The Kids in the Hall

| June 22, 2012

Sketch comedy series, The Kids in the Hall, aired on Canadian and American television between 1988 and 1995 for a total of five seasons. All five seasons of The Kids in the Hall, along with the troupe’s 2010 reunion series, The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town, are currently available in a special feature-packed 22 DVD Complete Series Megaset from A&E Home Video. This unbelievably reasonably-priced collection is truly a must-own for any fan of sketch comedy.

I recall fondly my bond with The Kids in the Hall as a teenager, catching its reruns whenever and wherever possible. On more than one occasion, in fact, I found myself home sick from school with a sore throat, which meant that I could spend the day with Canada’s own Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson in syndication on Comedy Central. Inevitably, I’d laugh so hard during the hour or so that they’d show reruns that I’d all but guarantee myself another day at home with a sore throat.

Although produced by Saturday Night Live creator/executive producer Lorne Michaels, Kids bears little resemblance to SNL. Indeed, the Kids draw more from the anarchistic comedy of Britain’s The Goon Show, Monty Python, and the alternative comedy movement of the 1980s than they do traditional American humor. As such, their sketches tended toward the bizarre or surreal, with the series becoming ever-increasingly more surreal as it moved toward its fifth and final season. The Kids’ sketches rely heavily on drag and often progressively featured homosexual-themed material written by openly gay troupe member, Scott Thompson. Not unlike any other sketch show, the Kids too had their own recurring characters. Among the most memorable of these perhaps are the Chicken Lady, the head-crushing Mr. Tyzik, the flying pig, Cabbage Head, and, of course, the one-man show that is Buddy Cole. While I do so adore these characters, for me the Kids’ material was at its best when they were being openly and gleefully offensive. For this reason, my favorite episode has always been episode 20 of season one, in which Dave Foley reads from The Dr. Seuss Bible, Bruce McCulloch insults the customers of the “b-b-b-b-bank” he works at, and Kevin McDonald lives out the final moments of singer Buddy Holly’s life.

Kids in the Hall is one of my top three all-time favorite sketch shows, I’ve seen Brain Candy about two dozen times, and I even saw the Kids perform live at The Chicago Theatre in 2008. And yet, somehow, when the Kids came together again to film Death Comes to Town in 2010, this news passed completely under my radar! Having devoured Death Comes to Town in two sittings this week, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in myself for not seeing it sooner. Unlike the original Kids in the Hall, Death Comes to Town does not rely on sketches, instead presenting a single narrative over the course of its eight episodes. And it’s a murder mystery! Imagine if you will, what would happen if The Kids in the Hall were to remake Twin Peaks season one, with an ongoing murder investigation complicated by supernatural forces where everyone’s a suspect, only all the townsfolk are played by the Kids. The result is a satisfying follow-up to Kids in the Hall that gives Kids fans exactly what they, but in an exciting new format. Special features on Death Comes to Town include bloopers, deleted and extended scenes, and audio commentaries with Dave Foley and Bruce McColloch.

 Special features on the series proper in this 22-DVD Megaset include:
-Oral histories of seasons one & two featuring interviews with the Kids, Lorne Michaels, and (on the second season) series icon Paul Bellini;
-2 Best-Of Compilations per season (for a total of 10) featuring Fan Favorite sketches, including a compilation of sketches from the pilot;
-Audio commentary by the Kids on these Fan Favorite compilations;
-An hour and a half’s worth of hysterical live Kids in the Hall performances from the Rivoli Theater, not seen on television;
-Archival footage on season four featuring additional live performances;
-A poster gallery featuring promotional material for Kids in the Hall live performances;
-2 slide shows;
-& cast biographies.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).

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