Eklund Editorials: Rene Desjardins – Intelligence

I have a spreadsheet that contains everything Michael Eklund has acted in and my goal is to watch all of it and blog about it along the way. There will be spoilers.

Organized crime and the Organized Crime Unit (OCU) work together to achieve the opposing goals of each respective world. 19 episodes

I watched both seasons of this show not just Eklund’s episodes, it’s a very compelling drama that was cancelled too soon, but I still had to look up the description for his character on the wiki. Rene Desjardins appears throughout the show often in short little appearances of a couple minutes to give information to Jim Reardon (the “bad” guy) or one of his associates. In the pilot we hear that Rene and Reardon have had a relationship going for a while with Reardon keeping Rene from getting fired and in exchange Rene has been doing them favours such as running plates. Rene turns on a dime when Jim Reardon brings this up.

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He acts like more of a plot device/plot explanation than an actual living, breathing character. If you’re asking yourself “how will either side know this obscure, but entirely necessary fact?” It’s either Rene has told them or is about to tell them. It’s not until the last episode of season 1 that we even see where he lives! (There was a brief time I thought he just lived out of his car). We also learn he has a cat, (aww!) that we never see or hear about again.

So who is Rene Desjardins? From the Intelligence wiki:

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Star Trek TOS – A Change of Opinion

I’m think I’m starting to become known as somewhat of a contrarian.

That may be an understatement. I don’t usually set out to be seen that way, but it often happens. I enjoy not seeing something because everyone is recommending it. I generally end up seeing things in the wrong order and as is often the case I prefer the first thing I see.  I’m trying to break out of this pattern though, it’s one of my resolutions for 2016, and while there’s no way to see certain series in the correct order I’m trying to give the “originals” a chance. That’s why I started at the beginning of Star Trek: The Original Series and currently sit somewhere around the middle of season two. I’m really, really enjoying it, so why is this a problem? Well…

I was recently on Star Trek: Romulans Bearing Gifts talking and thinking about the newest Star Trek reboot movie Star Trek Beyond. During that discussion I said that I preferred the reboot cast to the original cast. I said it was difficult for me to connect to the original series and my Kirk and crew would always be Chris Pine, Quinto, Pegg, etc, etc. Just like my Captain will always be Picard, my Doctor is the Fifth, and my preferred Obi-Wan will always be played by Ewan McGregor. So, here comes an admission of guilt of sorts: I said that knowing full well that I had seen maybe six episodes total of the original series. That includes the pilot and the Trouble with Tribbles. It was a blanket statement and a hasty one at that. Opinions can change sure, and you never have to see everything to make a decision, but now I’m stuck in a strange circumstance where it seems like I’ve totally changed my mind about something. I haven’t changed my mind; it was never really made up in the first place. Ugh.

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It’s a potential peril of podcasting, I guess, especially with group reviews, where you find yourself maybe agreeing a little bit more, or disagreeing simply to freshen up a conversation and actually bring in some discussion. I’m sure many, many podcasters are completely honest, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stretching a review here or there. If you haven’t listened to the episode I still recommend it, just take what I say in it with a grain of salt. In fact, always take what I say with a grain of salt and that way I won’t feel the need to write any more of these. What follows are more, let’s say, informed opinions (from 2.5 seasons of the show) on the reboots vs TOS. More informed than before, less informed than any proper Star Trek fan.

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Kat in the Hall: 2×01

Episode 1 - The Hard Day

Episode 1 – The Hard Day

It took the Kids in the Hall thirteen months to write and record season one. It took two months for me to starting writing season two of Kat in the Hall after finishing season one. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get on with it!

Sorry, wrong show!

Sketches:
Spring (video includes the opening titles)
Comfortable
Trucker #2
Hard Day
Off Swingin’ aka (Bim Bam Baby)
The Doctor
Bobby and the Devil

Recurring Characters:
Nina Spudkneeyak, Bobby’s Parents, Bobby

Review:
Season two starts with a nice Scott monologue complete with edgy twist. The twist and a decent size pile of mannequins make this funny and all in 38 seconds. Spring is short and a little dark, just like the season. It’s an excellent cold open, drawing people in and giving them a taste of Kids in the Hall.

Taste of Kids in the Hall like this?

comfortable

In my review of the live show, months ago, I mentioned a sketch called Comfortable and the rendition done on stage differing here and there from the filmed version. The interview after the Nerdist version actually discusses how some sketches are succeed in one medium over the other. Namely, live lends itself to shenanigans. Such as that Scott trying his best to break every table that he had Kevin on. At least once he succeeded and when I saw them in Edmonton the table did jump towards the front of the stage. The filmed version setting doesn’t achieve the same level of raunchy hilarity that the stage version obtains. The director explicitly told Kevin and Scott not to draw too much attention away from Dave and Mark. That must have been really hard to do! The comedy comes with the nonchalant way Dave’s character is reacting to Scott’s character’s having sex with his wife. This is a great example of a sketch that even today gets big laughs perhaps because of how our view of sex changed from the ’90s.

The humor isn’t just the physical comedy though, it’s also in the word play and the way the characters treat each other. We can identify (to an extent!) with the way good friends act around each other that they wouldn’t do with acquaintances. They also may make lewder or less “PC” jokes. Dave’s joke of “the Salad Years” may be misconstrued as harsh but putting aside the fact that political correctness was not where it is now, Dave’s character was the guy in the coma! The glee when it says it is cute! Moral of this sketch is everyone is touchy about a different subject.

trucker2Mark is back in this little piece playing Bobby Terrence’s father at his trucking company. (We’ll see him again at the end of the episode talking about salt and flavour.) It’s a great little sketch and one that would work wonderfully in a variety show.It reminds me of the Parrot Sketch in parts because of the repetition and it being as memorable after you see it. It’s easy to learn and could be easily mimicked. Mark shows us that he truly has exceptional phone skills and gives me the impression that this was written by Bruce; I could be wrong.

Hard Day has all the elements for great comedy: bad Sci-Fi, models of planets, Kevin in a great costume and Dave wearing a bowtie. The fact that I believe Dave is an alien despite what he is wearing shows that a) I will believe things if you give me a reason to and b) I love Doctor Who.

Dave knew bowties were cool way before the Eleventh Doctor declared it.

The whole sketch starts with a discussion about tying bowties and Delfar 7’s (Dave) paranoia reaching a level where he believes he’s been compromised. I enjoy the fact that Scott has such a poorly tied neck tie and is so calm during the whole thing, it’s a nice contrast.

This contrast is replaced by Kevin’s snarky leader type of character and Kevin plays him very well. I wasn’t exactly sure if the character was supposed to be Dave’s boss or equal to him in status. Rewatching it, Kevin says he hired Dave but Dave definitely isn’t acting like an employee.

Costume and set are great, very typical sci-fi. The plastic sheets to replace paper is a bit much but it’s a nice choice to show they weren’t just going to call everything Space-thing. I imagine budget didn’t allow for futuristic computers and screens.

Off Swingin’ aka the Best Looking Man in the world is… well, watch it and see for yourself. On a commentary for the sketch someone mentions that the guy featured in that sketch really didn’t get work after it. It’s a great little sketch and one that is pure outlandish comedy that doesn’t need to say a word (other than the song) to get you laughing. Fair warning, the song is a horrible ear worm.

davedoctor This episode is chock full of monologues and one person pieces and Dave doesn’t disappoint. The doctor is one of my favourite pieces just because the entire thing is performed as though Dave could, at any moment, burst into laughter about the whole situation. It should also be noted that the blood on Dave’s face mask is on the wrong side. This is mentioned in a commentary and I will note it again. Maybe Dave is such a bad doctor that he gets blood on his side of the mask or it’s just an error. The sketch plays out like an improv piece, with someone suggesting “the worst doctor” as an occupation.

bobbyvdevilLast, but not least, we have Bobby and the Devil. This is the only Bruce sketch of the episode and Bobby Terrance pulls no punches! He may not want to take the garbage out but he can play the opening of Smoke on the Water with his eyes closed. The idea behind this piece is very simple and it’s explained in the sketch how it’s like David vs Goliath. It’s treated seriously but with a wink and a nod. Bobby clearly isn’t that good, it’s all in his head, but he commits to it and if there’s any doubt he doesn’t show it. Mark plays a great Devil and he’ll reprise that role later on and in the movie Brain Candy.

My first thought after seeing this was, this sketch reminds me of “Tribute” by Tenacious D who battles the Devil through rock.

However, that song came out in 2001 and this sketch came out in 1990 so I’m wondering if some inspiration leaked into band’s brains via Canadian comedy…

To sum it up, this is a great episode and a wonderful beginning to the second season. We’re seeing a little more maturity (in a format way) from all the guys and this can only get better as the season goes on.

tally201

Kat in the Hall: 1×17

Episode 17: Airdate: Tuesday April 24, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Headcrusher

Headcrusher

Brad

Leslie the Vampire Fag

Review!

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
Darcy!

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.

For the Ugly Woman.

For the Ugly Woman to highlight her ugliness.

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!


tally117

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

Kat in the Hall: 1×16

Episode 16: Airdate: Tuesday April 17, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Thirty Helens!

Thirty Helens!

Review!

First of all, I want to say thanks to everyone who has been liking and commenting and reblogging thus far. You’ve all been a huge boost to my writer’s ego and helping me keep up this project even when I’ve not wanted to update or even look at a computer. Good news! Tomorrow I get to see Kids in the Hall live AND thanks to some quick ticket buying I snagged VIP tickets and get to meet the Kids after the show! Yes, I will try to get pictures.

Now on with your regularly scheduled review…

This is a fantastic episode and one that brings together Rivoli-esque sketches staged with minimalistic backgrounds (Is He? and Manny Coon) with more beat poetry Bruce or maybe Mark sketches like Bass Player. We still haven’t seen a full length film piece, and with the Thirty Helens the Kids are starting to play with film, format, and the cameras.

“How did this happen?” is a great reveal gag, letting your mind ponder the possibilities of what might have happened long before you actually get to see the end result. Mark, one of the best character actors emotes well and I would love to see the reason behind this. To be fair the title of the sketch is the same question that the audience should be asking themselves when they see his predicament.

“The mother, the father, the serpent, the priest. The foreman, the woman, the widow, the beast…”

The Secretaries are in my top 5 ensembles that the troupe plays. Seeing Bruce and Scott play off each other, something that doesn’t happen nearly enough, is always a treat but then you add in Mark as the annoying Tanya and Kevin as another secretary to round off the group. At this point Dave isn’t playing his boss figure like he was in the earlier sketch but steps in as Howard, the new to the office guy whom all the girls are talking about. This is a sketch that was done bigger and better on the stage, it’s featured in the documentary “Same Guys, New Dresses”, that shows the troupe behind-the-scenes. They continue asking if Dave’s character is gay or not, making up more and more outrageous and foolish names for heterosexual and homosexual. This brings us to a question: is this sketch offensive? I’ll admit some of the names they come up with for the stage show were risque but this seems like G-rating material comparatively. Both Cathy and Kathie seem to know that it doesn’t matter if Howard is gay and even make a point of acknowledging that fact. It’s human nature to want people and to hope that they are compatible with you if you find them desirable, demanding or expecting them to change is not. I think this sketch does a great job of showing both sides of that.

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From Cathy to Manny Coon, Scott flips a switch and goes from a female secretary to a lecherous old painter man. The whole sketch is a monologue, the focus is on Scott but it’s interesting to watch the subtle reactions of the older people sitting behind him throughout. I like to think they aren’t actors, that they’ve just hijacked some university’s graduation ceremony and run with it.

Now my favourite sketch of this episode: “Bass Player.” If we set aside the fact that bass players aren’t the least favourite member of a band; drummers are, we have a catchy little sketch that has Kevin doing a great bit of beat poetry and Bruce playing what I can only assume is the three chords he knows how to play on a bass. It’s interesting they had Bruce playing given Dave is the only one of the troupe that can properly play guitar. Bruce mentions in his book that he picked up a few chords playing his father’s Beatle Bass. If you’re wondering yes, that’s Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, the house band that played during their performances, playing in the background at the beginning and end.

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If you too are a bass player and suffer from the pangs of loneliness, someone has graciously taken the time to write down the bass tab for the sketch: here

I’ve talked a lot about wigs in the past fifteen episodes and this one will be no different. The Goddess of Compensation wig that Kevin wears in this episode is fantastic! The actual idea for this sketch I believe is Bruce’s and he uses it again in his Young Drunk Punk series on another construction site. I’m sure Kids in the Hall weren’t the first or last to use that idea for a sketch, the very system screams to be exploited. I can’t speak to the differences between worker’s compensation now and then but it doesn’t seem like much has changed except for the amount of paperwork and the size of the televisions. Scott also gets a big shout-out playing what I think will become Idiot Boy or at least is a character like Idiot Boy. The line Mark’s character shouts: “Not the hook end, you moron!!” gets me every time.

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Last but not least we have a weird, strange, odd sketch called “Power of my Cock”. Features Bruce in the bathroom (you don’t actually see him) and Kevin as a housewife trying to get him out of the bathroom. That’s where my understanding of the whole thing ends. It’s hilarious to watch Kevin’s performance and it’s the first sketch to be censored that I’ve found. Additional comments on this sketch is more than welcome.

Pulled together with Thirty Helens Agree, this is a fine episode with a nice diversity of types of sketches and pairings. We’re on the home stretch of season one!


tally116

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

Kat in the Hall: 1×15

Episode 15: Airdate: Tuesday April 10, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Buddy Cole

Buddy Cole

Mississippi Gary

Mississippi Gary

Review!

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.

To rejection!

To rejection!

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 kith25Oscar 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. kith23Clearly 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.


tally115

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

Kat in the Hall: 1×14

Episode 14: Airdate: Tuesday April 3, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Bobby & Laura

Bobby's Parents

Bobby’s Parents

Review!

Episode 14 is a Kevin heavy episode, which seems fitting given the Kids finally convinced him to join twitter (@kevinthekith) and as of the publishing of this he’s almost up to 4K followers! The Kids regularly call Kevin “the funny one” because he’s accidentally funny and in this episode he shows both his comedy chops and his flexibility working with the other Kids. He plays against Scott and Dave in two very different sketches. Dave and Kevin play off each other by bouncing back and forth. Dull Death is the perfect contrast of Dave taking no nonsense and giving no sympathy to a friend who clearly has died multiple times before, to Kevin who is experiencing something that any other person would find immensely interesting and getting no reaction in return.

For those that know of Jack Harkness and his secret, are his recountings of death boring? Once someone has died and come back a couple times would you want to still hear about it?

While Dave and Kevin bounce off each other, Kevin and Scott compliment and contrast each other. They never conflict but I don’t feel the same give and take as you do with Dave and Kevin. Nothing wrong with their style it’s just different. At times it almost seems like Scott is acting more like Kevin who is then playing a character, rather than creating something from scratch.

If my memory is correct, this is the first time we see Kevin and Scott paired up in a sketch without a third Kid. The editors are parodies but, (and I’m sure my editor friends will correct me if I’m wrong) editors this tyrannical do exist to some degree in real life. Maybe they can’t actually rip up fire hydrants in here but they can do so in books if the story calls for it. The names are clever, a play on the words will and won’t, and their outfits are entirely opposite each other except for the wigs. I should also point out that the wigs are horrible in this sketch, almost to the point of dragging me away from enjoying it.

From editors to teenage love, we’re back with Bobby and his parents only to find out that Laura broke up with him! Oh, young love! Bruce does over dramatic teenager almost too well, if his book is any indication I’m sure he’s drawing from his childhood at some point. I admire his acting ability to not corpse (break out of character) when he’s going off the rails each time his parents mention Laura’s name. The Kid with the most songs gets another one and it’s right up there with the poetry song we heard when Bobby and Laura first met.

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As an aside, does Laura look familiar to you? That’s Nicole de Boer aka Ezri Dax on Deep Space Nine and Sarah Bannerman on The Dead Zone!

I love Dave’s mother character, she’s so quiet without being a pushover. Contrast that with Mark’s father character with his minimal lines saying so much just by standing up and then sitting back down when the mother gestures for him to do so. His monotone, “I don’t like anybody” could have been met a number of ways and instead it’s just acceptance. this is a wife who has dealt with this quite sometime. Without over-analyzing the family dynamic too much it’s easy to see that Bobby isn’t scared of his father; this is a family where Mom reigns supreme both in discipline and support. Knowing the Kids didn’t have the best experiences with their dads I wonder if this is on purpose?

The Editors come in to break the scene and tote away the parents, this is my favourite kind of linking sketch.

Both the “I lied” sketch and the “I’m a Cat” sketch show Mark monologuing in different ways. Although we see the rest of the troupe at the end they’re only there to bring about a “Cats-esque” vibe to the whole thing. This is one sketch I’m completely fine with not seeing during the live show. The cat sketch is good and Mark’s hair is excellent but now in the age of the cat meme seems all the more relevant. Now I just need to see a cat doing this sketch as a human. I would have never placed Mark as a cat person, he seems too bouncy to be a cat. Maybe Scott as the cat, given Scott has always owned cats.

One of my favourite group “Vox pop” sketches is My Routine. It reminds me of A Bit of Fry and Laurie sketches and all the wonderful things British comedy can provide. Just the perfect amount of strangeness mixed with their own individual personalities and all finished by them all ending the same way. You could argue that they’re all successful in their own ways, except maybe Bruce’s character who seems more hobo than actual golfer. Kevin is the most successful and of all routines his is the most normal. The only odd thing about his is that he goes down to the morgue to read his newspaper. Otherwise he’s successful and stays in shape and helps Mark’s pyromaniac character.

Mark, however, should get an award for happiest burn ward patient. How many painkillers did they give him?

Schoolroom rounds the episode off nicely and with an appearance from Bellini! Bellini makes an appearance in this episode playing a student, one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” lines at the end.

“I can make it four, Mr. Bellini!”

Dave and Scott are playing “teacher” and “his girlfriend” but I like to think these two characters sparked or were the foundation for Francesca Fiore and Bruno Puntz Jones, lovers that will be introduced later on in season 2 also played by Scott and Dave.

davesc

It’s hard to tell when this is set, presumably around the Cold War given the references and the ‘accent’ that Scott is putting on, but despite knowing nothing about the time period or place we can really engage in the story. The sketch is very quotable and shows a twist to Dave’s acting ability, his ability to switch back and forth with and without a stutter. The stutter isn’t played for laughs but his boring voice and topic is and it’s done well. So well in fact that Kevin’s student character falls asleep with his hand up and then slowly brings it down later in the sketch. We can always rely on Scott to bring in the drama and this has great melodramatic lines to play with, like this one after Dave tries to keep going comparing their love and the Cold War and fails:

“Darling! Don’t talk to me of thermodynamics, talk to me only of love.”

Swoon.

The Editors quickly come in to edit themselves out (how very tidy!) and episode 14 comes to an end. I’m curious whether or not this was meant to be a Kevin-centric episode or if it just happened that way. The past few episodes have been relatively balanced, with the exception of Bruce, and now we have Kevin in almost every scene. I’m probably created conspiracy where there is none… thoughts? As always leave them in the comments!


tally114

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

Kat in the Hall: 1×13

Episode 13: Airdate: Tuesday January 30, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Gerald and Gerald

Review!

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been lonely at one point or another in our lives. Episode 13 begins with “Signs of Loneliness” a sketch that seeks to be informative while delivering a whopping, weird punchline at the end. If you missed the signs you might honestly believe that it wasn’t a comedy sketch. Although the set-up is a little silly and the audience is laughing (they know what’s coming) it’s not until the baby arrives that we get a good laugh. That’s a sentence I never thought I would write in my life, ever. Mark is narrating, something he does exceptionally well and Dave is playing that soft-spoken gentle guy that I believe is his best persona. The rude, sneering driver we’ll see later in Fat Hitch-hiker is the other one he plays well but this is just so darn, cute. Dave’s cute in this if a little bit whiny and quietly pleading with whomever is on the other end of the phone.

Cut to the reappearance of the Geralds and this time they’re networking! It’s worth noting that although Bruce gives his name as “Nick” he’s referred to as Gerald as well. Mark’s Gerald has apparently done this before and Bruce’s Gerald is new to the business side of things. He plays the role well, as we’ve seen his negotiating tactics in a previous episode and he seems like a fish out of water. How he doesn’t know what a business card is, is beyond me. Their love of professional sports is also legendary.

Dave: I cheer for all the local teams!
Bruce: Really? They’re not as good as they *used* to be, I hear.

(Reminds me of Sportsball)

The Kids are known for their love-to-taunt feelings towards businessmen and that is plastered all over this sketch like cheap hair product. The “overdoing it” guy, the “merger” guys and the dry line Scott delivers: “I’m going to go stand a few feet over there now” all succinctly hits how foolish networking parties are. Between this and the bird-like businessmen in the Mr. Stevenson sketch we are starting to get an idea that no one in the business world is safe from multiple angles of mocking.

Our linking sketch is Mark playing weird plausibly. One of the reasons I think Bruce and Mark work together so well is they each love big, weird characters and while Mark can play a character that is strange he can also play a normal character like the guy in this sketch in a way that you laugh, but you aren’t really sure why. He’s not doing anything funny, persay, but the repetition and persistence makes you chuckle. While researching for some of the sketches in this episode I found a great article about the Lopez sketch from TV Geek Army called, “The Kids in the hall Seek Out Lopez.” Give a read and let me know if you agree with their thoughts.

I’m of two minds about Fat Hitch-hiker. One, I like the premise but two I don’t like the content. It’s structurally funny but I know if I have to preface the word funny with anything except not or very, it’s not very funny. I’m guessing it’s a Kevin and Dave sketch and I admire Kevin playing a guy getting taunted like this. Kevin used to be the “fat kid” as a teenager and during the 1980s he lost a lot of weight. It was to the point where people were worried he was becoming anorexic, he wasn’t (as he explains on an episode commentary). I know I would have issues playing Kevin’s role in this or even jokingly playing Dave’s role when a very good friend was playing the role next to me. Maybe it’s just not my cup of comedy tea. I do love the face Dave pulls at the end though, a weird kind of non-committed sneer. There’s a great article about Kevin and running that runningmagazine.ca published May 5, 2013 where this sketch was mentioned.

The Donut Shop, whose proper title is No Regrets is a quick little sketch with a pretty simple message. Kevin wants all the donuts, Bruce thinks everyone is a pig, Mark tells him off (in a very absurd way) and Bruce for some strange reason agrees and goes back to his video game. Let’s be honest here, the best part of this sketch is Dave in the background with the strange hair and a small little teacup in his hand. Whoever decided that he should don that wig is a comedic genius.

See?

See?

Amongst the Lopez sketches with solo Mark comes solo Kevin with the Lamp. I’ve said before I don’t really like to say something is very typical of one of the Kids but this is Kevin’s forte. I admire his ability to do this whole monologue as though he’s talking on the phone, first to a woman and then to a child. It’s great to see how his mannerisms change depending on who he’s talking to. As ludacris as the premise is (the guy with only three fingers reached up to pull down a SEVEN FOOT, TWO HUNDRED POUND LAMP?) it’s really about a guy that no one likes and who leans on people too much. When a six year old, incredibly smart child, puts you on hold and then hangs up on you, maybe you have a problem? The fact that this guy is the boss of any group of people is astonishing to me since I can’t picture him moving up the corporate ladder at all.

“Oh, mom, by the way, I’m becoming an Indian woman.”

Indian Woman puts Scott in the spotlight and I watch it and find myself going back and forth between laughing (Johnny and Hadji? Really? I wonder where they got those names from…) and thinking how it reflects on culture today. I’m sure people feel like they grew up in the wrong culture, choosing to adopt the culture of somewhere else instead of what they may have been raised in but that is a choice. Being transgender is not a choice. Does this sketch offend people? Is it mocking being transgender in any way or the ease in which John becomes a woman? This whole sketch is a step beyond drag and into something else. I can’t comment beyond that but I welcome your thoughts. Even if I often don’t find Scott’s sketches as funny as the others they always, without fail, make me think. I applaud that in any performer.

Then we wrap with Lopez, who arrives home to see his house on fire. This is why I’m glad cellphones exist as now it’s easier to just call your friend when you arrive at his home and he doesn’t seem to be there. I do wonder if Mark’s character lost his job though, since he didn’t go to work. A perfect place for fanfiction…

We’ve now finished Disc 2 if you’re playing along at home on your mega-set. Favourite sketch? Opinions or comments? Have a favourite character that still hasn’t been introduced? Leave a comment!


tally113

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

Kat in the Hall: 1×12

Episode 12: Airdate: Tuesday January 23, 1990

The Sketches

Recurring Characters

Gordon and Fran

Gordon and Fran

Weston Esterhazy & Virgil

Kathie, Cathy and Tanya

Review!

First off, something awesome happened a few days ago that I’m still over the moon about. A friend of mine, Andre, went to see the taping of “Unmasked” a show hosted on SiriusXM at the Village Underground in New York and featured all five Kids. Andre offered one of his tickets to me. Obviously, flying out to New York for a taping isn’t realistic (even if I wish it WAS!) so I thanked him, told him how jealous I was but declined. Interrobang! ran an article about it and there’s a few clips to listen to on their page. Otherwise it looks like you need SiriusXM to listen. From everything I’ve heard and read, it was a fantastic show and all the guys were on top form. After the show they had time for pictures with the audience. A few days after Andre sends me a link to this picture:

readkatinthehallkith

Click to embiggen

It’s a bit hard to read even if you enlarge the picture but that sign says “Read The Kat in the Hall blog!” He originally wanted the guys to hold the sign but they told him he had to be in the picture. More importantly he explained what the blog was. He told the Kids in the Hall about my blog! From what he told me when I asked what they said in response, they were pleased and especially so because I’m Canadian. He also told them I’d be at the Edmonton show (May 19th) and would be doing the Meet & Greet. I know it isn’t realistic and I know it won’t happen, but it would be so nice for them to remember the blog when I meet them later this month. Regardless, thank you Andre!

Now onto episode 12!

We have a lot of recurring characters this episode and the first appearance of a future recurring character Ms. Ferguson played by Dave. She’s a strong, independent and snarky higher management type person for A.T.&Love who wants little to do with the other women that work for her. That said she seems to have a slightly softer side in this episode, reassuring Kathie about when she too “turned over”. As someone who’s worked as an admin assistant/type-all-the-things person I wish we had something to show how many words you’ve typed, I would have turned over a long time ago. It’s funny to see the parallels to a car turning over, being so excited and then after it happens there’s nothing. It seems like a huge moment for that brief second and then it’s just a number. Really like the sets for this sketch too, it’s a shame they downgraded for later “Secretary” sketches into a more cubicle style.

Mood Swing brings back Gordon and Fran, the Salty Ham family and this time we get to see somewhat of a playful side of Gordon. I refuse to believe he doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing the moment he starts bothering Fran while she’s in a good mood. At the end when he gets her to call his sister I see it as a little bit of an apology for what he did. Yes, Fran’s sister is the one on the short end of the stick but at least Fran isn’t in the bad mood anymore.

It’s a very real dynamic they’re playing with here and very likely something everyone who has been in a relationship with someone else would have encountered in their day-to-day lives. As an aside, I love that Gordon is eating crackers and Cheez Whiz. I wonder if the pickle was going to be incorporated somehow. Cheese and pickle, while being very British and to some degree very Canadian is more importantly, very tasty.

Billy Dreamer parts 1 & 2 seems so very Kevin and Dave. I don’t really like to label something as being “very so and so-esque” but I’ve done it quite a few times already. This is weird with a side order of, what was that? Have you ever daydreamed about something slightly better than what you already have? What’s the point of daydreaming if you don’t go big? The sky isn’t even the limit; there is no limit! I will admit Kevin plays the character well and his ability to pull funny faces is given it’s time to shine. On one of the commentaries Kevin remarks how one of the directors didn’t like him and told him to “stop pulling funny faces all the time,” Kevin gets upset and replies, “but that’s what I do!” He does do it well though.

It should be known that of all the Kids, Dave is the one that actually knows how to play guitar. Bruce learned how to play a bit of bass when he got older and I believe Mark can play piano but Dave is the guitar played. Knowing this, the sketch is a lot funnier especially as he tunes the string tighter and tighter until it snaps. I wince every time the string snaps, partially because of the sound and partially because thanks to horror movies I have a fear of one of those strings snapping and whipping someone in the eye. I’ll give Dave credit, he doesn’t flinch when they snap.

“Nope, for me, rock’n’roll music, and excuse me if this is corny, just gives off too many bad vibes.”

There’s elements of the Country Doctor character in this “Dave” character and I like it. I also like that the transcript for this sketch says that he: [breaks the guitar a la Pete Townshend.] Very specific.

From Pete Townshend to “Who’s Gay in Hollywood?” Weston Esterhazy & Virgil are back and this time they are discussing the celebs of the time who might, maybe, could be gay. I bounce around whether I like these two characters and it might just be the physical representation rather than the premise of the character that makes me uncomfortable. Mark and Scott do a wonderful job portraying them, especially because they look very different from their normal selves. I’ve never really thought of either of them as geeky at all (not compared to Dave, Kevin and Bruce at least, who seem to have their geekness about certain things very evidently on their sleeves.) It’s a very well put together sketch and one that includes all those little liability lines to make sure that no one sues for slander.

Then there Skoora the gentle shark who doesn’t want to maim you, but has to because she’s a shark. It’s in her nature! This was clearly a play on Jaws and the hysteria surrounding it and the fact that people honestly seem surprised that wild animals hunt humans when the humans tread on their turf. Why is that shocking? Hunters hunt! You can’t blame a wild animal for trying to get food or protecting its territory. It does a great job of dancing on the line of parody and just another good sketch. As another layer the guys are all playing themselves, or rather a version of themselves, using their own names.

skoora

Bruce and Scott as the two marine biologists who each lost an arm and an eye are great, how they keep helping each other as though they were one person. The gruesome newlywed couple also gets a mention if only for the make-up and special effects. I’ll also point out that the “special effects” ie. water and fake blood when Dave was being maimed by Skoora behind the bar were just cheap and crude enough that they worked really well. We don’t need to see Skoora, we gather all the information we need and imagine her in our minds.


tally112

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

Kat in the Hall: 1×11

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])