In the decades since their CBC-HBO sketch show went off the air, they’ve released a cult-fave movie, gone on numerous live comedy tours, and had a limited-run revival with 2010’s Death Comes to Town. But you would be sadly mistaken because McKinney’s languid French whore Sylvie exists, wasting away blondely in front of a vanity, thinking about Tony, wondering where he could be, who he’s with, what is he thinking … is he thinking of her? Steps

KITH infused their comedy with gay themes and characters from their very first episode in 1988 onward in sketches about closeted celebrities, representational politics, homophobia, or just regular relationship foibles. And what would it be without musical sketches? but with more emphasis on willingness and enthusiasm and less on social inadequacy, sycophancy, or natural ability. Drive My Car found shaking. Stevenson! This is ultimate praise. Gordon and Fran

McCulloch and Thompson’s middle-aged suburban couple is delightfully lived-in; you get the sense that there’s a full two-act play’s worth of backstory behind the marriage of considerate and fretful Fran and blustery Gordon. He’s hypersmart, hypersexual, unabashedly flaming, and irreverent at a time when there weren’t exactly a million other characters on TV dispensing five-minute monologues about cruising and dropping James Baldwin references. I could choose from a zillion sketches where the Kids play frazzled housewives, but these are the sketches I always come back to. Decades before @dril, Gordon was spewing lines like, “A man works all day — he expects a normal ham meal, not goddamn bastard brine!”


The Kids in the Hall had a good number of sketches that utilized the camera in ways that felt more surprising than the average sketch show. And adjacent to but not an affiliate of A.T. Hotel La Rut

You would think that Foley makes for the prettiest girl of all the Kids — after all, he is one of comedy’s prettiest boys. Not so the Kids.”


If you haven’t figured it out by this point, KITH revels in the absurd. K). The Kids in the Hall is back from the dead (literally — they ended their original 1988–1995 series getting buried alive in a mass grave), and they’re introducing a whole new generation of comedy nerds to their brand of alt, intelligent, surreal, goofy comedy. Either the Pear Dream speaks to you or it doesn’t. It takes a creative partnership built on trust and shared creative language to dream up characters like Jerry Sizzler and his sister, Jerry Sizzler, two escaped mental patients in bathrobes and stolen wigs with the tags still on, starting their lives afresh as lounge singers and bank robbers. If you see the letters KITH and only think of shoes, here is a 22-step field guide of tropes to watch out for from the Citizen Kane of sketch comedy. Monologues

Every member of KITH can pull off a mean monologue, both in character and out. Photo: The Kids In The Hall/YouTube

So you want to be a Kids in the Hall keener? (Except for that one time only 29 Helens agreed on the subject of promptness because Helen Fournier was running late.)

A.T. To quote writer Daniel Ortberg, “In the hands of lesser men, this would not be a loving, affectionate, insider-y tweak at Canadian gay (stairwell) culture; it would be cringe-inducing gay drag. Bruce and Mark’s Dumb Cops and Slick Hucksters

If KITH have 30 seconds to fill between sketches, you better believe McCulloch and McKinney’s dipshit TPS officers are on the case. Now go on, be free. Her friend Michelle (Thompson) is wondering the exact same thing. Obviously that would become the mainstream breakout character. Bruce’s Little Punks and Twerps

No, this isn’t the name of a spinoff sketch series. Even though Thompson plays the wife, it’s McCulloch who’s doing the drag here, performing a very certain type of always low-key angry and stressed domesticized masculinity. Related

The Kids in the Hall Make a Head-Crushing Return

Tags: Kevin and Dave’s Frenzied Pairings

McDonald and Foley had been performing together long before the troupe formed, so whenever the two pair up for a sketch, things get especially … sizzly. And then there’s “Premise Beach,” a segment where Foley and McDonald throw themselves into the most half-baked premises they can dream up. What makes Buddy a fully balanced one-queen force is how he sprinkles his satire with the surreal. Canadian television funding has never gone to a worthier cause. A lot of creativity with the camera and filmmaking style. Francesca Fiore and Bruno Putz-Jones

These fake foreign-film stars make movies that are impossible to follow but hard to look away from. Canada

Above all, KITH are good Canadian subjects of the queen. Foley is especially skilled at giving clear-eyed deliveries of psychotic takes. Rexes and pterodactyls going around biting his friends’ limbs off, or the time he coached a lesbian softball team (the Sappho Sluggers) in what was essentially a live-action Bugs Bunny sequence. German Expressionism

A lot of existential dread and paranoia going on in some of these. And just about every other sketch was about mocking straight culture: Their straight husband and businessman characters come across more like drag than their drag characters. The Headcrusher’s lore expanded over the series as the Kids came up with silly new ways to play with depth of field: there’s “Nobody Home,” finger rehab, and an epic battle with his rival, the Facepincher (McDonald). & Love are lawyers the Geralds. There’s Smitty (McDonald), a neurotic Louis Ironson type, Riley (Foley), a freakin’ scamp, and Butch (Thompson), the sweet idiot. Over the course of 102 episodes in their original run, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson were irascible comedy scamps ahead of their time and deft at political subversion, gender fuckery, and poo jokes in equal measure. Or at least Thompson’s version of her. Did you know that before KITH, Foley and McDonald were on an improv team called Uncle Vanya and the Three Sisters? They make SNL and late-night monologues sound like kindergarten graduation speeches, and they go well beyond Buddy Cole. And there you have it: 22 things to know before you watch the new Kids in the Hall. As the series went on, they’d throw him into sketches more and more, always wearing only a towel and mostly silent, until they started holding sweepstakes for fans to touch Bellini’s exposed belly or eat breakfast with him at an airport. They can be meek (“My Pen”) or delusionally bold (“Bobby Versus Satan”), and often they’re rarin’ for a fight that they’re bound to lose (“Eradicator,” “Cincinnati Kid,” “Stay Down”). Then listen to your old man. The worldliest Canadian to ever live, Buddy Cole is a unique character in sketch history. Slipped my mind. 30 Helens Agree

Only nine out of ten doctors agree on the leading brand of toothpaste, but 30 out of 30 Helens agree on everything from tattoos to coleslaw. Paul Bellini is KITH’s version of that. Give them five minutes, though, and they’ll put on their $1,100 suit jackets and try to sell you on a pyramid scheme, canned meat product, or electric organ. Meta Sketches About Sketch Writing

“Premise Beach” is only the tip of this iceberg. Like nerd, geek, brown-noser, smartypants, etc. McCulloch can play a hundred shades of twerp, from loathsome creep Cabbage Head to overly chatty latchkey kid Gavin. And what would all these Daves be without their moms? After Shania Twain, he is Timmins’s most famous export. Like in “Steps,” a recurring sketch about a friend triad who hangs out on the stoop of a coffee shop around Church and Wellesley and talks about, as Foley pronounces it, the big “iss-yoos,” including AIDS and gay marriage. These sales-pitch sketches are one example of a technique KITH really pioneered ahead of shows like ITYSL or Tim & Eric: When in doubt, fill a sketch with a fake product and/or senior citizens. Paul Bellini

You know how podcasts will often have an engineer or producer that eventually, casually becomes like the show’s bonus host — always there in the background and a beloved treat when they get on mic? Take “Dinosaurs,” a monologue about queer social life and about an influx of T. Bellini, who would go on to have a column in defunct Toronto gay magazine Fab, is Thompson’s writing partner on the show and wrote on almost every episode, the two of them instilling the comedy with a distinct queer sensibility. And whether he’ll ever return someday. Darill

McKinney’s ponytailed, ambiguously accented Darill feels like a Frasier character. Buddy Cole

Thompson’s greatest character is a folk hero, trailblazer, iconoclast, and chaos agent. The Darcy Pennell Show

McDonald’s completely incompetent talk-show host is underrated but extremely funny. Thompson plays the mysterious and glamorous Uruguayan beauty Francesca, and Foley plays Bruno, her lover-pimp-co-star. It’s an acknowledgment that no one on earth is playing combative little punks and annoying little twerps better than McCulloch. Most of the Kids are straight, but Thompson and Bellini’s impact was indelible, and the whole cast had a hand in bringing these closely observed characters to life. Can’t pronounce a name to save her life, poor dear. But only “Bank People” has dance breaks. My headcanon is Monique the Pyromaniac is her identical twin. Chicken Lady

A half-chicken, half-woman with no brain cells and a huge libido who explodes into a cloud of feathers when she orgasms. What don’t you understand about this? There’s also Simon and his manservant Hecubus, eeeeeevil hosts of the Pit of Ultimate Darkness, and hapless vaudevillians McGillicuddy and Green (not to be confused with McDonald’s other hapless vaudevillian, Mr. They’ve got multiple soliloquies about how much it sucks to be a cyclist in Toronto (plus ça change …). The most elaborate of the premises is “Shitty Soup,” which deftly pivots into a fourth-wall-breaking sketch that Thompson runs away with. & Love

This is the fictional corporation where all of the Kids in the Hall’s office drag takes place, the precursor to your GloboChems and Cincos. Songs

What would Kids in the Hall be without that surf-guitar theme music? Sometimes that meant cinematic, lyrical stuff like “My Pen” … and sometimes that just meant McKinney’s Headcrusher squeezing his finger and thumb in the foreground to crush businessmen, yuppies, and bullies like ants. Brainy stuff. There are the gossipy queens of the typing pool Cathy and Kathie (McCulloch and Thompson, unclear who’s who); their temp whipping girl Tanya (McKinney); company man Danny Husk (Thompson); chatty mailroom guy Stan (McKinney); and the boss, played by Foley in a fat suit and bald cap, sometimes with a mysterious brown liquid leaking from his mouth. Upon rewatch, this show is a nuclear Twinkie: just as fresh as the day it was made and perversely delicious. Bye, Mr. He gives especially affectionate performances as mulleted punk rockers; see “Into the Doors,” in which he played the Jack Black High Fidelity character years before High Fidelity. keener ˈkēnər  (Canadian slang, noun) Individual eager to demonstrate knowledge or participate enthusiastically in school, church, seminars, etc. And in the future, mankind will know God was a “ridiculous, stupid sham” but will remember and worship Bellini. The King of Empty Promises

Almost forgot to include this guy on the list. They first emerge in a sketch that folds reality inside out, and over the course of their appearances, we get a good look at their oeuvre, from Senhora Sete to Spy Models.