Yesterday, a miracle occurred: Amazon announced that it was bringing back The Kids in The Hall - all five of them! - for an all-new, eight-episode revival season. Team BMD basically melted down upon hearing this news: as lifelong comedy nerds, The Kids in The Hall ranks very high on our list of the greatest-ever sketch comedy series, and to have them coming back after all this time truly feels like a gift.
So, we're excited. Very excited. But we also know that some of you have probably never been exposed to The Kids in The Hall. As such, we took the time to put together a list of our favorite Kids in The Hall sketches, something that'll serve as a primer to those of you who've never seen this series and a timely reminder for those of you who haven't seen it in a while. There were, of course, literally hundreds of Kids in The Hall sketches to choose from - the series ran for over 100 episodes! - and we didn't really gravitate towards the lesser-known, deeper-cut sketches. Instead, we've put together a lineup of classics, sketches you absolutely need to see to understand the appeal and tone of this insane group of Canadians.
"The Daves I Know"
I probably couldn't prove this in a court of law, but I suspect that Bruce McCulloch's "The Daves I Know" is the first sketch most people think of when they think of Kids in The Hall. If I'm correct on that, it's understandable: "The Daves I Know" combines several classic KITH elements (the jaunty music, the borderline nonsensical premise, people appearing onscreen who are definitely not professional actors) and one helluva catchy tune into one powerhouse two-minute sketch. To watch "The Daves I Know" is to have "The Daves I Know" stuck in your head for hours, if not days afterward. You're welcome.
"The Pear Dream"
Every episode of The Kids In The Hall featured a healthy mix of pre-taped bits and live sketches. All KITH material skewed towards the weird, but the pre-taped stuff is where the Kids really went wild. These shorts were often unsettling in a hard-to-define way, some of them even bordering on the Lynchian (see also: "Sausages"). This one, "The Pear Dream" certainly ranks among the very best of those kinda sketches. I still think about this sketch, probably once a week. It's funny and hard to shake.
"Gavin - Butcher Shop"
Bruce McCulloch's Gavin was one of Kids in The Hall's many recurring characters, an aggressively precocious child with a talent for annoying the everloving shit out of whoever he encountered. Gavin went on many adventures and exasperated a great number of people over the years, but "Butcher Shop" is possibly our favorite iteration of this recurring sketch. Anyone who's ever spent time talking to someone else's obnoxiously know-it-all kid knows exactly what Kevin McDonald's character is feeling in this sketch.
To this day, every time we go to a fancy restaurant and get served a plate of food with a number of sauce-swirls loitering around the rim of the plate, we think of The Kids in The Hall's "Dipping Areas". The attention to detail here (just look at those painfully '90s vests the waitstaff is wearing! Look at Bruce's hair!) is exceptional, as is the way this sketch continues to build over the course of nearly five minutes. Exquisite.
"Head Crusher - Rival"
Mark McKinney's Head Crusher - literally just a guy who sits in public areas "crushing" people's heads at a distance between his index finger and thumb - was another recurring Kids in The Hall character. After a number of pre-taped sketches in which the Head Crusher waged war against Wall Street, the suburbs, and other environments where people tend to be strolling about, we arrived at "Head Crusher - Rival", wherein the Head Crusher finally met his match. Or did he?
The Zydeco music. Dave Foley's wig, Bruce McCulloch's mustache. Scott Thompson, in full Buddy Holly regalia, getting mercilessly shot to pieces mere moments after getting married. The detail of the rice-throwing lady outside the chapel, wearing the same dress every time. "Mr. Right" is a perfectly calibrated piece of work, and a fine example of how much story and detail the Kids could pack into one four-minute sketch. It's fantastic.
Like "The Daves I Know", "Citizen Kane" is another immortal Kids in The Hall sketch that probably ranks among its most well-known. Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley played off one another very well on this show (see also: "The King", also known as "Slipped My Mind"; I looked for, and could not find, that sketch to include here - sorry), and perhaps never better than they do here, with McDonald's character growing increasingly frustrated with Foley's complete inability to remember the name of a movie he recently watched (it was, without a doubt, Citizen Kane). Punctuated mid-sketch by an unexpected and hilarious burst of violence, "Citizen Kane" perfectly captures the intense frustration of a friend who will not listen to reason. A sketch comedy masterpiece.
"A Thousand Dollars"
A dark horse candidate for my personal, all-time favorite Kids in The Hall sketch, "A Thousand Dollars" aired as a cold open 17 episodes into the show's second season. It's one-joke sketch, stringing you along for just under a minute before delivering its stellar (no pun intended) punchline, but oh what a gag it is. Pure lunacy. The influence of Monty Python's Flying Circus comes through loud and clear on this one.
"Buddy Cole - Softball Sluggers"
Buddy Cole was Scott Thompson's own recurring character, and what an icon he was. Flamboyantly gay and often glimpsed delivering monologues from a stool inside his bar ("Shooters!"), Buddy Cole sketches were hilarious, gorgeously written and, quite frequently, very dirty. We could have picked any number of Buddy Cole sketches for this list, but "Softball Sluggers", wherein Buddy finds himself roped into coaching a lesbian softball team, is the one we think about the most. By the way: it's worth pointing out that no one on television was doing this kind of material back in the early '90s, one of the many reasons that Kids in The Hall's legacy is cemented in the progressive just as much as it was the subversive.
"Chicken Lady - Phone Sex"
Mark McKinney, meanwhile, had his own overly-sexualized recurring character: the Chicken Lady. Prone to explosive orgasms and, well, lots of very loud screeching, the Chicken Lady feels like a recurring SNL character from a very troubling dimension. Here she is having phone sex with Scott Thompson's dudebro character. She's not very good at it.
Sometimes an episode of Kids in The Hall would feature a recurring sketch within the episode, as evidenced by the above video, which collects one ep's Flying Pig mythology into one easy-to-view video. Again we find McCulloch wringing laughs out of the absurd and inexplicable. Imagine pitching this character, this series of sketches, to current-day Saturday Night Live ("Maybe. Is there a way for Baldwin to be in there as Trump?" would be the likely response). I don't want to spoil the twist of where the Flying Pig saga ends up, but do stick with it through the very end.
Up there with "Daves I Know" and "Citizen Kane" is "My Pen", a sketch which will change the way you look at pens in public settings for the rest of your life. Shot in black and white and with occasional bits of score which evoke an episode of The Twilight Zone, the sketch finds Bruce McCulloch's highly excitable office drone losing his goddamn marbles over a missing pen. Rest assured, Bruce is gonna get that pen back, one way or another.
Another showcase sketch for McCulloch's talents, "Salty Ham" is mostly about a husband who is absolutely outraged at the saltiness of the dinner his wife (Scott Thompson) made that evening. McCulloch turns in a tour de force performance here (was Bruce the most gifted physical comedian in this group? Discuss), ranting and raving and chugging a pitcher of water while coming up with a truly astounding number of ways to say "the ham was too damn salty." Perfection.
"30 Helens Agree"
In addition to pre-taped and live sketches, The Kids in The Hall also featured pre-taped interstitial bits. Not full-blown sketches, mind you, but quick transitional segments that were often over and done with in under a minute. The "It's a fact!" girl (FUN FACT: Who is now, according to McKinney, a provincial judge in Canada), for instance, or The 30 Helens. Taken on their own, these interstitial segments aren't as biting or funny as the rest of the KITH's output, but they were integral to the overall feel and tone of the show. As such, we've included one of the 30 Helens bits here. Does right what it says on the tin: an announcer introduces 30 Helens, they agree on something - offering a bit of commentary along the way - and then the show moves along to something else.
Dave Foley plays the exceptionally drunk dad to a young Kevin McDonald, who offers remembrances of his horrible father via monologue. "Daddy Drank"? Did he ever. Dark and probably more than a little problematic, we recall this particular episode getting lots and lots of play when it aired in reruns on Comedy Central. A strong sketch, a disturbing sketch, and an excellent performance from Foley. That's a win-win-win, folks.
BONUS: "Censored Sketches"
Eventually, The Kids in The Hall wrapped its run, and when it did it went out on a high note. That series finale is an all-timer, and chief among its many excellent sketches was this segment, called "Censored Sketches". As the name implies, the bit finds Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley showcasing a number of sketches that Canadian censors blocked them from putting on the air during the show's run. While that's almost certainly not really the case with what we're shown here, it was a delight to see the Kids trotting out some of their darker, more blatantly offensive ideas as the show drew to a close. Also, we dare you to ever picture Hitler ("That's not just a bad man, son. That there's Hitler.") the same way again.