Season 1, Episode 1
Airdate: Tuesday October 24th, 1989
- Simultaneous Phone Calls
- The Eradicator
- Ballet School
- Headcrusher: Wall Street
- The Cause of Cancer
- Pear Dream
- Kathie the Mean Mistreater
- Headcrusher: The Kid
Where the pilot episode held some unfinished edges, this episode feels a bit more concise and put together. The cold open features Scott and Mark as Tiffany and Tabitha beginning a KITH tradition of dressing as women, not as a joke but simply to show female characters. Unlike Monty Python or Saturday Night Live the show isn’t big on playing women just for laughs, they play them like their mothers, sisters, friends and teachers. Kathie is a great example of this. The laughs don’t come from the fact that it’s Bruce dressed as a woman, it’s the banter between her and Mississippi Gary that’s funny. In fact, I would argue that Kathie is a far more interesting and in-depth female character than a lot of sitcoms have.
Now Mississippi Gary is a bit of a weird point. This is Mark McKinney playing in blackface, which I don’t agree with. It’s racist, I won’t apologize for it or say that “this was a different time” because it’s the 90’s and he’s still playing in blackface. At the same time I know that the character of Mississippi Gary will not always be played that way, they’ll drop that schtick and part of the joke will be that he’s just a white guy from Vermont. That doesn’t make it okay, it’s still a boring sketch with a couple of clever lines. While it’s not my favourite sketch and I feel like it’s a weak point in the episode, the dynamic between Gary and Kathie is clever and there’s some good harmonica playing and backing guitar.
The Eradicator is a Bruce sketch, properly weird and full of great one liners that I urge everyone to put into their day-to-day life.
The two Headcrusher sketches start to flesh out a character that doesn’t need fleshing out at all. Mark has said in different interviews that he kept writing more story for the character even though all that was needed was ten or twenty seconds of material. Once you get the idea behind the Headcrusher anything else is just gravy. His “gag” is something we can easily imitate, it’s just a wonderful play on perspective. I think he would be an excellent Doctor Who villain, turning the world into flat heads and sparing only the occasional child who dislikes businessmen like he does.
The Pear Dream sketch is something I just can’t wrap my brain around. I don’t know whether to dislike the artsy feel of it or applaud the guts it takes to make something funny like that in such a unique style. It’s not a traditionally funny sketch either, it’s strange and a little unnerving. The first time I saw it I didn’t know where the “hook” or twist was going to come from. Either way we see Scott flexing the acting muscles he came to the troupe with even acting against a pear on a pillow.
So, what did you think? Are there any lines from this episode you find yourself quoting? Leave a comment! More Kat in the Hall on Monday!