Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks Image

Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks

By Alan Ng | March 16, 2022

SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Any documentary about fandom needs to check all the boxes about its subject, or it fails. Writer/director Reg Harkema’s Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks checks all the boxes and is the definitive history of the legendary sketch comedy group, Kids In The Hall. The documentary’s only weakness is its straightforward linear narrative of the troupe’s history. But, at the same time, trying to do something cute or trite would be a disservice.

The film features interviews with all of the Kids — Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson. Plus, Lorne Michaels, Mike Myers, Mae Martin, Eddie Izzard, Jay Baruchel, and Fred Armisen extoll the greatness of the troupe and, of course, clips, clips, and more clips.

As with all documentaries, Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks starts at the beginning: Kids In The Hall germinated in a suburb of Calgary, where McCulloch and McKinney became the first members. Like all Canadian comedians, the duo moved to Toronto, where they met Foley and McDonald at various comedy and Theater Sports shows. After a short while, they decided to form a troupe doing improv and sketch comedy — basically the start of every hopeful improv troupe worldwide.

The Kids in the Hall were lucky to find real traction in the early 1980s. As they found moderate success as a team, Thompson would become the last and final piece. They honed their craft at the Rivoli theater with writer Paul Bellini (fans know this guy). They soon became the hottest comedy show in Toronto, so much so that they didn’t have enough tickets to comp the scouts from Saturday Night Live.

“…what made Kids in the Hall one of the greatest sketch comedy groups since Monty Python?”

I’m not going to go through every detail of their history, but as a fan of their show, Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks answers many questions I had about the Kids over the decades. Many of them surrounded Saturday Night Live, where McCulloch and McKinney were writers on arguably the worst season, which was also the first of Lorne Michaels’ return. Then there’s the demise of their show, which led to Foley being outcast for taking the lead on Newsradio, and then Brain Candy — a film I don’t particularly like — was troubled from the very start of production.

The vital question answered in Harkema’s documentary is, what made Kids in the Hall one of the greatest sketch comedy groups since Monty Python? There’s so much praise of the Kids that it’s almost disgusting… we all like disgusting, right? Groundbreaking is an understatement. When I first saw their show on CBS during a writer’s strike, I found comedy willing to tackle any and all subjects with reckless abandon. Religion, homosexuality, menstruation, nothing was off-limits. But, weirdly, I never saw them as particularly political.

Thompson’s conviction about being openly gay on television (especially in the late 80s) significantly impacted me as a conservative Evangelical at a time when many of my peers believed AIDS was God’s judgment. My changing beliefs and support of the community are what got me kicked out of that group. Thanks, Scott!

Fans, you’re in luck. Clips galore will conjure the right amount of nostalgia. The honesty of the troupe in telling their story is both brutal and hilarious. You’ll get a sense of their friendship based on the intense focus of producing quality comedy and knowing precisely the unique role each member played on the team. Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks also makes me nostalgic for a time when comedy risked being offensive to make a broader point on society. There’s no better way to state this, but if you’re a fan of Kids in the Hall, Harkema’s doc is must-viewing.

Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks screened at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival.

Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks (2022)

Directed and Written: Reg Harkema

Starring: Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson, Lorne Michaels, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks Image


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