The Kids in the Hall as vital and funny as ever
At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Wednesday, May 20
“Throwback Wednesdays” doesn’t have quite the alliterative punch as its Thursday counterpart, but what the hell, not everything needs a hashtag. The Kids in the Hall pre-date social media anyway, so a hump day reunion at the Q.E. Theatre is no problem at all.
The troupe formed in the mid ’80s, and it’s been 25 years since it made its TV debut with, according to Kevin McDonald’s musical explanation, “half of a half of a half of a share”. But the show lasted five seasons, spawned the movie Brain Candy (which, according to the same song, cost $8 million and grossed $3 million), and jump-started the solo careers of all five members to varying degrees. But as good as some of their individual successes have been, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Thankfully, they still enjoy each other’s company (at least in small-enough doses) to get together every few years to perform as one.
When viewed from the back of the theatre, anyway, they haven’t aged a bit. There’s not a bald or overweight one in the group (those in the expensive seats might beg to differ). And they’re as vital and funny as they’ve ever been.
The show opened with a new sketch that was vintage KITH, with the five dressed in wedding gowns taking turns telling us the benefits of the particular clothing choice. Surreal and hilarious, it could easily have been an opening scene on their iconic program. It launched into “Having an Average Weekend”, their familiar theme song by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, followed by McDonald’s solo song, which told us, “We’re not quitting till one of us dies, probably Dave.” At which point Foley entered carrying McDonald’s frock for the next scene.
A mix of old and new, highlights included the classic sketch about a deathly ill sheep farmer (Scott Thompson), with Foley as a meandering country doctor with a sweet tooth, Bruce McCulloch suffering over a “salty bloody ham” he describes as “goddamn voodoo pork”, Mark McKinney as a pretentious waiter in a French restaurant who’s willing to die rather than have the tarte be publicly referred to as pie, and Foley and McDonald arguing over an imaginary girlfriend (“I wish I never described her to you!” “You weren’t meeting her imaginary needs”).
Less successful were Thompson’s Buddy Cole, whose monologue was essentially a “kids today” old-man rant, and McCulloch’s Gavin, who was too self-aware. But those are quibbles. The show was fast-paced and fun—a tight 86 minutes before the perfect encore: McKinney as Mr. Tyzik, the head-crusher, who pointed his camcorder around the room and crushed heads while his POV was shown on the big screen.
His final act would be to end everything. “Thirty fucking years you’ve been coming to see us. Enough.” He brought out his castmates and proceeded to skewer them before mashing their melons.
That may have been enough for the evening, but I prefer to believe McDonald earlier, when he sang about how they’re not quitting. As long as they keep performing with the enthusiasm on display this night, we will continue to come to see them.
Here’s hoping Dave stays in good health.
Hope you didn't get paid to write this...
May 21, 2015 at 4:54pm
Gavin and Buddy were on point and why waste a paragraph on how they look physically if you're aren't at least going to compliment them on being incredibly transformative physical performers.
I crush your head!
May 22, 2015 at 11:39am
I agree that Buddy wasn't funny, but I think Gavin being self-aware about "the spectrum" was pretty hilarious. Fabulous show, even if there were a few misfires.