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Andy Prest: The Kids In The Hall are here to bring laughs back from the dead

Canada's enlightened comedy crew returns with first new season of TV shows since 1995.
Kids In The Hall credit Jackie Brown Amazon Studios
The Kids In The Hall, Canada's enlightened comedy crew, are back for their first season of new shows since 1995.

Way back in 1989, the very first sketch of the very first episode of Season 1 of the classic Canadian comedy show The Kids In The Hall featured two grown men dressed up as teenage girls giddily talking together on the telephone.

Now younger readers may be baffled by the description of this scene already. Why would a teenager use their phone for TALKING? Bad WiFi?

But that’s not really the point here. The point is there were two men on network TV pretending to be teenage girls. And it was funny. And they weren’t making fun of teenage girls, they were just having fun as teenage girls, and it set the tone for what was to come over the next seven years as The Kids In The Hall crept into the Canadian consciousness and then smothered bolognese sauce all over and made a delicious mess of things.

When you think about men being silly while dressed as women through the polarized 2022 lenses of gender politics, social media sword fights, and angry dudes who like to drive around and honk their horns, it starts to sound a little scary. But to be honest, looking at anything through the 2022 political lens can make you want to wash your eyes out with bleach.

That’s why it can be a lot of fun to go back to an era like the 1980s – back then the cross-dressing shenanigans of The Kids in the Hall was a bit risqué, but it wasn’t entirely earth-shattering. The Monty Python boys had Brits in stitches decades before, screaming at each other while dressed as Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion.

But The Kids in the Hall were our own Canadian take on super silly sketch comedy, and they didn’t stop at cross-dressing. Halfway through the second episode of Season 1, the audience meets Charles Budderick “Buddy” Cole, a flamboyantly gay character played by an openly gay actor.

“People make fun of me because I lisp,” said Buddy in that first appearance. “Really – such a lot of fuss over a few extra esses.”

He also said, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. We’re all just here to find love.”

Remember this was 1989, nearly 10 years before talk show host Ellen DeGeneres made headlines around the world by coming out as a lesbian.

But Buddy Cole, an icon in his own right, was there long before that, just being his outrageous self. And that really seems to be what The Kids In The Hall were up to. They were just trying to be themselves and, of course, get laughs.

There were no powerful political statements being made when a character sat hiding in the bushes, holding his hand out in front of his spectacled face ready to “pinch” people standing half a block away. Few lines in TV history are dumber, or funnier, than what came next.

“I’m crushing your head!”

And it just gets dumber, and funnier, and sillier, and somehow still funnier as the years go by.  

There’s a husband who complains to his wife that her ham was a little too salty.

“A man my age shouldn’t be up all night looking for Gatorade streams in the backyard!”

And the chicken lady, and “Splitting up a Triscuit,” and “He’s taking off his jacket,” and “My pen! You’ve got my pen!”

Sorry, I got carried away a bit there. Why are we talking about this right now? Because The Kids in The Hall are back – there’s a new season debuting Friday on Amazon Prime.

I mentioned this to my parents and they laughed at the thought of a bunch of 60-year-olds still calling themselves “kids.” But really, what choice do they have. No one would want to watch The Men in the Hall.

But The Kids In The Hall? Yes please. And they are very much in on the joke. The trailer for the new series begins with a backhoe digging up a grave beneath a tombstone bearing the inscription “The Kids in the Hall, 1988-1995.”

Now that they’ve been exhumed, I can’t wait to see what they’ve got to say, these kids from our past, dropped into our modern world. Are they still sharp?

“Who’s financing them this time?” a character asks in the trailer. “The devil again?”

“Well, sort of.” comes the reply. “Amazon.”

The Kids are back.

Andy Prest is the sports and features editor of the North Shore News. His lifestyle/humour column runs biweekly. aprest@nsnews.com

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