Kids in the Hall is the thinking cynic’s comedy team, satirizing politics, sex, family—you name it—with cerebral wit. Right? “I think of the troupe as one big fat dumb guy,” replies member Kevin McDonald. “He doesn’t think about issues—he thinks about the comedy.”
Forget the name: the Kids, all between 30 and 35, are comedy veterans. In 1984, Ottawa’s Mark McKinney, Calgary’s Bruce McCulloch and Torontonians McDonald and Dave Foley teamed up to take on the Toronto club circuit. Scott Thompson, of North Bay, Ont., joined in 1985. By 1989, Lome Michaels was in the Kids’ corner as executive producer of their half-hour Kids in the Hall show for the CBC and the U.S. cable station HBO. Last season, it moved from HBO to CBS, where it resumes in the fall. Filmed in Toronto, the show is pervaded by an urban absurdity that produces odd, yet oddly relevant, characters—among them Chicken Lady (McKinney), a libidinous avian, and ineffective evil-doer
Hecubus (Foley). The mix works: every Friday night, Kids in the Hall draws more than 500,000 viewers in Canada and a U.S. audience of six million. “Americans respond the same way Canadians do,” says McDonald. “Nothing’s getting lost in the translation.” At times, the joke is lost on network executives. In the show’s first season, the CBC refused to run a skit called Seuss’s Bible (“We kill Christ to Dr. Seuss verse,” says McDonald). In February, CBS decided that a skit about AIDS was too hot to handle. That decision rankles Thompson, the only openly gay man on network TV. “When? When will we be able to do AIDS?” he asks. “When there’s a cure? That’s not likely, unless Prince Edward gets it.”
What is likely is that the show’s 12:30 Friday airing will draw a spillover audience when David Letterman’s much-awaited 11:30 p.m. show makes its CBS debut in September. And by 1995, the Kids plan to release their first feature film. Its plot? “It’ll be about five guys being funny,” McDonald says. No kidding.
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