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The Best Of The Kids In The Hall
featuring: Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson

96 minutes (15) 2002
Fremantle Mediumrare DVD Region 2 retail
[released 24 September]

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
Originally part of Canada's improv-comedy circuit, 'the Kids in the Hall' were spotted by legendary Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels and brought to television. Their uniquely skewed approach to comedy soon developed a cult following and, along with the tours that followed, is still remembered today.

Of course, the burning question is... is it still funny? The Kids In The Hall always played very fast and loose with comedy, combining Raymond Carver-like vignettes with moments of Monty Python-esque imagery in a style that when it worked, soared, and when it didn't fell flat.

Thankfully the four episodes worth of material here, drawn from their first two seasons, contains consistently excellent. Monologues were something of a trademark for them and Scott Thompson's Buddy Coyle, one of the first openly, and directly gay comedy characters to achieve popularity is particularly well represented here. Thompson never lets Buddy sink into stereotype, instead playing him as an arch, unusually perceptive and wilfully eccentric commentator on life.

Bruce McCulloch's work treads similar ground but does so in a manner that is far more tragic than it is comedic. One sketch sees him deliver a monologue to a hitchhiker about how great his life and his car is, as the car disintegrates around him and he struggles to maintain control. McCulloch's signature character, a precocious boy called Gavin is also well represented here, as Gavin helps to paint a chair by discussing increasingly bizarre and chances are illusory events.

Things take a turn for the nightmarish with the appearance of Mark McKinney's 'Chicken Lady', a horrific, half-woman half-chicken creature that's perpetually horny and that terrifies every suitor she finds. McKinney also does excellent work as the now legendary 'Head Crusher', a man who pretends to pinch people's heads flat between his fingers. When he meets his arch nemesis the 'Face Pincher' (played by McDonald), an epic battle, sort of, is on the cards...

It's McDonald and Foley however, who come off the best from this material. McDonald is a perpetually bewildered; endearingly rubbish figure in many of the sketches here, and his total lack of competence leads much of the comedy. 'Sir Simon and Hecubus' is nothing short of fantastic, a fake horror TV show in which McDonald plays "a man possessed by many demons. Polite demons that would hold the door open for a lady with shopping bags, but demons! I assure you!" Aided by Foley as his demonic servant Hecubus, Sir Simon Milligan, "master of funk and evil" is one of the high points on the disc.

Also top notch is Foley's solo work. His cheerful demeanour allows him to get away with some of the show's darkest moments, including a neglectful dad ("Hey son, son wake up! I bought you a puppy, but on the way home from work I got hungry so I ate it!"), and a charming but completely useless surgeon. The disc's crowning moment is also provided by these two as the Trappers, two old fashioned Canadian trappers who hunt... yuppies. The sight of them paddling their canoe along a corridor singing Alouette will not soon leave you.

Wilfully eccentric, extremely dark and consistently funny, the Kids in the Hall were one of 1990s' comedy's best kept secrets. Do yourself a favour and discover them now.

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