Monday, June 2, 2008

Last Night in Cleveland: Kids in the Hall

Posted By on Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 10:49 AM

While the kids of Kids in the Hall are a far cry from kids anymore, Scott Thompson, Dave Foley, Mark McKinney, Kevin McDonald, and Bruce McCulloch – all a little portlier, grayer, and wrinkled than you’d remember, thanks to middle age – proved Saturday night at the Palace Theatre that comedians half their age have nothing on the goofy, Monty Python-esque troupe. As part of their first live tour in six years, the Canadian sketch comedy group -- which had a long running show on CBC in Canada, and then on CBS and HBO in the U.S. -- trotted out some fan-favorite characters, and dabbled in some new material that was originally premiered in 2007 at the “Just for Laughs Comedy Festival” in Quebec ... Sketch comedy is always funnier in person than it is on television -- or at least you laugh harder when your sitting amid drunks rather than by yourself at home. But even on TV, Kids in the Hall always seemed fresher, funnier, and more original than anything Saturday Night Live’s done in the past four years. So even if everything wasn’t as hilarious as the laughs indicated, they still served as reminders of what sketch comedy can be when written and performed well – in the Kids’ case, this usually includes plenty of drag. The biggest responses came from the most well-known characters. Gavin, the most annoying kid you ever met and a character from the show, entertained some Jehovah’s Witnesses, Chicken Lady had some phone sex, Buddy Cole gave a monologue on how Jesus was gay, and Mr. Tyzik, the head-crusher, closed the show by mocking each actor’s achievements – Foley’s role in Poker Show, McDonald’s forgettable Carpoolers, McCulloch’s willingness to do anything for a laugh, and, turning the camera on himself, McKinney’s best role during his time at SNL, the one where he stood and waved at the end of the show. The original material, though, was the highlight of the night. Foley and McCulloch fought over an imaginary girlfriend; McKinney and McDonald played smarmy businessmen selling a spigot-in-the-belly weight-loss device; McDonald became Superdrunk in a skit filled with all the hokey charm of early Batman shows; and a Foley character invented a time machine to enjoy perpetual last call at the bar. The time machine became a running bit, also coming up in a skit where Foley’s wife gives him oral sex only on his birthday, to which he replies, “More than that would be overkill,” only to jump in the time machine immediately after the act. With the dearth of quality sketch comedy, we all could use a time machine to go back and enjoy Kids in the Hall every week. Lacking that, we’ll just have to hope it’s not another six years before they come back again. --Vince Grzegorek

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