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Episode 20: Airdate: Tuesday May 15, 1990

The Sketches

That’s the full episode, the source I usually use didn’t have the last episode uploaded so I took matters into my own hands.

Recurring Characters

Thirty Helens!

Thirty Helens!

Nobody Likes Us Guys

Nobody Likes Us Guys

Buddy Cole

Buddy Cole

Nina Spudkneeyak

Review!

Warning: this review will have copious use of the “F-Word” so hide if that word bothers you. Or just read it anyway.

The episode starts as a good episode should, with a musical act done in bathrobes about a fat man across the road who sucks on his toes. With the scuzzy looking apartment (clean by this show’s standards) and the less than immaculate housecoats I’m guessing Mark and Kevin’s characters are slobbish jobless bachelors or perhaps older college students. How they could get anything done when they spend so much time watching the neighbours with their telescope? This makes the grime even more realistic. The sketch is over the top even before the first words are uttered, which bear the vaudeville undertones of a good double act. A double act that the Kids have mimicked and mocked before. The tune is simple but catchy and reeks of the kind of musical improv I’m learning about in my improv classes. Keep simple lines and repeat for maximum effect. I wonder how much of this is based on a couple lines that one of the guys might have come up with and then it spun off into a full length sketch. This piece also contains live material mixed in with the small piece of film material (of the fat man across the road). I know I sound like a broken record here but the show is beginning to take shape into what it will become in later seasons. The sketch ends with Mark playing with a fire extinguisher, he genuinely looks like he’s having fun and Kevin running around the table occasionally being sprayed by it.

That’s the cold open and now after the title sequence we move to a nice, clean cut home with two couples. One of the couples will be shown again and Randy and Stu played by Kevin and Bruce will become a couple played by Kevin and Dave. Mark’s character of Nina will show up many more times and has already been shown as the Joymakers lady who helps to plan parties. This time they are here to celebrate an anniversary and learn (through flashbacks) how Stu and Randy met. This sketch shows that you don’t need weird and wacky right away, you can build on a simple premise and just introduce a few wacky or slightly off-key elements. Maybe a couple really did meet at a pie-eating contest, it’s not that wacky, but meeting at a public hanging in the 90s in Canada is a bit over the top. Mark’s Gunther character reminds me of Darrill whether this is accidental or not. Mark seems to often play the “old country” characters as does Bruce. Scott also gets a good chance to stretch his legs as the low-key straight man.

Sidenote: If you watched the pilot you’ll recognize Dave’s character as the overly sensitive guy who couldn’t keep a girlfriend because of his constant crying.

The other aspect that is noteworthy is the abundance of necking (making out) in this sketch. There doesn’t seem to be any “fake” stage kissing and the Kids have mentioned in interviews that a guy kissing a guy, in drag or otherwise, didn’t bother any of them. That kind of confidence shows through here, after all its just acting, sometimes covered-in-blueberry-pie-filling acting but acting nonetheless.

The Helens are back and they are spouting true wisdom! There is definitely a time and a place to show photos of your kids, never to me and nowhere around me. Then again I say that but we all know people are polite and considerate creatures and they’ll still put up with me flashing pictures of my cat Pepsi at any given opportunity.

Maybe I should be less of a hypocrite.

Maybe I should be less of a hypocrite.

Next, Bruce delivers a monologue entitled “Bank People” on the DVDs and “Fuck the Bank” by fansites. I much prefer the latter, it highlights the rather punk rock attitude the entire thing embodies. Bruce plays a guy who works in a bank and clearly hates his job and the people he needs to deal with on a day to day basis. He mocks the guy whose signature is degrading, the people on welfare who hobble in to cash their cheques and the old women who depend on the bank’s services. Anyone who works in the service industry knows these kinds of people and knows people like Bruce’s character who work in the industry and shouldn’t. A job is a job though but working at a bank is as close to “working for the man” as you can get without actually becoming a police officer or an elected official. The whole thing is full of witty little lines (we expect that from Bruce) some musical interludes where I once again point out the lack of dance ability in the troupe, and a backdrop straight out of the 80s. I don’t remember any place having any drink, “bottomless” or not for 25 cents in the 90s.

brucefthebank

I like how this episode seems to drift back and forth between lower class, as low as the bachelors apartment in the first sketch to the low/middle class diner to more higher-end fancier backgrounds. Ok, the sketch with the “Nobody Likes Us” guys is set in the Keg (you can see the name of the restaurant in the door behind the woman’s shoulder) but it’s higher end-ish. In the “Nobody Likes Us” Guys are trying to impress with a double date that only has one lady to two guys. That lady is played by Deborah Theaker, an amazing Canadian actress who was not only a member of Second City in Toronto but also played Bruce and Mark’s parts with the Kids in the Hall while they were off galavanting with Saturday Night Live as writers. On IMDB one of the trivia facts mentions that during her time in Second City at one point the whole cast left her onstage alone and Scott Thompson stapled the curtains shut. This sketch is almost as frightening as the Guys perform bad magic and gross out the audience with a fake liver. I can only assume the fake liver is grape jello, just the right texture to wiggle and wobble while still being edible. I’ll admit that part of the sketch does squick me out a little bit. If my memory serves, this will be the last sketch with these two guys and what a way to go out.

Speaking of out, we move onto Buddy Cole and his sketch about being Canadian. Point me in the direction of another sketch that emphasizes how amazing Canadians are. Now point directly to a gay sketch about being Canadian.

“On my resume, my agent replaced the word gay with blond, and Canadian with outdoorsy. So I replaced outdoorsy with blousy. Which makes me a blousy blond.”

I’ll come right out and say it, I may have said it already, I’m not the biggest fan of Buddy Cole. I can appreciate why it’s funny and clever and why it was important to have a character like that. This sketch embodies all the good things and puts them together in a nice 4-minute package. Canadians need to be more proud about where they’re from instead of finding ways around admitting their Canadian. I’m sure there’s a lot more Scott Thompson truth in this Buddy sketch as well, Scott admitting the lack of good films shot or portrayed by Canadians, playing the best friend role and being mistaken as an American being like being mistaken as straight. The default shouldn’t be New York if you’re an entertainer and the default shouldn’t be straight. The way he ends the sketch with a little pout at camera after blowing his nose on a Canadian flag? Perfect. It’s just a piece of material people, not a magical blanket or anything.

Speaking of magical, that describes the transformation from Kevin McDonald to Buddy Holly or The Real Buddy Holly as some have dubbed the sketch.

See?

See?

While the swearing may or may not be entirely accurate, the basic facts of Buddy, Ritchie (played by Bellini) and the Big Bopper dying in a plane crash are true. There is even a theory that Buddy let his monkey fly the plane at one point. This hasn’t been proven of course, but it gives the sketch another level of something that lends itself well to comedy fodder. I know of the story, I know some of his work but largely what I know about Buddy Holly I know from sketches and stories and pop culture references. I will say Kevin does a fantastic job looking the part and a line uttered in this sketch is a very often quoted line from Season 1 of Kids in the Hall. “I’m fuckin’ Buddy Holly! That’s who I am!”

Helens again with more words of wisdom: Just like the Kids in the Hall, there’s no need to pick your favourite Helen. Do we really need a favourite Kid? (Yes.)

Now, here’s where things differ. Due to censors differences, let us say, if you had watched every episode of Kids in the Hall on Comedy Network or Comedy Central you probably wouldn’t have seen the last sketch of season 1 or a few other sketches sprinkled here and there in the five years the show was on. You also would have seen a few things in a different order. That’s why I go by the DVD release, just to establish a baseline. So some people may not be aware of this sketch at all unless you own the boxset. I happened upon it watching one of the live performances that had been posted to Youtube. They recreate this sketch for the stage, with a few differences in costume and who speaks which parts. The basic premise is the same. This sketch is Dr. Seuss Bible, where they retell the story of Jesus in a Dr. Seuss rhyming kind of way. Scott plays Jesus, Dave plays the storyteller, and Mark, Bruce and Kevin fill in all the other parts. Now this sketch was considered controversial to say the least just based on the subject material. The Kids do a good job trying to tone down that controversy, after all Scott plays Jesus straight and without any silly lines. They also decided to have him play the crucifixion straight and act like the nails actually hurt. In the live tour he goes over the top with how much they hurt but in the TV version he plays it painful but low-key.

Oh noes! Religious iconography!

Oh noes! Religious iconography!

In order to have a crucifixion, however, they needed to have a Seuss-style machine to do the crucifying. The creation of the crucifixion machine was the hardest part of this entire sketch. Bruce talks about in his book “Let’s Start a Riot” but essentially the people who made props for the CBC wouldn’t make the machine. To an atheist such as myself I don’t get what the big deal is but I suppose some could construe it as blasphemy. It had to be made by an outside crew and then brought into the CBC. Bruce would later take the prop home after the first season and leave it in the home of a woman he lived with. In all, the sketch is funny, clever with some great set design and creative ideas.

That’s season one. The show would technically be cancelled after that episode and then picked up again later on for season two. Season one took thirteen months to write and film so the Kids had to take a step back and reorganize to make another season that actually fit into a season length of television. We now know what the Kids are capable of and how their ideas and concepts can be brought to life on screen with some interesting direction. Most of the Kids were beginning to understand how cameras could be used to make things funnier and how they could play things up to them. There were still fights, disagreements and misunderstandings going on with the troupe but they settled things for filming. From here, we’re onto season two and the introduction of some of the most iconic characters.

If you have suggestions, ideas, concepts, things you’d like to see on this blog or just want to say how much you love Kids in the Hall, leave a comment! Also, I’ve been debating whether to move this to another blog all its own. Opinions?


tally120

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

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