A Celebration of Canada’s Best Alternative Sketch Comedians [SXSW]

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Along with a satisfying retrospective, the talking heads featuring each of the cast’s five members are full of honest and intimate reflections, especially when it comes to the most nasty and tense details during the toughest times. You may never have heard of the animosity that grew between the gang as their show entered its fifth and final season. The production of their movie “Brain Candy” saw even more tension and bitterness envelop the band, as it would for any rock band that has been together for years. I only wish the movie had more footage of McKinney, McCulloch, McDonald, Foley and Thompson together in the same room, which is only used occasionally. Luckily, there are still a handful of funny moments that come from the cast members speaking through the camera in their own one-on-one interviews, with the film’s editing making them go off without a hitch. You may also find yourself wiping away a few tears as Thompson recalls his struggle and eventual triumph after being diagnosed with cancer.

In addition to the information provided by The Kids in the Hall themselves, there is also an exceptional body of commentary, context and compliments from various big names in comedy. Mike Myers, the Canadian comedian who rose to prominence on “SNL,” pays them the ultimate compliment by saying he always wished he could be one of the Kids in the Hall (he kind of got his wish by performing with them several times at the Rivoli in the early years). Other famous faces such as Fred Armisen, Janeane Garofalo, Lewis Black, Matt Walsh and Reggie Watts have only nice things to say too. But it’s the likes of Eddie Izzard, Julie Klausner, and Mae Martin that offer the most significant praise, and it’s also what makes The Kids in the Hall stand out from all other comedy sketch shows, and, as one talking head called them, “the comedic arm of the grunge movement.”

Despite The Kids in the Hall being led by five white men, they also brought with them a refreshing perspective and portrayal of female and gay characters. The five male cast members frequently appeared in drag, but their sketches never attempted to poke fun at women in an insulting, lazy, superficial, or chauvinistic way. They featured hilariously prominent female characters who just happened to be played by men, giving the troupe an almost Shakespearean quality. On top of that, the presence of the openly gay Scott Thompson allowed them to effectively and hysterically tackle many gay topics, which weren’t often addressed in 1990s comedy. positive queer gay characters and a girlish energy that you just couldn’t find in other comedy sketch shows. As Izzard astutely observes, “The hall children were and are Monty Python’s successors.” It’s hard to imagine better praise than that.

“Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks” is an insightful, celebratory, uplifting and thunderous documentary that celebrates some of the best and brightest in comedic talent. My only wish is that we have more time to spend with The Kids in the Hall to allow an even deeper dive into their sketches, both in their TV series and their onstage revival over the past decade. But at the very least, it’s good to see this documentary top it all off with the promise of the next reboot of the “Kids in the Hall” series. Given that the cast envisions this more as a sixth season of the show, it’ll be like the kids have been waiting in the hallway this whole time to give us even more jokes. I can’t wait any longer.

/Movie rating: 9 out of 10

“Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks” will hit Prime Video this year.

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