The troupe made one movie, Brain Candy, which was released in 1996. The troupe reformed for various tours and comedy festivals in 2000. They released an eight-part miniseries, Death Comes to Town in January, 2010.
The name of the group came from Sid Caesar, who, if a joke didn't go over, or played worse than expected, would attribute it to "the kids in the hall", referring to a group of young writers hanging around the studio.
Before the troupe formed, Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney were working together doing Theatresports in Calgary, performing in a group named "The Audience". Norm Hiscock, Gary Campbell, and Frank Van Keeken were co-members and later became writers on the show. At the same time, Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald were performing around Toronto (along with Luciano Casimiri) as The Kids in the Hall (KITH). In 1984, the two pairs met in Toronto, and began performing regularly as KITH, with a rotating band of members, including Paul Bellini for a short time. When Scott Thompson was invited to join in January 1985, the group had its final form. The same year, McCulloch and Foley appeared in the Anne of Green Gables series, as Diana Barry's husband and a former classmate of Anne's from the fictional Queen's College, respectively.
Not long afterwards, the Kids broke up for a short time when scouts for Saturday Night Live invited McKinney and McCulloch to New York to become writers for that show, Foley made a poorly received movie debut with High Stakes and Thompson and McDonald worked with the Second City touring group. They were reunited in 1986. After SNL's Lorne Michaels saw them perform as a troupe, plans began for a TV show. In 1987 Michaels sent them to New York to what was essentially a "Comedy Boot Camp", and in 1988 their pilot special aired on CBC Television and in the United States on HBO before debuting as a series in 1989.
Despite their SNL connection, the show's sketches were more reminiscent of Monty Python's Flying Circus: often quirky or surreal, frequently utilizing drag, with very few celebrity impressions or pop cultureparodies; the only recurring celebrity impression was of Queen Elizabeth II, played by Thompson. A recurring character was Mr. Tyzik, played by McKinney, who pretended to crush people's heads from a distance with his fingers. McKinney also played Chicken Lady, a shrill-voiced sexually excitable human-chicken hybrid. Another prominent recurring character was Cabbage Head, played by McCulloch, who was a gruff-voiced cigar-smoking misogynist who would frequently use the fact that he had cabbage in place of hair as a means to generate pity in the hopes of getting women into bed. Many of the sketches featured gay characters and themes; most of these sketches were written by and starred Scott Thompson, who is gay.
The Kids frequently appeared as themselves rather than as characters, and some sketches dealt directly with the fact that they were a comedy troupe producing a TV show. For example, Kevin McDonald announces that if the next sketch (which he has written) is not successful, the others are considering kicking him out of the group. In another episode, Thompson declares that he isn't gay anymore, which throws the other Kids into a panic, as they fear that the news will alienate the troupe's considerable gay fanbase. In yet another sketch (in which an employee, Foley, asks his boss, McDonald, for a raise) McDonald complains the setup is cliché and his character one-dimensional.
Monologues were a staple of the show. Though Scott Thompson's Buddy Cole monologues are the best known, the other Kids performed solo pieces as well. McCulloch in particular performed monologues that consisted of him, acting as himself, telling hyperbolic stories of the struggles and day to day experiences in his life and/or the lives of others. Prominent examples from the other Kids include Foley describing his positive attitude toward menstruation, McKinney in character as a high-pitched recluse who's describing with intense fascination his hideously infected and bruised toe, and in a gag reminiscent of Bob Newhart, a distraught McDonald calling a best friend's young son to tell him his father died, only to have the child end up consoling him, even going so far as quoting famous philosophers on the ultimate emptiness of life.
The show originated in Canada, and the content was at times edited slightly for U.S. broadcast tastes. Sketches mocking religion were sometimes cut down or removed, necessitating the addition of material from other episodes to round out the half-hour. Some US channels censored the occasional nudity as well, such as when Foley revealed to Thompson he had inexplicably grown breasts. Among the more controversial sketches was the final sketch of Season 1, "Dr. Seuss Bible", in which the troupe tells the story of Jesus Christ's crucifixion in the style of children's author Dr. Seuss.
Though the show occasionally featured guest actors (notably Neve Campbell and Nicole de Boer well before they became famous), the Kids played nearly all parts, both male and female, themselves. In contrast to Monty Python, where the members often donned drag to portray older women, but usually utilized women such as Carol Cleveland and Connie Booth to play female characters who were young and attractive, all the Kids regularly played both old and young women; the frequent cross-dressing would become one of the show's trademarks. Female impersonation had begun during their stage show, because they found themselves writing female characters but had no female member to play them. As Scott Thompson explained, "The way we played women ... we weren't winking at the audience ... We were never, like, going, 'Oh, look at me! I'm a guy in a dress!' Never. We would always try to be real, and that, I think, freaked people out..."
The CBC aired the show through its entire run. Seasons 1–3 aired on HBO. In the fall of 1992, CBS picked up the show and aired it on late-night Fridays showing repeats, while HBO aired new episodes of season three. In 1993, CBS aired new episodes starting with season four. The final season aired on Fridays after The Late Show With David Letterman. The series finale aired in November 1994. In January 1995, it was replaced with The Late Late Show.
Recurring sketches and characters
30 Helens Agree
Thirty women stand in a field and declare their agreement on some platitude; for example, "Thirty Helens agree: If you have a good idea, you should write it down." One time they disagreed, but later agreed to disagree. At one point, only 29 Helens agreed that promptness was important (the thirtieth Helen was running late). The Helens appeared frequently throughout the first season, but did not appear in any subsequent seasons. According to Bruce McCulloch (in the Oral History segment of the Season 1 DVD set), 30 Helens Agree was his idea.
The Axe Murderer
An axe murderer (Foley) approaches people for favours after he has obviously committed a brutal and grisly homicide with the axe he's carrying. Covered in blood, he makes polite small talk with people he runs into, casually admitting he is, in fact, an axe murderer. Before leaving, he amiably asks whoever he talks to not to tell anyone or "Chop chop!", accompanied by a chopping motion with his axe.
Bauer (Thompson) is a young stoner (presumably in his late teens or early twenties) who, as a result of his frequent pot use, is very well-spoken and insightful. In one popular sketch, he reveals to a friend (McDonald) that he's been having an affair with his married mother (Foley), which of course is very unsettling to McDonald. Bauer waxes poetic about the mother's beauty, then stands up, announcing he's "got a chub-on". Bauer first appeared on the show as the best friend of Bobby Terrance (see below), but later became a recurring character in his own right.
Bobby (McCulloch) is a rebellious teenager whose love of rock'n'roll serves as the basis for most of his sketches. Bobby views rock as an expression of personal freedom, and always fights back when he feels like he is being denied that freedom. He is frequently in conflict with his parents, played by McKinney (father) and Foley (mother). He has also taken on a sarcastic jazz-loving teacher (Foley), and once even faced off against the Devil himself (McKinney) in a guitar-playing contest. Despite his rebellious attitude toward authority, he emphatically enjoys the taste of his mother's ham steak. A pre-Star TrekNicole de Boer appeared in three sketches as Bobby's girlfriend Laura. He, like Bauer above are a tongue-in-cheek satire of the rebellious late-80/1990s Grunge/Generation X subculture.
Buddy Cole is an effeminate, gay socialite, with a penchant for going on long, comedic rants about his personal life and the gay community. He also frequently drops celebrity names, insinuating that he has many close friendships with the rich and famous. He is penpals with Elizabeth II. His monologues are often delivered from the gay bar he owns, which is called Buddy's.
Cabbage Head (McCulloch) was born with cabbage leaves in place of hair. He also always smokes cigars and wears a red smoking jacket à la Hugh Hefner. He is extremely crude and sexist, and spends most of his time trying to pick up women for sex, using his cabbage head in an attempt to garner sympathy and, hopefully, sex ("Hey – I'm the KING of the mercy fuck!" he declares in his first appearance). In one episode, he is shot in the head at a bar by a feminist crusader (also played by McCulloch) and, in a near-death experience, sees God, who said he created Cabbage Head in his image, at which point God is revealed to have a cabbage for a head himself. Later we see Cabbage Head on a Christian talk show talking about his miraculous survival, although he continues to hold sexist viewpoints, as evidenced by his promotion of a "sacred wet T-shirt contest – er, I mean, baptism" he was conducting. Whenever anyone objects to his odd behavior, he always insists he is being persecuted for his cabbage head. "Why won't you let me forget that I have a CABBAGE FOR A HEAD?!?"
Cathy and Kathie
Kathie (McCulloch) and Cathy (Thompson) are secretaries at the firm of A.T. & Love (KITH's catch-all business, and a play on AT&T). These sketches parodied the banality of office life, from guessing the sexuality of the new guy to dealing with an ex-stripper temp named Tanya (McKinney). A few sketches also included Kevin McDonald as another coworker and Dave Foley as their supervisor Elizabeth. In the middle of the third season, Tanya finished her term of employment and left the office amidst feigned tearfulness from her coworkers; however, she reappeared in the fifth season, once again working at the firm as a temp. The final sketch of the series was about Cathy and Kathie, as they prepared to leave their jobs after A.T. & Love was sold.
Kathie appeared independently of Cathy in the first season, where it was revealed that she once dated Mississippi Gary (see below). A picture of him was on her cubicle wall in all subsequent appearances.
Mark McKinney played a half-human half-chicken who is completely oblivious to how freakish and terrifying people find her. In one episode, she flashes back to a moment from her adolescence when she is stuck in her room as the other kids have a party; one kid (who is expecting a sexual encounter) is thrown inside her room as a prank. In another sketch, she visits a strip club with her companion the Bearded Lady (Kevin McDonald), and loses her cool when a dancer known as Rooster Boy (Scott Thompson) takes the stage. Most Chicken Lady sketches revolve around her extremely strong sexual desires; her catchphrase is "Gotta get laid", and she is frequently seen having wild orgasms which are punctuated with an explosion of feathers.
A businessman, played by Scott Thompson, who was featured in a number of sketches. He is an executive at A.T. & Love, a company that also makes many appearances in unrelated sketches. In one sketch it is discovered that Danny used to be a porn star. In another, his armpit odor becomes a best-selling, world-changing product. In a third, he wakes up one morning and reads the newspaper, which states he has been kidnapped, after which he desperately gathers money to pay his own ransom. In yet another, Danny is summoned to the office of his boss, who needs to be consoled upon discovering "brown stuff" oozing from his mouth. Husk is successful in his consolation when he tells his boss that there is "no need to see a doctor" since the substance is odorless, and therefore, not "poo-based". In many of his appearances, Husk serves as a straight man to the wacky antics of one of the others. Dave Foley had a recurring role as Husk's rotund boss. Danny Husk ended up appearing in approximately a dozen sketches through seasons 1, 3, 4 and 5. Additionally, a variation of Husk, named Wally Terzinsky, appeared in the Kids' 1996 movie Brain Candy.
A lifestyle talk show host played by McDonald. Her guests include a French-speaking fashion designer named Christian Renoir and recurring character Francesca Fiore (Thompson). Darcy has trouble pronouncing the names of her guests, such as saying "Christ-aan Ren-aah" when announcing her guest Christian Renoir. The audience is also practically empty. The theme song to the talk show goes "Darcy, Darcy, Darcy Pennell, she makes your life a lot less hell. Darcy!"
A man (McKinney) named Darill (pronounced da-RILL), who never quite understands what is going on, but always tries to affect an air of sophistication. Darill's strange mix of sunny good will, idiocy and pretense annoys everyone he meets, although he is rarely aware of it. Famous Darill sketches involve him hosting a painting show on television, and joining the Big Brother program and mentoring an unreceptive boy. The background for Darill's strange behavior is explained somewhat in one sketch, in which we see a flashback of Darill as a child in Belgium, and the strange rapport he enjoys with his mother (whom he still lives with, much to the confusion of the date he has brought back to his apartment). One sketch also reveals that the only thing he ever daydreams about is a tiny oom-pah band playing on a windowsill, and is astonished when he discovers others don't have that limitation. After the end of the The Kids in the Hall television show, Mark McKinney became a Saturday Night Live cast member, and brought Darill onto that show.
Francesca Fiore and Bruno Puntz Jones
Francesca Fiore (Thompson) and Bruno Puntz Jones (Foley) are a pair of fast-living, glamorous movie stars. Though they originally hail from South America, their films have a decidedly European flavor. Francesca Fiore is fiery and passionate, and tends to be overdramatic and expressive in her actions. Bruno Puntz Jones (who always wears a white suit and a Panama hat) is very cool and reserved, but inwardly seems to share Francesca's spirit. Bruno occasionally likes to play Russian Roulette alone, a practice he refers to dismissively as "my little game". He is also prone to shooting people with little or no warning, usually when he feels Francesca is being threatened. The two always play lovers in their films together; they seem to be romantically involved in real life as well, though the exact relationship between them is not made clear. In court, where Francesca was facing divorce (for a fake marriage to gain Canadian citizenship) from Mr. Tisane (another recurring character), Bruno revealed he and she were married when he was 12 and she was 26. According to the crew, Foley's character was originally named Bruno Puntz, but when the writers decided to change his last name to Jones, they wrote the word "Jones" in without deleting "Puntz", accidentally creating a compound name.
Gavin (McCulloch) is a precocious boy whose chief personality trait is his tendency to ramble on incessantly about bizarre events that may or may not have actually occurred. Most Gavin sketches featured him confusing or annoying strangers with his usually-implausible wonderings; he once observed that he could eat an entire Bible, but it would take him "several days of munching and snacking". One sketch, however, saw Gavin falling in love with his babysitter (McDonald) because she actually understood him. He has a tense relationship with his parents, particularly his deadbeat father (McDonald). Gavin's look is very distinctive; he wears large, oversized glasses and is almost always seen sporting a baseball cap (which usually has either the Toronto Blue Jays or The Legend Of Zelda logo on it) and backpack.
Gordon and Fran
Gordon (McCulloch) and Fran (Thompson) are a middle-aged couple. Gordon is very crotchety, and is usually seen complaining in any sketch he appears in, and occasionally seems to enjoy tormenting his wife. His wife Fran is well-meaning and slightly batty, but has a tendency to nag. The most famous Gordon and Fran sketch is probably "Salty Ham", in which Gordon blames his trouble going to sleep on the salty ham Fran served at dinner. Their teenage son Brian (Foley) is sarcastic and rebellious, and is always eager to take advantage of his parents' generosity.
Mr. Tyzik (McKinney) is a lonely man who despises virtually everyone, especially those he considers businessmen and trendy people. He calls them "flatheads" because in his mind, their heads deserve to be crushed. He is more than willing to help by pretending to crush their heads from a distance with his fingers, using forced perspective, while enthusiastically declaring "I'm crushing your head! I'm crushing your head!" in a high-pitched nasal voice with a slight eastern European accent, followed by making a crushing noise. In his own words: "Not everyone deserves to have their head crushed, just 99.99999% of them." It is suggested that the headcrushing is not necessarily all in his head, in one sketch, where he is able to quickly determine that the heads of two people passing by have already been crushed by a "facepincher", with whom he proceeds to have a duel.
He's Hip, He's Cool, He's 45
Bruce McCulloch played a middle-aged man who would do odd things to "keep his cool" despite being middle-aged. In one sketch he interviews a man for a job, first asking if the man wants to smoke a joint.
It's a Fact!
A young red-haired girl would pop up in the forest and reveal a piece of information, usually illustrated by people appearing behind her. She would end by saying, "It's a fact!" and then run off. The running was filmed in stop-animated "fast-motion", reminiscent of programs on the Nickelodeon network.
The King of Empty Promises
Dean (McDonald) constantly promises his friend Lex (Foley) items or favours to make up for his lack of follow-through on previous promises, his deadpan pledges punctuated with the phrase, "Will do." Whenever he is confronted about a promise he didn't keep, Dean's standard excuse for his behaviour is that it "slipped my mind".
Kevin McDonald mentions on the commentary that Dean is based on himself. He has been known to make promises that he would never follow through on, and even the Paul Simon album he mentions in the first "King" sketch was an actual promise he made to a friend that he never managed to fulfill.
An octogenarian blues player played by McKinney in blackface. He first appeared in a sketch in which he talked about his failed relationship with "Kathy with a K" (McCulloch) from the Secretary sketches and soon grew into a recurring character. His name and style of speech suggest that he may be a parody of the blues guitarist Mississippi Fred McDowell. Gary would always begin a long, blues-related story with the words "Now, I seem to remember a time..." in a deep Mississippi accent before launching into a harmonica solo or blues song. His songs include "The 'There is a Very Effective Heckler in My Audience' Blues" (in a sketch where Dave Foley, in the audience, points out that Gary actually has very little to complain about as he makes over $10,000 a night) and "Smokin' On the Night Train".
Mr. Heavyfoot (M. Piedlourde)
Dave Foley as an apparently French man who for reasons that are never explained has extremely heavy feet. The Heavyfoot sketches, which were short and contained no dialogue, usually dealt with the extreme difficulty his condition presented for him in everyday situations, such as putting on pants and walking around or taking a year to complete a marathon.
"Monsieur Piedlourd" is a parody of the famous character "Monsieur hulot" from celeb actor, film maker, Jacques Tati.
Nobody Likes Us
Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald played two depressed men with perpetual frowns on their faces who spoke in whiny voices and always complained that people didn't like them. They would often engage in bizarre behavior, including hanging themselves in front of a banker's house (after she rejected them for a loan), eating earthworms on a bus trip (after singing "Think I'll Go Eat Worms!" ), and McDonald coughing up his own liver (and eating it) as a magic trick on a date.
Foley and McDonald have mentioned that they originally wrote the sketch on an airplane when their flight attendant was purposely ignoring them. Foley then turned to McDonald with a pouty face and said, "Nobody likes us."
The Pit of Ultimate Darkness (Simon and Hecubus)
A horror-themed TV show which tries to be scary but fails, hosted by Crowleyesque Sir Simon Milligan (McDonald), "a man possessed by many demons – polite demons that would open a door for a lady carrying too many parcels – but demons, nonetheless!" His level of "wickedness" is such that his behavior and magic acts basically consist of doing something mildly annoying or rude – such as spoiling the endings of movies – then loudly declaring it "Evil!" Dave Foley co-starred as Simon's manservant Hecubus (made up to resemble the character of Cesare from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), whose sense of child-like mischief provided much of the sketches' humor. While superficially he appears to be Milligan's fawning lackey, even addressing Milligan as "Master", he actually delights in annoying Milligan at every opportunity, and is at least slightly more talented at being evil. At such times, Milligan will point at him and yell, "Evil!"
The other members of the cast often ribbed McDonald and ask why he hadn't named his character in the Hecubus scene — knowing full well that the character was named Simon — because fans typically would only remember Foley's part of the sketch. According to DVD commentary, McDonald was originally to play Hecubus, with McKinney as Simon; but McDonald lobbied for the role of Simon and, after winning it, insisted that Foley should play Hecubus.
Brief vignettes featuring McKinney and McCulloch as a pair of Ontario Provincial Police officers, usually standing beside their squad car, making banal small-talk while rarely doing actual police work. One such sketch featured McKinney describing a homicide and police chase in technical detail, but it is revealed that he's describing a movie he saw (rather than an actual homicide), and has no idea what the story is with the actual dead body the two cops are standing over. The characters originated in the full-length sketch "On the Run", in which the two cops try to pursue a group of escaped convicts without looking conspicuous. According to DVD commentary, McKinney and McCulloch, during a break in shooting that particular sketch, began to improvise several short scenes revolving around those two characters for fun; some of their improvisations were incorporated into the show, and proved so popular they became a fixture. The duo have the distinction of being the show's most frequently used recurring characters; they were also carried over into Brain Candy and Death Comes to Town.
Prostitutes (Maudre and Jocelyn)
Maudre (Thompson) and Jocelyn (Foley) are prostitutes who solicit customers on the street. Maudre is blonde and brassy, but with a definite soft side. Jocelyn is a brunette from Quebec who speaks softly in a French Canadian accent. The two often pass the time by discussing aspects of their profession, such as whether they would accept an offer from an extraterrestrial. In another sketch, a policeman (McCulloch; see "Police Department" above) ineptly poses as a customer while his partner (McKinney), in uniform, stands a few feet away hoping to bust them. Kevin McDonald occasionally appeared as Rudy, their asthmaticpimp.
Rod Torfulson's Armada featuring Herman Menderchuk
A very bad garage band with no hope of ever becoming real rock stars, but they nevertheless take themselves very seriously and argue constantly about every aspect of their career, sound and look. The sketches starred Bruce McCulloch as Rod (the drummer), Mark McKinney as Herman (the bass player), and Kevin McDonald as the lead guitarist. A recurring theme was Rod's and Herman's abusive treatment of McDonald's character, the only one with talent. (He is the only one whose name is not part of the group's name; in one sketch, he is forced to begin paying the others a salary in order to avoid being kicked out of the band.) "Trampoline Girl" is just one of their many non-hits. ("She's a tramp, she's tramp, she's a trampoline girl...") In their appearance in the final episode, a Rock and Roll Angel (portrayed by Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson) appears from on high and shows them their wretched future ("You suck!"), but they still persist in believing that someday they will "make it".
Foley and McDonald played two clearly insane people (although they always introduced themselves as "not two clearly insane people"), who wore large wigs and identified themselves as Jerry Sizzler and Jerry Sizzler, the Sizzler Sisters. They were usually seen doing insane things, such as posing as a capella lounge singers, robbing a bank in order to make a deposit and then forcing people to mix up their shoes. In one sketch, Foley's character (whose real name is revealed to be Lister) has become sane through medication and is happily married. McDonald's character (whose real name is revealed to be Jean-Pierre) comes to Lister's apartment and urges him into become insane again, causing him stress and then withholding his medication. McDonald mentioned in an interview that he and Foley thought up the characters while running through the Kathie and Cathy beauty pageant sketch ("T.G.I.N.P.!"). Because they were bored, they started improvising that they were crazy people who escaped from an asylum; using the wigs (that they were wearing as background pageant contestants in the sketch) as their "disguises". They wrote the Sizzler & Sizzler sketch shortly thereafter.
Three young stereotypical gay men sit on the steps of a café discussing current events — particularly those concerning the gay community. Riley (Foley) is an effeminate airhead, "Butch" (Thompson) is an oversexed airhead who always talks about "hot" men, and Smitty (McDonald) is an intelligent fop who is usually exasperated by the other two.
The "Steps" sketches commemorated a long-time touchstone in Toronto's gay community: a small series of steps running the length of an office and retail building in the Church Wellesley Village. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the steps were a classic meeting place and hangout for gay Torontonians. However, in 2003, the steps were remodeled to remove their inviting long stretches. The local businesses at the top of them — including a Second Cup coffee shop, a bakery, a convenience store and a Toronto Dominion Bank branch — felt the large number of street kids hanging out there and the increasing occurrence of drug transactions and prostitution was hurting their businesses.
Tammy (McCulloch) is a vapid teen pop star who sings in a breathy monotone; her songs are bland, repetitive, and somewhat nonsensical. In her first appearance, she is introduced as a protégée of Buddy Cole, but at the end of the sketch he realizes that Tammy no longer needs his help. Tammy is known for her vague, noncommittal replies to questions asked of her, and for being seemingly incapable of any complex thought. Her hits include "Dance", "Perhaps", and "Ain't Gonna Spread for No Roses".
The Two Geralds
McCulloch and McKinney played businessmen who shared both a first name and very similar personalities. Both Geralds are friendly to people's faces and condescending behind their backs. Despite the fact that they appear to work at different companies, they are friends who frequently phone each other and hang out together. Their conversation consists mainly of bouts of humorous negotiations and mockery of their associates or other business rivals.
Selected other sketches
Two extraterrestrials (played by Foley and McDonald) are on a spaceship orbiting the Earth. They have just abducted a redneck and are in the middle of inserting a probe into his anus. After a scream of pain from the victim, they erase his memory and send him back to Earth. They then proceed to have a coffee break, during which Foley's character begins pondering the point of what they do. "We travel 250,000 light years across the universe, abduct humans, probe them anally, and release them." McDonald's alien does not understand why the other is questioning the leadership of the "Great Leader". Foley's alien goes on to say that in the 50 years they've been doing this, the only thing they've learned is that "one in 10 doesn't really seem to mind" and that he suspects their "Great Leader" may be "just some sort of twisted ass freak". Foley argues that they should at least probe political or religious leaders instead of "any idiot in a pickup truck".
The Cause of Cancer
Dave Foley, as himself, addresses the audience and informs them that the Kids have done something very unusual for a comedy troupe; while rehearsing this past week, they discovered the cause of cancer. He brings Bruce McCulloch on stage to explain more about it. With some reluctance, McCulloch finally admits, "I'm sorry I caused all that cancer."
Two couples, after finishing a meal together, sit down to chat. Bram (Thompson) unfastens his pants; his wife Nina (McKinney) is slightly embarrassed, but the other couple insist that it's all right, that they shouldn't feel embarrassed about doing anything in front of old friends. Bram proceeds to take the idea to the extreme, first flirting and then copulating with the other woman (McDonald) while her unconcerned husband Tom (Foley) chats with Nina about his own impotence and his past experimentation with homosexuality. Nina, trying to join in the spirit of defying convention, confesses that she and Bram hated the lamp that the other couple once gave them; this is too much, and the party is ruined.
The Communist Threat
Dave Foley appears as a political commentator who attempts to warn people about the continuing threat of Russia and communism.
McCulloch plays a squash obsessed executive, who, parodying masked wrestlers, walks around wearing a black ski mask, and never reveals his secret identity, calling himself "The Eradicator", which he often yells in a high-pitched voice while he plays his favorite game.
Girl Drink Drunk
Foley plays a businessman, Ray, who is having a meeting at a bar with his boss (McDonald). His boss is telling Ray that he has been promoted to Vice President, and offers to buy him a drink. Ray demurs, saying he never drinks because he doesn't like the taste of alcohol. Ray's boss tells him that there are drinks "that taste like candy, girl drinks", and orders him a "Chocolate Choo Choo". Ray tries it, and soon his life is spiraling out of control as he goes from bar to bar seeking out "girl drinks". At one point, we see Ray in his office, sneaking a blender into a supply closet so he can make a Margarita. Ray loses his job due to his drinking, and at the end of the sketch, we see Ray, homeless, in a park.
Hey You Millionaires!
The first sketch to appear on television, in the pilot episode, Bruce McCulloch drinks some water and looks out the window to see three millionaires (Foley, McDonald, and Thompson) rummaging through his garbage cans out his window. He shouts, "Hey you millionaires! Get out of that garbage!", and the three run away. The Chicago comedy trio, Hey You Millionaires, took their name from this sketch.
Love and Sausages
One of the more surreal short films in the show, containing minimal dialogue and apparently set in a dystopian future society. It features a man (McCulloch) who works at a draconian sausage factory and falls in love with a woman who works there kissing the boxes so they have the company's lipstick logo. Too nervous to talk to her, the man, who had stolen some sausages for his deranged, sausage-obsessed father (Thompson), leaves them on her doorstep anonymously. Knowing he can never lead a normal life while caring for his gibbering idiot father, he resigns himself to loneliness.
One sketch featured an employee (McCulloch) at a counter who loans a customer (McDonald) his ballpoint. After conducting his business, the customer absentmindedly pockets the pen and walks off. The employee sets off in a mad pursuit, all the while screaming "MY PEN!" The employee chases the customer outside, in time to see him climbing into a taxi. He has horrific fantasies of the customer sticking the pen into his ear, using it to stab a bystander, and reinserting the bloody pen into his own ear. The employee chases the taxi down the street and, leaping through the air, lands on the vehicle, holding onto the passenger side door with his finger tips. After a drive around town, the taxi pulls over, the customer issues a cursory apology before returning the pen, after which the employee curls up with it in the street, and some of his co-workers come out with a comfort blanket to collect him. The sketch ends with another customer asking for the pen, only for the audience to see that the employee now wears a large, weighty helmet with a chinstrap and a chain attached at the forehead, the other end of which secures the pen. This short film, as well as many other The Kids in the Hall shorts, was directed by Michael Kennedy.
Five men (played by all the Kids) are sitting around a campfire in a junkyard, drinking toasts to their dead friend Reg and reminiscing about good times shared with him. Although they start out talking about typical things such as his generosity and his ice skating skill, they gradually reveal that they ritualistically murdered him.
Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney sing a song about a "great folk hero", "Running Faggot" (played by Scott Thompson). Running Faggot aids various people while running through the wilderness, including a boy whose puppy is hungry (Kevin McDonald) by suggesting he feed it puppy food, and a gunman (Dave Foley) surrounded by "ten thousand angry Indians on all sides" by suggesting simply "talking to them".
The Daves I Know
While singing a song, Bruce McCulloch walks around a city block, introducing the camera to his many acquaintances called 'Dave'. One of these Daves, Dave Capisano, is unfamiliar to McCulloch, who sings "I hardly know him", then looks vaguely uncomfortable for the rest of the song's lyricless measure. The song was later included on McCulloch's 1995 album, Shame-Based Man, along with other KiTH-related material.
Jacques (Foley) and François (McDonald) are colonial-era French trappers who paddle a canoe through the cube farm of an office building in a modern-day city, hunting businessmen and women for their pelts (their expensive designer suits). Upon seeing a maimed businessman hobble away after chewing off his own leg to free himself from a bear trap, Jacques tells François to let him go, as his strong spirit may one day make him vice-president. At night, the trappers make camp around a campfire in the office and promise each other not to over hunt this new game like they did the beaver in times past. At the end of the sketch, Foley and McDonald paddle their canoe to a local clothier owned by Thompson, and reveal their bounty, including "many fine Armani" from "yesterday's kill". They like to sing the song "Alouette" (which appropriately enough, originated with the French-Canadian fur trade). Foley and McDonald would later reprise the characters opposite Scott Thompson's Buddy Cole in the episode-length sketch "Chalet 2000".
As the show was produced in Toronto, there are numerous references to the city's professional sports teams, the Blue Jays and the Maple Leafs.
The phrase "took me to a Leafs game" was used as a euphemism for an attempted male-on-male sexual encounter. The gag originated in a sketch in which Scott Thompson played a homophobic man who took offense at another man's (McKinney) attempt to seduce him by taking him to a Maple Leafs game: "Every time I come to this city, some guy picks me up at the bus station, takes me to a Leaf game, gets me pissed, then tries to blow me. Why can't people like me for me?"
In the Cheers argument, two characters argue which leading actress was better in the show, Shelley Long or Kirstie Alley. The argument stems from an inside joke between Foley and McDonald, who debated this issue in real life.Cheers and its leading ladies are mentioned in multiple episodes by multiple characters, such as Francesca Fiore, the OPP Officers, and even the Kids portraying themselves.
A&E Home Video released the entire series as a Region 1 20-disc DVD box set titled The Kids in the Hall: Complete Series Megaset 1989–1994, on October 31, 2006. The HBO special pilot was released on DVD on August 14, 2007 through Medialink Entertainment, a VDI Entertainment Company, in a special "Headcrushing" edition. It had never been released on home video before. Medium Rare Entertainment released a Region 2 "best of" DVD on September 24, 2007. Rights to The Kids in the Hall are owned by Broadway Video. A tour-exclusive DVD, produced in cooperation with Crackle and released as a part of the "Live As We'll Ever Be!" tour (2008), features the 50-minute retrospective and Q&A held on January 26, 2008.
The final episode featured resolutions for several recurring characters, including Armada, Buddy Cole, and the secretaries of AT & Love. As the closing credits play, the cast is shown being buried alive, below a headstone reading The Kids in the Hall TV Show 1989–1995 (though the pilot aired in 1988). At the episode's conclusion, guest character Paul Bellini, one of the show's writers, dances on their grave and speaks for the first time: "Thank God that's finally over!"
After the show ended its run, the troupe came together to produce a movie, Brain Candy, featuring a few characters from the show and many new ones. Although not a commercial success, the movie developed a cult following with their devoted fans.
2000 North American Tour
In 2000, the troupe reformed for a successful North American tour, reprising many sketches from the show. The sketch line-up for the 2000 show was:
AT & Love Reunion
Mr. Heavyfoot Finds His Seat
Buddy Cole – The Year 2000
Head Crusher / Face Pincher
Sir Simon Milligan & Hecubus in: The Pit of Ultimate Darkness
Gavin: Painting a chair
Chicken Lady's Date
Power of the Suburbs
Bloody Salty Ham
Monologue by Brian on having a party when Fran and Gordon go on Vacation
Fran: Brian's Bombshell
Jesus Christ Superstar
Encore: To Reg
At some shows:
The Poker Game
The tour was chronicled in a documentary, Kids in the Hall: Same Guys, New Dresses, which followed the next year. This was then followed by the "Tour of Duty" and a DVD based on those performances, released in 2002.
"Just for Laughs" ("Juste Pour Rire") Comedy Festival
In July 2007, the troupe reunited to perform at the 25th Annual "Just for Laughs" ("Juste Pour Rire") Comedy Festival in Montreal.
The Just For Laughs show premiered around 90 minutes of new material. While certain characters made reappearances (Buddy Cole, Mr. Tyzik and McKinney and McCulloch's "smooth-talking" salesmen) the rest of the show revolved around entirely new material. Typically good-humored, the group poked numerous jokes at their own recent weight gain and the state of their post-Kids acting careers.
Among the sketches:
The Kids plan a new show. For the opening they decide to rape McDonald to the theme from Footloose.
Salesmen (McCulloch and McKinney) promote a device which can siphon fat from the American gut and use it to power SUVs.
"Carfuckers": a group of mechanics who share a "love for which there is no name". The sketch was produced by an internet studio called "60Frames Entertainment".
Foley and McCulloch fight over an imaginary girlfriend.
The Chicken Lady has phone sex (one of two sketches recreated from the television show).
The relationship woes of a gay couple (Foley and Thompson) are placated with the help of another married gay couple known as Peter and the Professor (McDonald and McKinney).
Superdrunk: a superhero who stops crimes by drinking (McCulloch), assisted by his trusty sidekick, the bartender (Foley).
The show finished with Mr. Tyzik (McKinney) mocking the mannerisms and careers of each member of the troupe, after which he promptly crushed their heads.
The group also performed on January 26–27, 2008 at the SF Sketchfest. On January 26 there was a retrospective and Q&A with the group.
2008 North American Tour
On April 4, 2008, The Kids in the Hall embarked on their first major national tour in six years. The tour ran through early June 2008 and included more than 30 cities in the US and Canada. The tour features some material from the 2007 "Just for Laughs" performance along with new material.
The 2008 tour closely mirrored the "Just for Laughs" performance, excluding the rat catchers, subway fan and Nicole Ritchie sketches. In their stead, Mark McKinney performed the monologue titled "The Modern Hero" from Season 1 of the show, and the entire cast performed the sketch "This Is How I Danced in Tenth Grade."
Kevin McDonald also guest starred on the TV comedy Seinfeld on the tenth show of the ninth season, in which he played a man enamored of wearing denim who Elaine pursues for the sake of a stamped card from a sub shop.
Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald performed with The Barenaked Ladies on their "Ships and Dip V" cruise, along with other bands and comics, on February 1–6, 2009.
On August 6, 2010 all five Kids made an appearance on The Soup on E!, to promote their miniseries Death Comes to Town. Four of the members appeared on-screen in drag as girls who had grown up as beauty pageant contestants (parodying Toddlers & Tiaras); Mark McKinney's voice was heard off-screen as their mother.
Kevin McDonald appeared on the animated show Dan Vs. in the episode Dan Vs. Technology. He played technology guru (and germaphobic) Barry Ditmer, a parody of Steve Jobs. He was planning to develop mind control so that the world's populace would buy the next useless gadget he would bring to market. However, thanks to Elise and Dan's intervention (after his new computer broke and couldn't get it fixed due to Ditmer's plan interfering), and his former partner Hiram (who had his part of the company stolen from him by Barry, and met Dan and Chris while they were stranded, eventually trying to murder them) invading, his plan is foiled and his complex blows up. Ironically, Chris is played by fellow member Dave Foley, but their characters never interacted.
In October 2012 and January 2013, Foley guest-starred on The Middle as Dr. Fulton (Brick's school therapist) in episodes "Bunny Therapy" (2012) and "Life Skills" (2013). During "Life Skills", Foley's character refers to Brick's (Atticus Shaffer) classmates as "the kids in the hall" (following an awkward pause and glance by both characters) and mentioned their behavior similar to those of comedy sketches from The Kids in the Hall.
In July 2008 Telefilm Canada announced that there would be a new The Kids in the Hall television series titled Death Comes to Town. The Kids' Kevin McDonald stated that it would be an eight-part miniseries airing first on CBC in Canada and then on US television.Principal photography took place from August 2009, in Ontario. Several characters from the original The Kids in the Hall series made an appearance, including the OPP Officers and Chicken Lady. The first episode of the new series aired in Canada on CBC Television on January 13, 2010, while in the United States the first episode aired on IFC on August 20, 2010.
Awards and honors
The TV series received international recognition with the 1993 Rose d'Or, awarded in Montreux, Switzerland.