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Kids in the Hall box set provides sketch comedy laughs

Date: 5/24/2011

May 23, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Just as the Marx Brothers had done in the 1930s and Monty Python's Flying Circus had done in the 1960s, The Kids in the Hall set a new standard for a comedy group in the late 1980s and '90s.

If you never caught their shows either on HBO or re-runs on various cable outlets, you now have the chance to experience them in a new 22-disc set "The Kids in the Hall: The Complete Series Megaset."

The megaset not only has all of the Kid's television shows but also its most recent production, "Death Comes to Town." The total is more than 42 hours of comedy, plus additional hours of interviews and other extras.

Like other sketch performers, the Kids — Dave Foley, Scott Thompson, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald and Mark McKinney — had a number of recurring characters and bits, but unlike the sketch humor of "Saturday Night Live," they were far more edgy and surreal. Their humor is also very politically incorrect — so be warned.

There were skits featuring a grumpy old man who pretended to crush people's heads by viewing them with forced perspective, two grossly inept cops who let crime happen around them and a sexually hyper half-woman, half-chicken — yes, you read that correctly.

Thompson, who is openly gay, also became well known for his monologues on a wide range of subjects as the character Buddy Cole.

I always liked a skit in which two bearded 19th century fur trappers navigate their canoe through the cubicles of a modern office setting their traps for executives so they can catch designer suits to trade — a very bizarre concept that works.

Like all sketch shows, there are hits and misses, but I always found The Kids in the Hall genuinely funny.

The Kids also became very well known for dressing in drag. Comics from The Three Stooges to Mike Myers have all dressed as a woman for comic effect, but the Kids did it differently. They used make-up and clothing to try to come across as real women, rather than caricatures.

"The Kids in the Hall" ran from 1989 to 1996 and since then the members of the group have kept busy with various projects with Foley and McDonald the most visible. Their one feature theatrical film, "Brain Candy" released in 1996, came at a time when the group was breaking up.

In 2009, they reunited for a new television production, "Death Comes to Town," which IFC broadcast in this country in 2010.

Playing multiple characters, the Kids tell a story of Death — riding the bus no less — making his rounds to the small town of Shuckton, Ontario. Spending his time in the town's No Tell Motel between assignments, this Death — there appear to be others — is pretty depressed that this small town is on his "route."

When he causes the demise of the sleazy yet popular mayor, Death sets in motion a darkly comedic murder mystery.

The new series is pretty funny and maintains the typical Kids comic blend of lowbrow and high concept material.

"Death Comes to Town" is always available as a stand-alone two-disc set.

If you're a fan of the group, this set will be a welcomed addition to your DVD collection.

If you've never heard of The Kids, put a couple of the discs on your Netflix cue and get acquainted.

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