isn’t relatively balanced between the Kids. Bruce is only in one sketch.

This episode is a great example of linking sketches, what do you think of the Ping Pong sketch?


tally108

Watch on youtube? Please purchase the box set when you are able. (amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk [NTSC])

Kat in the Hall: 1×07

Episode 7: Airdate: Tuesday December 12, 1989

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Bobby's Father

Bobby’s Father

Bobby

Bobby

Laura

Nina Spudkneeyak

Danny Husk (minus mustache)

Review!
I will be saying this a lot but I want you to know that when I first saw this episode, one thought went through my head before all others: “this is a really strange episode.” It’s strange because of how normal it seems on the outset.


It begins like a movie, and let’s be fair that’s what makes this so strange. We are seven episodes in and we have certain expectations from our cold opens. If you take away the fact that the cast is all played by men we would have a B movie level story. As interesting as the individual sketches are the Kids have created something bigger and broken it into three parts. Hotel la Rut 1, 2 & 3. It’s the first episode to really use the potential of the camera and to tie sketches and bits together into a cohesive, running gag revolving around Tony. Wondering where he could be, who he is with, what is he thinking, is he thinking of me, and whether he’ll ever return someday.

Plummet has some good lines even if the story is on the weak side. It gives us the quotable line of: “See you crapburgers on the ground!” We learn just how unlucky luck can be and get some interesting statistics; if you’re into that kind of thing. This sketch continues the cast introducing themselves. In the sketch Gorilla we get an introduction from Kevin McDonald and now it’s Mark McKinney’s turn. I try to keep my fangirling opinions to myself in this blog posts but he does strike a fine image in the aviators.

He tries but the little monologue that talks about divorce is a weak ending to a less than stellar sketch. The sketch does a great job of helping to break up the Hotel la Rut pieces with something different both in style and tone, but it can’t compare to the wit of Christian Fletcher or the fun that Joymakers brings.

Christian Fletcher is a cute little solo piece starring Dave. It really reminds me of some of the sketches done in A Bit of Fry and Laurie where the idea is simple (his name) but a tiny twist brings it off-the-wall. Dave does an excellent job portraying this character who clearly at some point was asked if he was that Fletcher Christian. You know, the one that died in 1793. That Fletcher Christian.

First Poem is the first appearance of Bobby, his parents and his girlfriend Laura. The Kids are talented when it comes to creating families and we’ve already met another family (minus son played by Dave) with Gord and Fran in the Salty Ham sketch. We met Bobby’s father last episode, he and his wife own a trucking company and now we meet their son who clearly has benefited from their success and is acting out. Bobby is a guitar playing, poem creating, rocker that just doesn’t care. There are big things in his future. I’m torn between calling him a punk or a rebel because at this point all we are sure of is that he’s an angsty teenager.

After reading Bruce McCulloch’s memoirs “Let’s Start a Riot” (highly recommended), I think quite a bit of Bobby was based off Bruce himself as a teenager. He mentions that one of his first relationships with a girl involved holding the cuff of the other person’s jean jacket. If you watch Laura and Bobby they do the same kind of cuff holding jacket stuff, plus the teenage need to make-out all the time. The spinning newspaper headlines were a nice touch, although I did wonder when the newspaper gag would spin into “Spinning Newspaper Kills Thirteen!”

Joymakers is a refreshing contrast and a return to what we’ve seen the Kids do in all the episodes prior. It’s more traditional, introducing Nina from Joymakers and a mustache-less Danny Husk. Like the Hotel sketches it features the entire troupe. We are starting to see some trends, with Mark playing the annoying woman (he’s exceptionally good at playing annoying women), Dave playing shy and Kevin playing… well Kevin plays strange amazingly well. Scott is also playing a straight up businessman. Yes, there is a joke there and no, I’m not going to make it. The troupe is exploring their roles and beginning to fit into categories. There is a great part when Mark (as Nina) grabs one of the other kids and slams them into the wall. No dainty throw. It reinforces that they weren’t playing men in drag, they were playing proper women characters. Sometimes women are insane. Nina is insane and strong.

Now, Hotel La Rut is the great example of repetition being the highest form of comedy. Repeating things is funny. We have the same five lines repeated and each time I find myself start to chuckle just before Scott gets to the second line. We know what they’re going to say and in the second and third sketch so do the other characters. They find ways to spin those words into a different connotation.

Even Dave’s surly and aggressive french character that keeps coming back to “borrow” wine gets in on the repetition. We haven’t really seen Dave as an aggressive character yet, not to the extent that Bruce, Mark and Scott have had the opportunity to play. Just like Kevin so rarely plays a sexy character at this point Dave seems to be relegated to innocent or naive characters that make use of his boyish charm. I won’t argue with that.

This episode, although strange, makes very good use of the Kids’ writing abilities and their ability to play certain types of characters extremely well. So this post’s question is:
The Kids all have types of characters they play better than others. Which of their characters do you think best describes their style of comedy?


tally107

Watch on youtube? Please purchase the boxset when you are able. (amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk [NTSC])

Kat in the Hall: 1×06

Episode 6: Airdate: Tuesday December 5, 1989

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Thirty Helens Return!

Thirty Helens

Bobby's Father

Bobby’s Father

Review!
The Thirty Helens have returned and this time they’re here to pontificate on tattoos and promptness. The idea of the Thirty Helens sketch has started to develop into proper comedy all on its own. It’s more than just the weirdness of thirty people named Helen standing in a field, some of the Helens are getting more developed personalities and quirks.

First sketch with the Kids and we have, in my opinion, one of the best sketches the Kids in the Hall have ever done. Robber (Scott) robs a guy (Dave) who then calls for the police, a cop arrives (Kevin) who after a tussle arrests the robber. Simple presence but done amazingly well. Although it’s more an apathetic robbery than a bored robber; we see a great mix of sarcasm, timing, choices and body language. This is a sketch that could be easily mimicked by almost anyone, it doesn’t require many props or fight choreography (the violence is only gentle tapping) but it requires a high level of skill to pull off successfully. Kevin as the cop shines as the best player in this between his sing-song “Coooooooooooming!” and his response to Scott holding Dave hostage, “then perhaps you’d better get on the other side of him, sir.” Kevin’s sense of comedy (a twist of dry humor and everyday things done humorously) is rampant throughout the whole sketch and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of the main writers behind it.

Look at Dave. This is a comedy choice.

Look at Dave. This is a comedy choice.

A quick scramble for a gun, the briefest bout of fisticuffs known to man and the scene ends nice and tidy. One of the hardest parts of a scene is the ending. A lot of scenes fade out with whomever is on screen making a face or posing before transition to another scene. This sketch is a proper story with a beginning, middle and end. We will see Kevin’s cop character again in another sketch, but I’m not including him as a recurring character because it could be a coincidence. I think police shirt and mustache does not a unique character make.

The whole troupe is together for the musical sketch that is “Running Faggot,” a sketch and song that almost works better on TV than it does on the stage. As cheesy as they might look I like the backgrounds, which sometimes are placed upon screens during the live performances for Scott to run in front of and sometimes are omitted.

Let’s address what may be an elephant in the room… Some people will find the term “faggot” offensive and still some of those people will believe it shouldn’t even be written. Those people are welcome to skip to the next sketch. I believe the term is a necessary one in this context and actually strengthens the statement they’re trying to make.

The song revolves around a common-sense dispensing folk hero who happens to be gay. He feeds a puppy, gets people talking instead of fighting and avoids a violent encounter with homophobic rednecks.. Scott is the hero of the sketch and Mark and Bruce playing the narrators are encouraging him. The “Rednecks” are the villains of the piece (as they should be given their actions.) We can look at the sketch as a product of the age in which it was made and as a statement against homophobia. Yes, the other characters are calling the character Faggot which is a word that we, today, don’t believe is an acceptable word.

From the information I’ve gathered looking into this sketch, Scott simply said “Running Faggot” at a pitch meeting and the rest of the Kids nodded and let him do his thing. He is a gay man and there are topics that the LGBT community deal with that are exceedingly uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be addressed.

Let’s remember that in late 1989 we didn’t have television shows like Glee or even openly queer characters on TV. For a lot of Canadians (especially small town Canadians) Scott was their first exposure to someone who was gay. He was out and doing comedy that was years ahead of its time. Kids in the Hall often used comedy to talk about topics that other TV shows wouldn’t dare talk about. They used homophobic language to mock homophobes and to show how stupid the things they were saying were. This sketch as uncomfortable as it may be and as catchy as the song shouldn’t be, was ground breaking.

“Flogging” shows just another way businessmen relax. Sometimes I think sales people who work on commission must be sadists so this sketch just makes sense. You will note that Bruce fills the role that Bellini will soon occupy as he passes momentarily through the scene in only a towel.

The word truck appears in the “Trucker” sketch 16 times.

Trucks.

Trucks.

“Can I keep him?” shows off the acting abilities of the troupe. Scott’s mother character who is far more patient than most people would be with a son like Bruce, his nagging and repetition of the word Mom brings about memories of Stewie Griffin asking for his mother repeatedly. Bruce is also channelling something because no adult should be able to be that annoying of a kid.

Kids in the Hall often mocks or reduces businessmen down to lesser beings and this is something I’ve done in the past. Sometimes their business card exchanges, hand shakes and talking about stocks just reminds me of animals you see on wildlife programs. I still have no idea what kind of animal Dave and Mark were attempting to mimic or what sound exactly they were making but it’s strange enough to be funny.

Kevin spends almost 100% of this sketch completely silent, only miming different actions or ‘acting with his eyes.’ I think he only speaks when he meets Mark and Dave and says “taxi.” He’s said in interviews and on the commentary for the 2001 documentary “Same Guys, New Dresses” that he was kicked out of theatre school for being a one-legged actor. Meaning that he could do comedy but couldn’t do Shakespeare or serious acting. This sketch makes me question that. There are lots of lines that are played for laughs but his looks back to Bruce when he’s about to leave in the taxi is heartbreaking.

The tears start here as I remember every movie where the hero has to return the critter to the wild...

The tears start here as I remember every movie where the hero has to return the critter to the wild…

Although the whole sketch is funny, it’s touching at the same time. Here’s a kid, as messed up as we’re lead to believe he is, clearly caring for Mr. Stevenson. He’s upset when he doesn’t know what’s wrong with him and he makes the grown-up decision to let him go. Yes, I realize this is a comedy sketch but I’ll be brave enough to admit that every time I watch it I cry. Those tears from Bruce whether they’re real or not always get me.

Then I see the cooked oatmeal and remember how silly it all is. Also, that cooked oatmeal is disgusting. For all I cry, I cringe at the oatmeal on hockey jersey action. Ew.

We’ve got some strong sketches in this episode, which one resonates the most with you? Leave a comment.


tally106

Watch on youtube? Please purchase the boxset when you are able. (amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk [NTSC])

Kat in the Hall: 1×05

Episode 5: Airdate: Tuesday November 21th, 1989

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

The Geralds

Headcrusher aka Mr. Tyzik  (Mark)

Headcrusher aka Mr. Tyzik (Mark)

Review!
Episode five and the return of the Headcrusher!

First, the Indian Drum and a short and sweet little cold open with Mark and Kevin. The neat little thing to notice with this sketch (aside from the intense look Mark has throughout the entire thing that no other Kid can pull off, except maybe Scott when he’s playing Idiot Boy) is that just before he’s about to get hit at the end, you see him almost break and the smallest smile creep onto his face. I can’t imagine it’s easy to get bonked on the head with stuff without cracking but I enjoy pointing these things out.

The Geralds is an interesting sketch. I absolutely adore it like most Bruce/Mark sketches. Looking at it as an adult in the times we live in, I do wonder how other people feel about it. Does it offend people? Does it encourage using alcohol to take advantage of someone? There was a time when I would say you were thinking too hard and had nothing better to do if you stopped to over analyze, now though I think it can be beneficial to stop laughing, take a step back and examine what you’re laughing at. I’m not saying don’t laugh at it, I encourage it! If nothing else it’s a unique idea and maybe you could get something out of two white guys bartering on behalf of two teenagers. I’m not sure I care to really put the effort into saying “what if they meant this” (sometimes the author writes blue curtains because they just like blue) but I would be interested to hear theories.

There’s also this.

These comedians are not afraid (remember this show was in the almost 90s people)

Back to the funny. The Head Crusher makes his return in two little sketches and according to different sites I came across this seems to be the sketch that most people remember the character for. Given the avenue Mark takes in the later seasons and the live shows with Mr. Tyzik becoming an even more recluse, social inept man who hates everyone, it’s interesting to see the beginning as almost the opposite. In the second sketch he helps someone and in the first he takes the time to not squish the head of Kevin’s character because he feels sorry for him. He may hate almost everyone but there are lots of people out there that would identify with his dislike of jocks and overly confident, annoying people!

There are so many Head Crusher quotable lines! The biggest (and best in my opinion) of course being:

“Like sheep to the moon!”

Explore Scott, I won’t get into detail, it’s a sketch and cute but I’m not a big fan. An interesting behind-the-scenes note though from TV.com:

HBO was originally not going to allow the “Explore Scott” sketch, until producers brought it to their attention that they show naked women on the network all the time, and would protest their nudity stance if they didn’t allow male nudity. The sketch was quickly allowed.

We need more producers like that and to be fair, you don’t see anything during the whole sketch; it’s still PG except for maybe the one long shot at the beginning when you see a bit of bum.

Good Grandpa, a full cast piece is brilliant and kind of creepy but shows what Kids in the Hall is all about. Take something familiar and warp it just enough to make you uncomfortable but still keep it funny. It was originally a hold over from Bruce’s days as a writer with Mark at Saturday Night Live. The writing staff there didn’t like the idea and repeatedly rejected it. Their loss. If I’m not mistaken that is the only time we see that particular border collie in the show, future dogs will be played by a parson terrier mix or for one sketch, Bruce’s actual dog.

I admire the cast’s ability to play the characters they do. Kevin does a convincing if older, teenage/20s girl, Scott is in a comfortable role as the father, Mark plays the mother well (as he will with Gavin’s mother), Bruce plays a convincing creepy old man and Dave shows that not only does he look really young in this first season but he can play a believable kid. The best part of the sketch is I know families like this. Yes, it’s exaggerated for comedy, but I’ve had dinner at homes where the family is this strangely connected.

Also, I really wish parents would be that genuinely happy when their son brings home a “C with promise.”


Lastly, the Elvis sketch, that features not only a live action version of the Charlie Brown dance complete with striped shirts and weird moments but also some spoken word music/poetry from Bruce. If you like this and have the chance to listen to Shame-Based Man (I will continue to plug this, the whole thing is on Youtube) there are more like it there and Drunk Baby Project (his second album). Kevin does a great Elvis impersonation and I giggle at the thought of worried that I’m handing over my rent cheque to an Elvis impersonator. I love that idea! Just imagine your landlord, if you have one or if not that your boss, is a famous person and you have to worry about dealing with impersonators of your boss. Makes you think.

This episode is beginning to push the comedy train along and it’s only five episodes in! As quite a few of you have commented, either here on the blog or to me directly, quite a few of the main characters have already been introduced. We still have to wait for Gavin, the Chicken Lady, and Sir Simon & Hecubus but there’s already been a number of big players and memorable moments brought into the world.

Who are you waiting to be introduced? Did you find the helpful behavior of Mr. Tyzik believable? Leave a comment and tell me what you think of episode five.

Every Thursday is now #KITHursday – put on by the wonderful @rmiriam on twitter.


tally105

Watch on youtube? Please purchase the boxset when you are able. (amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk [NTSC])

Kat in the Hall: 1×04

Season 1, Episode 4
Airdate: Tuesday November 14th, 1989

Watch along on youtube: HERE.

The Sketches

Recurring Characters
NONE!

Review!
The cold open is the strangest yet with Bruce and Scott fighting in a back alley with not bad choreography since I assume they didn’t have that much professional help with it. The fight goes on to end with a look to camera and “Deja vu, eh?” I love how the audience is silent through the fight and doesn’t laugh until the punchline is delivered. Even four episodes in the Kids in the Hall are willing to take the risk of an opening skit that is so off the wall that it garners silence until BAM! the punchline hits. In fact this episode is a good example of how the audience even four episodes into their first season seems to roll with the punches of the strange skits. It’s interesting to note that the audience is laughing in interesting spots throughout this episode, but when they laugh it’s loud, hearty laughter.

The next sketch sometimes called “Apollo the Rude” and other times called “Asshole” features Kevin, Scott and Mark and focuses on how Apollo, Mark’s character, is coming across to Kevin’s character as a complete jerk. Scott’s character is oblivious. It’s interesting how the audience quickly takes Kevin’s character’s side. We’ve all met guys like Mark’s character that seem to us, to be complete jerks but everyone else just ignores or isn’t offended by what they say. When Kevin finally loses it, the audience goes nuts cheering. There’s also some interesting little easter eggs in these episodes in the form of the picture with “Kids in the Hall” written above it on the back wall over Apollo’s shoulder and a green poster for “Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet” next to it. Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet provided the theme tune for the show and acted as the house band during recordings.

When the KITH were playing the Rivoli, one of the things that some of the members felt was important was not reusing material or characters. This meant that even if only five people came to see the show, the material from that week was scrapped and new material was put out the next week. Obviously this is silly and unrealistic for a television show and that’s what makes recurring characters so important. This is the first episode that doesn’t feature recurring characters. This episode does, however, feature the first Bruce song with his trademark repetitive and catchy style. “Daves We Know” also features on his first album Shame Based Man (1995). As Bruce says in the Nerdist interview linked above and repeats it in many other interviews, he thought less of comedy growing up and preferred music. Blending the two seemed the natural progression.

The Country Doctor sketch, a long sketch at almost 7 minutes, is a full cast ensemble (Mark is in the grim reaper outfit) and has a Doctor Who connection! Martha, Kevin’s character says the doctor will arrive after “All Creatures Great and Small” is over and of course Peter Davison played Tristan in that show. As a Whovian I can’t help but play “seven degrees of Doctor Who” whenever possible. Between Dave’s amazingly weird country doctor character and Scott’s great lines as an ill Frank at the beginning “I need to go out and plant the sheep Martha!” we see a properly strange Twilight Zone twist on Little House on the Prairie. Although planting sheep just makes sense, how else do you get a crop of wool if you don’t plant the sheep first? It’s only appropriate to end the sketch with a grim reaper eating the apple pie. Does this mean he got his ‘just desserts’?


Fashion isn’t usually important to me but let’s take a moment to look at what Bruce is wearing. I completely understand this is the 90s, a bit of forgiveness is in order, but when did pants THAT high exist? Recently, Bruce did a Reddit AMA (Ask me Anything) and I couldn’t resist asking a fashion question based mostly on this outfit, what was he thinking?

The screenshot speaks for itself and as an aside, the more I research the Kids in the Hall the more I realize how approachable they all are. With the exception of Kevin, they all have twitter* and regularly interact with fans. Kevin does multiple comedy workshops and works with up-and-coming comedians on writing sketches. In addition, the twitter account @KithOnline offers updates on all the Kids as individuals and as a troupe.

As we didn’t have any recurring characters this episode, what character would you like to see from these sketches in a future Kids in the Hall project? Apollo? Martha and Frank? Leave a comment.


Watch on youtube? Please purchase the boxset when you are able. (amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk [NTSC])

*Bruce: @bruciomcculloch
Scott: @ScottThompson_
Dave: @DaveSFoley
Mark: @mark_dmckinney

Kat in the Hall: 1×03

Season 1, Episode 3
Airdate: Tuesday November 7th, 1989

Watch along on youtube: HERE.

The Sketches

Citizen Kane & Salty Ham sketches can be seen here & here respectively, on the Nerdist channel with interviews with some of the Kids after.

Recurring Characters

Gordon and Fran

Gordon and Fran

Review!
So, first let me start by saying I’m sorry for not getting these out on time. A new position at work and a Supernatural convention kept me from getting the drafts together before now. The last thing I want to do is just throw something out there for the sake of it.

Okay, onto the funny.

I love a short, succinct little skit before the opening titles. Dave’s Gunslinger character is witty but with a dry British sense of humor. We only see him once more in the Running Faggot sketch in a few episodes, so I haven’t bothered to put him as a recurring character. Every time I watch it amazes me that he doesn’t fall off that bike/cart thing, especially as he goes down over the curb. That is probably an apt description of where this episode leaves me, wondering why I don’t love it but glad I don’t hate it. I want to like it but it leaves a strange taste in my mouth worse than the salty ham McCulloch’s character complains about.

Gorilla is a strange sketch, strange even by Kids in the Hall standards. I like the Stooges and Groucho Marx style of comedy, grandiose and over-enunciated but the obvious homage to comedians past seems too put on and unnatural for Foley and Thompson. Am I right in thinking it’s bad Italian or New York accents? Nevertheless, it’s too parody and I think the sketch is flattened even more by the monologue by Kevin at the end. I’m not sure who wrote this, I’m thinking Dave and Kevin but it seems so out in left field that I wonder.

The “Hey Man” sketches; the group heckling Dave’s straight man character, interspersed between the bigger sketches are cute and interesting in black and white. I get the premise but it’s not something that makes me laugh, if you love them tell me why I should, too! One aspect I will admit I love is the costumes for that sketch, seeing them all decked out in rock and punk regalia makes me happy.

Mark’s Contact Lenses monologue is again a little flat but it’s funny. I’m not a huge fan of monologues unless they really pop. I’ve always thought that out of any of the Kids, even moreso than Scott with his Buddy character, Mark does extremely good monologue bits (after all the Headcrusher is almost entirely a monologue with the very occasional “what are you doing?” from passersby) but this character just was a bit one note.

It’s not all lackluster this episode though we have Salty Ham & Citizen Kane.

The first features Bruce and Scott as Gordon and Fran (their son played by Dave will come in later sketches, his picture is by the bed) and the latter is Kevin and Dave. These two sketches seem to cement their writing partnerships in my head. I don’t like to make comparisons between groups but with a set-up like this I can’t help but think of Monty Python. Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin writing together, John Cleese and Graham Chapman writing together and Eric Idle on his own. Just an idle thought though, as unlike Python KITH wrote with different pairings and groups quite often. Many interviews say Kevin wrote with everyone and everyone wanted to write with Kevin, unlike the more staunch set pairings in Python. It had less to do with friendships, although Kevin and Dave were friends, as it did with who made the best writing group for the idea at hand.

Looking at the two sketches we can see how alike they are. One is more character driven but but based on overreacting (Gordon and his ham) versus a narrative driven but overreacting (Citizen Kane). We know almost nothing about Dave and Kevin’s characters other than they’re friends, apparently, and one knows more than the other about movies. The rest is based on the discussion and the stubbornness Dave’s character exhibits. Although we will come to learn more about Gordon and Fran in later episodes, for now we know they are married and Gordon is stubborn. The sheer persistence of their arguments is what makes it funny. I love the repetitive nature of each of the skits, it makes them memorable and quotable. The greatest comedy sketches are simple ones that anyone can replicate like the Python’s Dead Parrot sketches.

Those two are not enough to save the episode, however, and it’s the first of the first part of season 1 that isn’t a home-run.

Gorilla? Hey Man? Citizen Kane? Is this episode lackluster to you or perhaps studded with gems? Leave a comment.


tally103

Watch on youtube? Please purchase the boxset when you are able. (amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk [NTSC])