Episode 15: Airdate: Tuesday April 10, 1990
- Death Row
- White Guy (Wannabe Blues man)
- Crazy Love
- Buddy’s Island
- Captain Alan
- The Mechanic
- On the Nerdist: Baby
The episode leads off with Death Row, a sketch that earned itself a fan favourites commentary on the special features of the first season DVD. It’s not a very long commentary but it does mention the fact that Mark is playing Melanie with braces for the first time. As far as I could tell she is the only named character in this sketch, Kevin may be playing a version of one of his later characters but I couldn’t find a name for her. Scott is in the sketch too, a picture of him behind bars is held up by Bruce, described as the guy “with the unpredictable smile.” The whole sketch reminds me the slumber party from the movie Grease, if smaller and more high school production. It’s shot from only a couple angles and this works well for it. It also makes the characters seem younger, given Dave (the youngest) is 27 in this sketch and he still seems so much younger.
Remember how I talked about Mississippi Gary, blackface and my dislike of the sketch and the character? Well “White Guy” is sort of his origin story. The character is no longer in blackface and switches between his normal way of speaking, a rather rich sounding American accent and the put on accent of a Southern blues musician. In the stage production Vermont will be changed to Ontario. I love the lighting, atmosphere and the music in this sketch and the way the character gets into the music. I’m not the biggest Blues fan but I like a bit of it and when Joe Cocker died in 2014 I saw a few articles (like this one) remembering him. In these articles talk eventually shifting to appropriation and appreciation and looking at the differences. Ten years after this sketch aired the Onion hit the nail on the head with this article: Affluent White Man Enjoys the Blues and Causes the Blues. The Kids in the Hall have brought up topics that are still just as topical now as they were in 1990.
Speaking of topical… Bruce and Dave are two rich suave guys straight out of a film noir that probably get coated in more alcohol than they drink. It’s a simple sketch, made simpler by the PITCHER of martinis the woman pours (yes, I know it’s water doubling for gin/vodka but in a pitcher? Where is this mysterious place I can buy martinis by the pitcher?!) Simple and a good example of a comedy duo switching the straight man role back and forth as necessary between themselves. In my opinion, Dave and Bruce are the best of the Kids when it comes to making talking funny so this whole thing plays to their strengths. When Dave asks rhetorically if it’s a crime to love all women and Bruce says, rather deadpan, that yes it is in some places, Dave’s surprised and slightly worried expression is great. I think because they are both a bit pitiful it makes sense to have a woman bartender, which neither of them even look at the entire sketch. When Dave’s martini is poured at the beginning, keep an eye at how he doesn’t even acknowledge her as he sticks the glass backward for her to put the olive in. They “love” all women except the ones pouring drinks, eh? Splashing each other with drinks in a great closer perhaps indicating they’re both horrible people. Watch the end of the sketch as the audience is applauding, you can see Bruce say “I was a little high wasn’t I?” referring to his drink throw and Dave grins and nods with, “a little high.”
Buddy’s back! Have you missed him?
This time he’s only momentarily in his bar setting before being whisked away. This sketch we’re treated to some desert island Buddy, complete with fake seaweed on his head with Oscar Wilde. I encourage you to read up on Oscar Wilde and why this sketch works so well and how they wouldn’t be able to stand each other for more than ten minutes. While you’re at it, find a copy of Stephen Fry playing Wilde in the movie “Wilde”, it has Jude Law and Orlando Bloom in it. (Have a trailer.) Otherwise this sketch is Buddy being sassy with a historical character and not much more is necessary.
Captain Alan, aka Mark pretending to be a cop shows Scott as an actual police officer and Kevin as a lady’s man. One of these things doesn’t happen often in Kids in the Hall. I like the little twist at the end following the long and drawn-out “secret handshake” as it would have been a lot easier to just have the cop apologize, maybe salute and fall for his trick.
Seeing a sketch title like “The Mechanic” should bring about any number of comedic thoughts. Seeing that Kevin is the lead in this sketch, all those thoughts should go out the window because you can be pretty sure that whatever you’ve thought is tame comparatively. In truth, however, the tough, manly mechanic with the golden locks isn’t THAT weird. What’s weird is how normal it’s treated by the other guys in the shop. This sketch shoves aside all the typical stereotypes of a car shop and turns them on their head. This is the way we would want our fellow employees to treat our decisions. Clearly he’s given the go ahead in the combing decision, as he refers to his hair as the “shops” hair but he’s not treated any differently. Why is that funny? His decision to turn down Vogue magazine is also funny, but why is it funny? Is this another sketch that is just funny on the surface, and as you dig into it you realize there’s a serious message there as well? How dare they make comments about society?
Additional things to point out:
1. Dave isn’t in this sketch, maybe because he is the cute/young/pretty one?
2. Kevin’s choice in accents for this is great.
3. I love the polaroid-style glamour shots at the end.
The last sketch is, I’m sure, every parent’s nightmare as curious stranger becomes crazy stranger. I struggle with what to write about this sketch because it’s good and there aren’t any huge failings that I can exploit for words. The wigs are okay, Dave’s is particularly good and one that I believe is reused for a couple of his characters later on. I’m unsure who the driving force behind the sketch is, it’s an absurd idea grounded in reality so it could be anyone’s idea or a group effort. The normal idea behind it has always bugged me. I’ve always felt people stopping to look at other babies is weird, only slightly weirder than people who feel the need to stop someone walking a dog and ask to pet it. Dave’s character is good enough to keep her purse in a way that lessens the chances of it being taken but she lets just anyone poke around her baby? Strange world. The best parts are the dry lines at the end between Mark and Bruce:
Bruce: I don’t think we’ll ever have a baby.
Mark: It’s God’s will.
Bruce: I feel empty.
Mark: You are.
It’s not really funny at all, it’s sad but we laugh. It’s a nice contrast to the silliness of asking how many miles are on a baby or if it leaks or anything.
Next episode the Helens are back and we also check in with the Secretaries and the new guy in the office.