Episode 6: Airdate: Tuesday December 5, 1989
- Thirty Helens Agree #1
- Bored Robber
- Running Faggot
- Thirty Helens Agree #2 (Twenty Nine Helens Agree)
- Can I Keep Him? – On the Nerdist channel with an interview with Bruce & Mark.
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.
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.
“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.
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.