BONUS: The Kids in the Hall (2022): An Essay

Immediate Pre-Essay Thoughts:

Years ago, back when I was just starting to get into SNL and sketch comedy in general, in the summer of 2014, I stumbled upon the Canadian sketch comedy show The Kids in the Hall at a friend’s house. A friend that is much like me, a sketch comedy fanatic. I saw only the show’s pilot, and several episodes from different seasons, and after that, I almost forgot about the show, which is baffling in retrospect. Considering the high acclaim that both the show and its performers deservedly gained from it. I did, however, become far more interested in SNL, Monty Python, and Mr. Show, more than any other sketch shows. So, it was only now that I got the chance to revisit the show, through its newest revival season. This essay will be covering the whole season, with special mention to several sketches that I personally believe deserve a mention from me, with quick analysis of each. So, here we go!

An Overview of The Kids in the Hall:

The show starts with Mark, doing a pretty dead-on and hilarious Lorne Michaels impression breaking the fourth wall and declaring that the boys are back after their movie, with the title Brain Candy, finally broke even in the box office and by that the curse is lifted and the boys are back. Right from this I knew I was in for a ride that shall be remembered, and it turned out to be the understatement of the century for me, as I LOVED this revival show, which is why I’ll be pointing out some, but not all of my favorite sketches from it.

In the sketch “The Last Fax” two secretaries, played to perfection by Bruce & Scott, lament the decline of the fax, with the terrific, subtle detail of their office space still stuck in the late 80s/early 90s, and everyone around them in modern times. The detail also of their names being Cathy & Kathy is also a subtle hint of random humor that is being pulled off flawlessly. The sketch, which is what I wish SNL would do more of in recent seasons, is a perfect example of my kind of random, creative, and absurdist humor, as the titular last fax turns out to be the last defense of planet Earth against a large-scale destruction of the planet from an alien civilization far from Earth. This random, unexpected, and brilliant ending is a perfect microcosm of the show as a whole to me. Unpredictable in the best possible way & far more innovative & less formulaic than other sketch shows around at the same time, including modern-day SNL, although that may change as we transition towards a new era next season.

The second episode of the season is, in my personal view, one of the greatest accomplishments in modern-day sketch comedy television, with three wall-to-wall bonafide classics, the Monty Python-esque “Drop Average”, the terrific & unpredictable: “Imaginary Girlfriend”, and finally the obscene & filthy in the best possible way: “Masturbation Policy”. Those three make the episode the season’s finest by far, and the variety of the sketch concepts, even moreso than usual for the show, make the episode a bluprint for how I imagine a perfect sketch comedy show to be. In “Drop Average” we get Dave Foley, my personal pick as the show’s MVP by the way, that boasts to a couple, played by Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald, that his drop average is 39%, meaning only that aforementioned percentage of delivered babies fall on the floor. Visuals play a major role in making this sketch the absurd, creative masterpiece that it is, as well as Dave’s terrific performance here, and his insane request to keep whatever he finds down there as he delivers the baby.

The “Imaginary Girlfriend” sketch is just pure work of brilliance, led by terrific performances by Dave Foley, yet again this season, and the great Kevin McDonald. The subtle hint of melancholy that hangs all over the sketch, and the tense, sharply-written, and well-delivered back-and-forth between Dave and Kevin is nothing short of mesmerizing, and an ending that is a perfect capper to such a gem of random humor, with those subtle, yet effective hints of melancholy & pathos. The “Masturbation Policy” sketch is a one that is initially seems to be shocking for the sake of it, yet it is a tale of buildup, and what a perfect, filthy, and utterly hilarious buildup it is. The sketch begins with Dave, yet again in that monstrous wig & body suit combo, making him almost unrecognizable to me, in his boss character that appeared several times throughout the season, conducting a meeting, before it all breaks loose, and this meeting about the masturbation policy of the company, turns out to failure, as the attendees start to masturbate as the meeting goes on, culminating in one of the more shocking & hilarious visuals that I’ve ever seen a sketch comedy show pull, and succeeding with that incredibly well.

Now we come to arguably the best sketch of the whole season, for me at least, the “Doomsday DJ” sketch that features Dave, again proving to be the MVP, alone in a post-apocalyptic world, still playing music and going on-air on his show, with the sense that there is nobody else that is listening on the other side. Dave excels in this solo character piece, that is shown throughout the episode as a runner, his facial expressions alone, and the sense of dread that he manages to convey is outstanding. I was absolutely loving the show before this episode, but this sketch is the one that made me want to write a whole essay about this whole revival season. It is so hard sometimes to articulate why you love something so much, but this sketch’s direction, atmosphere, the song playing on and on, and particularly Dave’s silent acting throughout it not only sells the already-brilliant premise, but in a way, even elevates it if that’s even possible. This sketch, in my view, is an astounding discovery of the human condition in its darkest places

In both “Super Drunk” & “Cats” we get excellent showcases for Bruch & Kevin, respectively. The first of the two is a very fun, loose throwback to the comic book hero age, with the titular Super Drunk, a vigilante who fights crime at his most drunken status, with the assistance of his sidekick, as played by Dave. I’ve always felt the five performers were all great, yet in their own ways, and this fun runner showcases Bruce’s flawless way of getting into a character as loose & as silly as this vigilante. A very fun sketch, that’s not only impressively well-structured, but pulled off with it leaning quite well into the stupid side, but not totally collapsing on it in the process. “Cats” is another very well-deserved showcase for Kevin, who had the fantastic “Imaginary Girlfriend” sketch as his biggest showcase before this one, this sketch spoke to me as a cat lover, and the initial reveal of Kevin’s cats trying to plot his demise is priceless. The random reveal that the cats also killed Mark’s detective character is worth a huge laugh, as well as them taking Scott’s gun and then shooting at him, Bruce, and Kevin as the reaches its climax. Yet another random, silly, creative, and very fun sketch concept in a season filled with nothing but wall-to-wall pieces ranging from pretty good to outstanding.

Bruce & Scott team-up once more late in the season with the slice-of-life, yet funny “Fran and Gordon” runner, with the unique way it was presented as a video footage filmed by Dave. This sketch serves as an example of how effortless Bruce & Scott are together on the show, much like how great they were in the fantastic Last Fax sketch earlier in the season. The sketch’s whole premise revolves around Bruce’s character not being able to lift up Scott’s, and the back-and-forth between Bruce and Scott, their contrasting personalities, and in-depth, lived-in characterization makes this sketch not only funny, but in a way quite endearing, with a great payoff at the end. Another sketch this season that actually worked, and gave us a lot, in a dew minutes, where some other shows could struggle to show its comedic premise.

Truth be told, as the season was going on, I was more and more worried about how little we’ve seen of Mark’s comedic talents, being mostly in supporting roles and doing solid character work, till the 2nd half of the season, where he was finally displaying his talents at least once each episode. The “Taddli Guy” runner serves as a strong showcase of his absurdist roots and his ability to portray such characters with affability & looseness, much like the also-great, yet subtly surreal “Flags of Mark” sketch from the episode before this one. In this runner, Mark revives this bizarre character that he also performed during his short-lived stint at SNL in the mid 90s, and in this modern setting, the character works perfectly as the one that corrects others’ follies and misbehavior. The runner’s bizarre, yet fun fourth wall-breaking as it ends, with Taddli chewing out his writers added well to the overall off-kilter, silly, and random atmosphere of the runner; a one that showcased Mark perfectly.

In the final episode, we got the very silly & Carol Burnett-esque “My Card” sketch, which showcased both Mark & Kevin exceptionally well, especially the latter’s physicality. The sketch’s elaborate structure, and the fun detail of the ridiculously increasing facial hair on the faces of the men that Mark meets in the park, as well as Kevin’s hilariously increasing faints whenever the detective comes to visit make this sketch not only one of my favorites of the season, and considering the high-quality of the season, that’s saying something. But the type of great throwback to the sketch comedy I wish we would see more of in recent decades. Such a great, elaborate sketch for the finale of the season.

So, finally, what to say about this show that I haven’t said in the paragraphs above? Well, if I didn’t make it clear by now, I absolutely LOVED this show, from the writing, the creativity, the likability & strength of the five performers, to the ambitious, elaborate, and unique sketch concepts that dominated the episodes. Watching this season has made me such a fan of The Kids in the Hall and their style of comedy to the degree that I consider their work a gold standard of how sketch comedy should be more often, with conceptual, daring, creative, silly, and unique approach to both writing it and performing it. I had such a great both watching and writing these quick breakdowns and combing them into this essay, and I sure hope you all weren’t disappointed with my writeup.

Final Thoughts:-

  • And thus ends my very first non-SNL essay! This was tons of fun for me to write, even though I really struggled to choose the sketches that I wanted to highlight here, which truly speaks to the high-quality of the whole series that it was so difficult for me to pinpoint what was the best of the best in it. I sure hope to do more special posts during the summer, in addition to hopefully reviewing at least seasons 42 & 43 before SNL returns for season 48, and if I was lucky enough, I hope to also do season 44. I hope you all enjoyed this essay of mine, and please support the show if you can, so we hopefully see more seasons to come, as the boys most definitely did not lose any of their trademark brilliance.

Up Next:-

  • Season 42 reviews begin with host Margot Robbie and musical guest The Weeknd. We also have three new additions to the cast & a certain familiar face taking over the Trump impression.

One Reply to “BONUS: The Kids in the Hall (2022): An Essay”

  1. A really, really strong breakdown and review, Blood!

    I also saw this new season as a stroke of absolute brilliance, right up alongside the best sketches from their run of 30 years ago. It’s cliche, but they truly have not run out of gas in the softest. Tons of new ideas, the same razor-sharp writing and performing as always, and only a welcomed amount of nostalgia. In fact, any nostalgia you find in this new season is really just smart-assed, self-deprecating, meta content.

    I could go on and on but you pretty much covered it. Doomsday DJ is getting the most press and love, and rightfully so, as it’s just peak Foley and probably the season’s highlight overall. Dave offers the kind of commitment that makes it hard to tell whether we’re watching a sketch comedy runner or a horrifying real-life apocalypse tale.

    Anyone who’s watched the show for years can tell you with great accuracy who wrote which sketch. But indeed, it’s sometimes hard to find Mark’s fingerprints on the show. He definitely has the reputation (and the look) of dominating straight-man and utility roles, but late in the season, you see just how broad he can get. You could always see it on the first run of the show, and you can definitely see it through his SNL tenure and in his role on Superstore.

    Again, great work bud. For those looking to go deeper into Kids in the Hall lore, I would suggest starting here:

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