I vividly remember the first time I became aware of the Kids in the Hall was through a blip in the 1992 Fall Preview issue of TV Guide. The minuscule paragraph mentioned their involvement with Lorne Michaels (whom I knew as the guy behind SNL) at the time. I never managed to stay up and watch their run on CBS, but about four years later as a college student I finally saw the series on Comedy Central. I was not disappointed. My first reaction was at how strange the cast was. I’m not sure if it was because of these five gentlemen’s roots as exotic Canadians or at how well they passed for women in many skits, but I was hooked. This is the first time (thank you Netflix) that I have sat down and begun to work my way through the five seasons of KITH from the beginning. Watching on Comedy Central I had no framework in my head of how the show developed.
Some background on the Kids: For those of you unfamiliar the five members of the comedy troupe are Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson. The group formed in 1984, but like most comedy collectives, worked as duos or solo performers for many years before. There are also many behind the scenes players, particularly the infamous Paul Bellini who made a series of notable appearances in relation to a viewer contest the show held.
Though there are inevitable comparisons to Saturday Night Live, due the Lorne Michaels connection, the closest kin would be Monty Python. You have a fixed cast and skits that don’t rely on pop culture references for their humor. The laughs come from the absurdity of characters or situations. There is over the top violence and even skits that work to deconstruct comedy down to its raw nature. Because of the consistency in cast, you have a style of humor that is incredibly strong, the kind of thing that develops when people have organic relationships and aren’t simply cast by a showrunner.