Nearly thirty years removed from the end of their original run, The Kids in the Hall are back and this time they are going bigger than ever before. The whole gang is back together and, while they may have some more miles on them, they haven’t lost an ounce of the Kids that made their show great the first time.
For the uninitiated, The Kids in the Hall was a Canadian sketch show that ran on the CBC (HBO and CBS in the US) from 1988-1995. The Kids in the Hall Comedy Troupe, formed in 1984, consisted of Dave Foley (Newsradio, A Bug’s Life), Mark McKinney (SNL, Superstore), Bruce McCullough (Dog Park, Super Troopers 2), Kevin McDonald (That 70’s Show, Lilo and Stitch), and Scott Thompson (The Larry Sanders Show, Hannibal). Producer Lorne Michaels was pulling sketch show double duty show-running for this and SNL simultaneously.
The Kids in The Hall doesn’t feel like some desperate reunion where the entertainment is overshadowed merely by the reaction to how much they’ve aged like some band searching for a former glory. The cast, all of whom are now in or on the edge of their sixties, feel like the same guys that they were in their thirties, bringing the same chemistry, sensibility and edge that they’ve always had, despite decades apart as a troupe and an ever-changing entertainment landscape, only this time, with Amazon behind them and the lack of rules that a Canadian Government-funded network could never offer.
They’ve been given the chance to push the envelope even further. I won’t spoil it, but you’ll know what I mean within the first ten minutes of episode one.
“The Kids in The Hall doesn’t feel like some desperate reunion where the entertainment is overshadowed merely by the reaction to how much they’ve aged like some band searching for a former glory.”
Some of the sketches are more timely, exploring premises more reflective of today’s society, but not from the politically correct angle. But that’s not to say that this is just an updated version of the old show. Far from it. You still get plenty of the out-of-the-box sketches that on a show like SNL would be relegated to the final half hour for being too strange. The truest fans of comedy, however, will tell you that, when done right, these sketches are where the gold is found.
Sketch ideas like an Obstetrician who wears his baby drop percentage like a badge of honour, the criminals who find a creative way to avoid being identified by the police and two men fighting over an imaginary girlfriend are just the tip of the iceberg, sitting so comfortably outside of the box that you begin to realize why such boxes need not exist in comedy.
The comedy quintet brings so many amazing characters to life in the five episodes that I had the opportunity two watch, revisiting a few old favourites but not resting on their laurels. This isn’t one of those reunion shows that clings to the old jokes like a security blanket. They are there, but don’t dominate the season.
Sure, old fans will see what has become of Cathy and Kathy or the man who loves to crush heads, but you will find them peppered among a slew of original sketches that will inspire new fans and allow the OG fans to renew their love for The Kids in the Hall in a meaningful way.
This season will bring a lot of familiar faces to the screen. I don’t want to spoil the surprises (and try not to let IMDB ruin it for you either), but iconic actors and the who’s who of sketch comedy will find their way into the show in ways that don’t disrupt from the show’s regular flow.
What impresses me most is how little the cast has changed. Actors who have all made their individual marks in Hollywood all remain unapologetically Canadian with regular references to their home throughout the series. The flow of The Kids in The Hall also feels the same, even with the same theme song.
The Kids in The Hall drops on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, May 13 with all eight episodes releasing at the same time.