Episode 17: Airdate: Tuesday April 24, 1990
Hey! There’s a spider on your back!
If you saw that and only that on a page would you try to brush a spider off like they do in the sketch? It’s unlikely you would for a paper version but I think an audiobook might be enough to elicit a response. Yet in the show this new book is groundbreaking and we want to know why everyone is buying into this phenomenon. It’s a trick, a gimmick and that’s something that hasn’t changed since 1990. For this world that’s the new way you write a horror book and that’s one of the reasons this episode is fantastic. The devotion to the created world. A commenter on the IMDB page for this episode says it’s the quintessential episode to show what Kids in the Hall is all about. It’s true. This episode has a good blend of sketches, it shows how well they do absurd humour, they make fun of comedy sketches in a comedy sketch and while it doesn’t introduce Headcrusher you can see exactly what the character is all about. I had always thought Chicken Lady was the most well-known Kids in the Hall character but after talking with coworkers and friends about the live show, it seemed Headcrusher has that honour.
Dracula, aka After the Hockey Game is another (could be) controversial sketch. When the main character is called Leslie the Vampire Fag there’s bound to be a bit of eyebrow raising from certain groups and rightfully so. Scott begins his reign as Brad, a hockey loving hoser who keeps getting picked up by guys who want to have sex with him after taking him to a hockey game. The best part of the sketch is the fact that Brad doesn’t care that Leslie is a vampire. That part (that can get him killed) isn’t important. It shows the idiocy of caring if someone is gay so much they ignore something that is actually life threatening. It also mocks with the idea that this has happened multiple times and Brad still doesn’t understand what’s going on.
Any well-written sketch has a good chance at being funny but what if the sketch isn’t well-written, and is in fact missing vital parts? We all get stuck at a punchline, whether we write comedy or we’re just retelling a funny joke we heard, but do we really need one? Are punchlines necessary? The Middle twists attention and focuses it on the writing of the sketch, while at the same time using that as the material for the sketch. Wow, that sentence is confusing. It’s no wonder Kevin is involved in this, after all he teaches all those workshops now.
Oh wonderful Head crusher. This sketch spoke to me the first time I saw it. First, we have the Head Crusher interacting with someone other than to crush their head. Second, I always wondered as a kid what would happen if someone got a taxi, got out of the taxi and then ran inside and refused to pay. Could the driver chase you inside? Could he call the police? Nice to see the Kids had the same idea and even smartened it up with Mr. Tyzic. I disagree with the title though, that’s not his girlfriend; not in a romantic sense. I’m firmly of the headcanon that Tyzic has one true love and that’s Lorelei, the maybe woman he talks about in Tour of Duty that may or may not be the same character Kevin plays in that same sketch.
Now it’s Dave’s turn and we start to see what will become a rather obvious penchant for playing blood soaked and/or killer characters. Mass Murderer is a tame sketch compared to the equally horrific sounding Axe to Grind. From what he says, in this sketch he prefers a cutting implement and mentions a chainsaw and in a later sketch he brandishes an axe. The best part of this is you can easily start to feel sorry for the guy. We often see, whether in comedy or drama, although almost always the latter, but never stopping to reflect. He seems like a real person and it’s creepy! It’s like someone said, “Ok, let’s do a sketch about a mass murderer but we will never mention the ethics of killing a vast number of people. Just the strain, physically, it would take on a person. Combine that with Dave and his wide-eyed look and it’s funny but eerie at the same time. I’ve always found Dave played creepy the best, it’s that innocent face and seemingly soft demeanor. He looks like a kid and therefore, surely nothing bad can come from him. Children of the corn, people.
“It’s like what happened the other day. I – I had just finished ending a human life in a senseless act of violence, when I run into this old friend of mine from high school, and he says, “Hey, whatcha been doin?” And I think to myself, ‘What have I been doing? What am I doing with my life? Where is this leading? Am I going to be doing this at 50?'”
Vaudeville. I’ve never been hooked by the comedy that came from Vaudeville acts but I love that it inspired so many and gave the foundation for a lot of comedy acts. I’ll admit when I’m having a bad day some Burns and Allen, Buster Keaton or sometimes The Marx Brothers can be a nice change of pace. Kevin and Dave, however, loved these comedy greats and were doing their kind of shtick when Bruce and Mark met them in Toronto so it doesn’t surprise me that Kevin is in this sketch. I can’t do justice to it trying to explain it with words, watch the sketch and look at their delivery and the quick changes in emotion.
Kevin in drag. Has anyone ever argued that Kevin is the second most attractive Kid while in drag? (Dave is obviously the first, everyone knows that). If you do think that he is, feel free to leave a comment why but I’d argue that, like they mention in the commentary for Death Comes to Town, Kevin never plays the sexy characters. There’s an attempt at it with Rudy, the John for the hookers that we’ll see next season but really Kevin tends to play the mildly ditzy women with big poofy hair. He’s characters are always fantastic but he doesn’t play women like the other guys play. He doesn’t in this sketch either but that’s okay because he instead plays a great Ricki Lake/Sally Jessy Raphael-type talk show host. Even the theme tune is irritatingly catchy.
Darcy, Darcy, Darcy Pennell
She makes the whole day feel real swell
Darcy, Darcy, Darcy Pennell
She makes your life a lot less hell
Not only do we get a great host, we get a great irritating French fashion designer by the name of Christian Renoir and Brad is back to exact revenge on one of the guys who took him to a hockey game.
I know everyone can understand what the guys are mocking here but it’s so damn refreshing to see it mocked. IF you have ever watched a runway show you know that most fashion, especially couture or high fashion isn’t for the normal, everyday person. It’s rare to find a fashion designer that even seems to like or know what a normal person is, let alone “ugly” people. It’s a great tie-in from earlier and wraps a great episode up neatly.
Well, what do you think? Could this be a perfect episode to show a new Kids in the Hall watcher? Recommendations?
Next time it’s episode 18, we’re nearing the end of season 1!