The generation that grew up with The Kids in the Hall knows that they are one of the best sketch comedy and live comedy troupes that ever lived. In their prime, well-captured by a Prime Video documentary called “The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks,” currently on the streaming giant, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson were quite simply five of the funniest people alive. Founded in 1984, they quickly drew attention in Toronto, courted by Lorne Michaels and “Saturday Night Live” before starting their own TV show that ran from 1989 to 1995 on CBC and HBO (although later repeats on Comedy Central arguably made the Kids even more popular). The Kids not only had spectacular comedic chemistry, but they had fearless wit, using their own dark family lives and skewed views of the world to create hysterical characters. From Chicken Lady to the Head Crusher, people remember the characters of “The Kids in the Hall,” and fans who have seen every episode dozens of times and attended a reunion tour or two will be happy to know that the comeback iteration of “The Kids in the Hall,” premiering on Prime Video on May 13th for a eight-episode mini-season, is still fearless. Not all of the sketches work—there’s no show where they all work—but the batting average is still so much higher than most programs that the Kids inspired into existence. They’re back to show the generations that followed them how it’s done.
Technically, what premieres Friday could be called the sixth season of the original show—there just happened to be an 27-year gap. What’s so refreshing is how much the chemistry between these guys remains intact. In fact, it’s arguably stronger than the end of the series and “Brain Candy,” a time in their lives when the Kids weren’t exactly getting along (and the less said about 2010’s “Death Comes to Town,” the better). The guys burst back in the series premiere with absolutely no desperation to please. That was always a big part of why they worked—they were trying only to do what they thought was funny, never overly concerned with whether you laughed or not. And they use the license of Prime Video’s lack of advertisers to push boundaries that maybe even HBO would objected to. Let’s just say, you’ll see more of the Kids than ever before.
There’s also a wicked cynicism to the episodes sent for press in that it feels like the Kids’ sense of humor is darker than ever, kind of reflecting where we're all at in the 2020s. Yes, a show that once featured Hitler screwing a kid’s pet donkey was always a little vicious, but something feels even more nihilistic here from the sketch about a dying old man not being able to get a kid to send an ambulance because he can’t pronounce it, to an absolutely amazing bit about a rock ‘n’ roll DJ after the apocalypse, playing the same song over and over again. It’s one of Dave Foley’s best skits.
And that’s what’s so fun about having new Kids in the Hall—seeing these great comedic actors still be able to hit a home run every now and then. All five guys have great moments in the episodes sent for press, sketches built on their comedic personalities and yet also don’t remotely feel like a lazy reunion tour. These guys aren’t just recycling material. They’re still hilarious, smart, and sometimes brutal. It makes me very happy to say the Kids are still more than alright.
Five episodes screened for press. Premieres on Prime Video on May 13th, 2022.