Kat in the Hall: 1×11

Episode 11: Airdate: Tuesday January 16, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Thirty Helens Return!

Thirty Helens Return!

Danny Husk

Review!
Pickings are slim on the internet today when it comes to videos from this episode. Therefore my gif of Danny Husk (who appears in about a dozen episodes) is still only an image.

Speaking of Attila the Gay German Lover, Mark first had this role in Brian’s Bombshell a little piece performed in the pilot. Not the pilot I reviewed, the full-length pilot. Attila is seen groping Brian (Gordon and Fran’s son) and Brian is rather enjoying it. I’ve always felt bad for Attila in this sketch because let’s be honest Scott’s character is jerk to him. The crying didn’t help either. Excellent dream/flashback sequence that seem to follow Scott wherever he goes. I just assume if there are flashbacks it’s probably Scott having them or it was his idea to have them. Just like the dream linked at the end of this post for #KITHursday.

If you want even more comedy, watch the sketch on Youtube with the auto-generated captions turned on. If you thought Attila couldn’t speak English before…

The first sketch of the episode “Night of the Living Dead” or “Zombies sketch” I’ve seen elsewhere (pretty sure I’ve seen that first title somewhere else) shows the hilarious side of zombies before Shaun of the Dead ever graced our screens. They just keep coming and the people being chased do an awful job at trying to stop them or kill them. This either comes from a deep love of zombie flicks or it’s poking fun at a favourite genre of mine. The makeup/costumes are really good, I wouldn’t say high production value but it’s a step above zombie parody of the time. It’s nice to see the Kids making sure they branch out into all the genres, nothing is safe from humour!

Thirty Helens Agree again, this time they have decreed that coleslaw deserves another chance. Personally, I’m not a fan of the overly mayo’d stuff but a nice vinegar-based coleslaw and we may have a winner. The Helens also turn their collective wisdom to travel and tourism and agree that Hawaii was better before. According to Helen Bryant it’s become very commercial. Good to know.

Dave and Bruce each get monologues in this episode, Dave’s a short and quippy little piece from the Gunslinger and Bruce’s sketch is… well, Bruce-like. If you’ve had a chance to listen to any of Shame Based Man or Drunk Baby Project (his two albums) you know his style and this is a dictionary definition of his style.

“Karen came over to my house and she was drunk. Drunk on love? NO! Drunk on gin! Which is quite different but sorta the same I guess; and, she announced that my job at the student employment center was all hokum and she said that she couldn’t see me anymore because her father had once been mean to her mum.”

The last two sketches are the meaty ones, in my opinion, and they introduce characters we will be seeing again: Danny Husk of A.T. & Love and Idiot Boy. Now, as far as I can remember, Idiot Boy is in one more sketch but Danny is in tons. I would dare say he’s right up there with Buddy for number of appearances. The only difference is Danny Husk can play well with others where Buddy can’t really. The whole “Under Control” Sketch is a good taunting of businessmen and their rigid ways like finishing a business meeting, which clearly is more important than leaving. Few lines speak better to the wordplay in this episode than these ones:

Kevin: “Gentlemen, let’s not panic. There is a bit of an incident a few floors down. The elevators are down and the stairs are… let’s call it ‘inaccessible’. Though I could just as easily say permanently destroyed.”
Everyone else: *panic*
Kevin: “Okay! Okay I’ll keep them inaccessible.”

Lastly, there’s the Barbershop sketch which is a sweet, weird and funny sketch. It’s like homemade apple pie that someone puts a ridiculously fake rubber snake it. You kinda start at it but you know right away it’s fake and instead of beating someone mercilessly because of it, you laugh and plot to get them back. That’s this sketch. Apple pie and rubber snakes.

This episode marks beyond the half-way point for this season and as I rewatch this season I can’t help but marvel at how much the guys haven’t changed. There’s been quite a bit of annoying, rude talk from people lately with KITH all over the news in response to their North American tour, saying how they’ve aged (that’s what people do) and how they don’t look the same as they did as kids. Ignoring the obvious that people do age, no matter what you try to do to avoid it, the guys’ wit is the same here in season 1 as it is now in 2015; 25 years after these shows aired.

Take a minute and let that sink in, then watch this interview with Dave, Bruce and Scott recorded April 24, 2015 on CBC – Studio Q. They haven’t aged a bit.


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

tally111

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

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Kat in the Hall: 1×10

Episode 10: Airdate: Tuesday January 9, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Nobody Likes Us Guys

Nobody Likes Us Guys

Review!

It seems episode nine is a popular episode for TV re-runs and episode ten seems to be popular for Youtube and the Nerdist channel who have three of the sketches from this episode up on their feed with interviews. As always I encourage you to watch the interviews if you’re at all interested in behind the scenes stuff.

Like episode nine, this episode features another technical sketch in two parts with McGuillicutty and Green, then McGuillicutty and Kurosawa. The sketch takes apart the parts of the double act, the ‘straight man’ and the ‘comic’. Often a double act differs in some way, gender or personality, sometimes even social status. Often during one sketch and another the two roles may switch if necessary. The straight man is often humourless and often sets up jokes for his partner to take and run with. This sketch shows what happens if one of those parts (in this case the straight man) doesn’t work on stage or better yet is too humourless. IT also shows how easy it is to switch the roles. Dave plays the straight man and he’s great at it for all the same reasons he was fantastic as the guy who wanted to die in the house he was born in the last episode. This time instead of normal with an edge of twisted, we see a guy who doesn’t quite understand how jokes work or perhaps knows how they work all too well. The twist is we start to laugh at the comic (Kevin) because of his frustrations with, what could be called the “straightest straight man ever.” They also twist and mangle the “Who’s on First” joke by Abbott and Costello in a very Dave way with such an innocent and understanding voice.

Roughly the same is demonstrated in the second sketch with McKinney as Kurosawa, this time playing off ethnicity. I’m not sure the second part was needed and could have just ended with Kevin pulling Dave off-stage in the first one.

Hoopla, aside from being a sorely under used word, brings us back to a whole troupe sketch and Bruce playing the aggressor as the supposed security guard. This sketch isn’t memorable, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I would never say that “Hoopla” is a favourite sketch but when it comes on screen at the beginning of the episode I’m very happy to watch it. It’s quick, it’s clever and shows a more low-key attitude from the Kids (minus Bruce). The guys all look very young here, maybe amplified by the fact that they’re wearing normal clothes and they’re in a sedate setting. The only thing that seems strange to me is that it’s Mark, Kevin and Scott sitting at the table. For some reason I always think Scott is in the getaway car and Dave is at his spot at the table in the diner. It’s an interesting spin on a heist and the fact that it’s salt instead of money he’s stealing just makes it.

The drunk brothers come over at three in the morning and Theresa their sister is the perfect welcome mat for them to walk all over. People like this really exist and maybe that lends to the humour and maybe it’s funny because it’s easy to relate to. This is the sketch that really made me want to jump through the screen and demand better wigs, because the wigs are awful. It’s a strange thing to nitpick about but even for outcasts like the ones Scott and Bruce are playing, that hair just doesn’t suit them. Mark, however, playing Theresa has a fine wig and it’s just the right amount of disheveled for someone who just got woken up early in the morning.

I mean, should we abandon this food, just ’cause it’s fallen through the cracks of so-called, “normal society”?

They make us question what is garbage, maybe even asking us to question our own opinions and beliefs about certain classes of people. Mark shows that he doesn’t need to say a word to get meaning across. He doesn’t say a single word through the whole sketch and yet manages to interact with Bruce and Scott quite easily and push the plot along. The whole sketch is a great lesson in “less is more” for actors.

MacIntyre Name is weird comedy at it’s finest but that’s all I have to say on the matter.

One Step at a Time is… a sketch. I’m sorry I really struggled with finding something I like about this sketch but I can’t seem to find anything. The ending is the truly troublesome bit for me, why is Dave’s character crying? The laughing I understand and Scott’s character crying makes perfect sense given he lost his girlfriend but why is Dave crying? It’s lost on me, feel free to enlighten.

From questionable crying we move to the reappearance of the “Nobody Likes Us” guys and an extremely catchy little song. Go ahead and watch this sketch and then tell me you’re not at least humming the tune. It’s no wonder the bus breaks out into song. I must have watched these out of order the first time around because I swore this sketch was their introduction and the Bank sketch was their second. I think the song makes a great introduction, as much of an introduction as can be had with these two. The story behind the Nobody Likes Us characters that I gave a brief explanation about a post or two ago is nicely summarized by Kevin and Dave in the interview post-sketch I’ve linked above.

Lastly we come to a sketch I’ve wrongly called Blue Moon. Oh, Three for the Moon, you are a perfect stage sketch but do you translate very well for television? I’m not quite sure it does. The sketch was conceived at the Loose Moose in Calgary, Alberta (it’s still operating and only three hours from me by car) when Mark and Bruce were a part of the Audience, the troupe they had before they became part of the Kids in the Hall. It was a staple sketch and was enhanced by the available lighting setup where they could achieve a blue wash. I’m not sure TV can replicate that and it looks nice but it’s lacking some of that theatrical charm. The sketch is focused around first Mark and then Bruce’s poetry about the moon, landing on Dave who somehow, in a very “Dave way” as Mark says, squeaks through with a comment about who owns the moon. Heavy, man. Mark really shines in this sketch taking on a French poet-esque character with rather impressive ear jewelry to boot. I like the contrast between each character, romantic and free spirit to aggressive and political to Dave who doesn’t seem to fit in at all with his normal clothes. Whether they meant to or not it’s a nice message about uniting under the same thing.

This is the first episode so far that has had some highs and lows in it for me. Let me know what you think!

Next post on Thursday brings us episode 11 and to the halfway mark of season 1! We’ll meet more of the staff at A.T & Love, Danny Husk returns and more Helens!


tally110

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

Kat in the Hall: 1×09

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:

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])