This review of The Kids in the Hall revival is based on the first five episodes of season one. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I f’love The Kids in the Hall. I mean, some of their original material has not aged well. But, their comedy style is right up my alley, so when I heard that Amazon was raising their sketch show from the dead, I did a happy dance. I was especially thrilled to watch them in a modern era, where they’d likely not be putting on blackface, you know?

The Kids in the Hall brings the original troupe (Dave Foley, Bruch McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson) back together. They’ve even kept the original theme song! But does the reboot live up to my hopes and dreams? Read on to find out!

Review: The Kids in the Hall: Dave Foley, Bruch McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson in dirt

L-R Dave Foley, Bruch McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson. Credit: Jackie Brown Copyright: Amazon Studios

Was it necessary?

Not necessarily, but the revival certainly isn’t unwelcome. In an era of reboots, I see no harm in remaking a comedy sketch show, especially when something like Saturday Night Live is approaching half-century status. (SNL is also no stranger to some truly controversial offensive stuff). 

Speaking of necessary … this new season pulls no punches in luxuriating in its new streaming status. It’s not five minutes into the first episode before we get some full frontal (bouncing up and down included). There’s also a rather long, graphic Zoom-meeting masturbation sketch.

I’m not shy about nudity or sex in media — quite the opposite, in fact. But did I need to see six people’s ‘o’ faces for five minutes? Not sure because I’m not sure it was funny? 

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I can, thank goodness, report that there was no blackface or yellowface in the five episodes I watched, but I can’t say The Kids in the Hall handles race well. The only two Black characters on screen masturbate or are Kenan Thompson breaking into someone’s house, so … 

The five Kids are the only writers listed on IMDB, which is likely why these glaring insensitivies keep happening. I don’t think it’s intentionally racist. It genuinely seems like older white dudes who don’t know better, not that that’s an excuse. Like, get other people in your writer’s room, dudes — they totally could have. 

They certainly managed to get a plethora of guest stars. From Catherine O’Hara to Fred Armisen to Samantha Bee, the roster is the who’s who of Canada’s most famous and SNL alums. 

Review: The KIds in the Hall: Kevin McDonald, Bruch McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson and Dave Foley as strippers

L-R: Kevin McDonald, Bruch McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson and Dave Foley. Credit: Jackie Brown Copyright: Amazon Studios

Does it work?

Mostly, yes. I lol’d at about half the sketches per episode, and if I didn’t lol, I found myself smiling. That is a huge success for a sketch comedy show. I will say, I kinda missed the studio audience. 

I’m a huge fan of the dry, observational humor that non-US American anglophones seem to favor. The Kids in the Hall is no exception. And now that The Kids are all 60ish, that sense of disillusionment with oh, everything really lives behind their eyes. It could also just be post-pandemic cynicism. It rarely crosses into meanness, though. 

The Kids have always been masters at punchlines and sticking the ending; that’s not changed. Time and again, I was delightfully surprised by the way a sketch ended. And, when they lean into their age and/or the absurd is when the show truly shines. So what if they’re in their upper middle ages? That’s awesome! 

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A sketch that perfectly blends these concepts is one where an elderly man (McDonald) adopts two cats that turn out to be vicious murderers. Sure, it could have worked when the guys were younger, but there’s something about the actors being older that boosts it. Perhaps the loneliness is more believable. 

Another standout is a recurring sketch about a DJ (Foley) in the post-apocalypse. He only plays the song “Brand New Key” by Melanie between giving odd traffic updates about the end times going on above him. It’s so weird and the deadness behind Foley’s eyes really sells it.    

Who will enjoy it?

This is a little trickier to answer.

Of course, this version of The Kids in the Hall is more PC by today’s standards (though not un-problematic). And The Kids’ general pervasive, inherent homoeroticism is there as ever. The dudes are often in drag and seem about always a step or two away from making out with each other, whether in drag or out. 

Review: The Kids in the Hall: Bruch McCulloch and Scott Thompson as Cathies at a fax machine

L-R: Scott Thompson and Bruch McCulloch. Credit: Jackie Brown. Copyright: Amazon Studios.

But then, at the same time, The Kids are also Boomers. Boomers who seem to want to have their cake and eat it too. It’s hard to imagine that a sketch about a sentient glory hole that has Lil Nas X playing in the background and a joke about “aggressive clapping” being triggering live in the same show. 

Those latter bits didn’t vibe with me as much. It’s not that I don’t think these things should be off the table for jokes, but if you’re gonna make an “edgy” joke and criticize modernity, it ought to be funny. A lot of the Boomer-humor just fell flat. 

It’s strange to me that these jokes are there, as they’d probably only gel with other Boomers. But I can’t imagine most Boomers who’d like those jokes really enjoying how unabashedly absurd, weird and queer Kids in the Hall is in general. 

In any case, if you were a fan of the original The Kids in the Hall, I highly recommend checking out the reboot. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe and you’ll feel the nostalgia. 

The Kids in the Hall is available for streaming on Amazon starting May 13. 

 

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