Remember These Guys!: Kids in the Hall

I just read Nathan Rabin’s Year of Flops retrospective on Brain Candy, the 1996 Kids in the Hall film. Reading it brought back a whole slew of memories of a movie I used to quote on a nigh-daily basis. I actually saw the movie in the theatres, making me one of several dozen people to do so. It’s not a perfect flick by any means, but I think Rabin draws an apt comparison between it and far-reaching Monty Python features like The Life of Brian.

Rabin’s article also reminded me that there was a period in which I watched Kids in the Hall constantly. When I was in high school, CBS showed a late night hour-long block of KITH on Fridays (two episodes stitched together with extremely weird bumpers). CBS knew their audience: late Friday nights were perfect for the comedy dorks like yours truly who were right in the KITH wheelhouse, and unlikely to be doing anything else with their weekend.

I first heard about Kids in the Hall from a high school friend, back when the show first aired in the States on HBO. I didn’t have cable, so he paid me back for years of reciting Monty Python by singing the “These Are the Daves I Know” and imitating The Head Crusher Guy.

The first time I got to actually see the show was during a trip across the border. My two younger brothers were on traveling soccer teams and playing in some weekend tournament in Montreal. One of my goals for this trip was to try and see Kids in the Hall, since I’d heard so much about it (I vaguely remember reading of its hilarity in several music magazines I read) and I realized this would be my only real chance to see it, unless my mom finally caved and got cable (which she wouldn’t until I was away at college; cable was the last luxury to fall in our house, left over from the days when we was Dirt Poor).

Needless to say, it was love at first sight. It was a direct descendant of Monty Python, with all its non-sequiturs, envelope-pushing, and cross dressing. They did sketches that would be virtually impossible in America (for instance, suggesting that gay people actually exist while also not making them the butt of every joke), in accents I could understand. Plus, KITH was being made right then, not 30 years earlier, so I didn’t need to ask my dad to explain jokes about Edward Heath and decimalization.

When KITH wound up on CBS, I taped it religiously and watched it after school pretty much every day. I remember it being The Hotness among dork circles in the early 90s. A college friend of mine told me he even dressed up as the Head Crusher guy for Halloween one year (complete with folding chair), despite the fact that not a single candy dispenser knew who he was. I laughed, but only because it was exactly the weird/obsessive kind of thing that I would have done.

So my question is, How come nobody talks about them anymore? Granted, it’s hard to talk about something that doesn’t exist. But you will still hear lotsa love extended to other 90s comedy pioneers like The Simpsons, Mr. Show, or even the ultimate Dork-Fest, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (I say that as a fellow dork). But references to these shows are far more likely to elicit knowing chuckles than, say, The Chicken Lady, even among Dork Circles.

Somehow Kids in the Hall slipped under the cult radar, even for me. By all rights, I should own all of the shows, which trickled out on DVD a few years ago. And yet I don’t. Shame on me!

As punishment, I shall watch this video of what might be my favorite sketch from the show. This bit is a lot funnier if you had a daddy who drank. Or is it sadder? I get those two confused a lot.