The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks is a deep dive into one of the most underrated comedy troupes of all time. Interviews with the five along with some behind the scenes footage show off just how groundbreaking and different the group were. The documentary is also an examination of friendship and perseverance.
Much of sketch comedy is built around spoofing pop culture and celebrities. This may be the most noticeable difference about The Kids in the Hall. Their target was modern everyday life. The skits tended to be more grounded and were based around families and work. Many times, they would just be themselves.
Using more relatable scenarios did not prevent the five from introducing surreal aspects into their acts. There were famous characters like The Chicken Lady and the Headcrusher alongside one offs like Dave Foley proclaiming he appreciated menstruation and Bruce McCulloch apologizing for all the cancer he had caused. Comedy Punks gives examples of just how outside the norm the show was. Their influence can be seen in the random comedy of the 2010s and in millennial and Gen Z comedy. (The difference being The Kids in the Hall were actually funny.)
Along with being ahead of their time comedy-wise, they were also unafraid to push social boundaries. Many times during Comedy Punks, a comparison is made between the five and punk music. Scott Thompson was openly gay and wrote many sketches that featured gay characters and themes. Using Monty Python as an inspiration, the group would dress in drag regularly. The was never meant as a joke and acknowledged a gender fluidity that would not be taken seriously for another few decades.
Though there are plenty to be found, Comedy Punks does not just rely on classics from the television show. Modern day interviews with the group highlight they are just as funny today. In group and individual settings, the five are allowed to shine. Naturally, there are Lorne Michaels impersonations – with Mark McKinley’s being particularly good.
The documentary also dives into the bond between the five. The friendship between Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald is a recurring theme and the filming of a miniseries called Death Comes to Town provides plenty of emotional moments. (There is also a great story from McCulloch about how he cheered Thompson up.)
The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks does a great job of pleasing older fans while introducing the group to a new generation. The film is consistently funny and is filled with the timeless humor that has made them such an influence. It also has spotlights the relationship between them and is a testament to what hard work can accomplish.
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