What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this Canadian sketch comedy series uses sophisticated -- and sometimes mature -- humor designed to make adults laugh. That means you'll hear unbleeped language (including "f--k" and "s--t") and see some skits that revolve around sexual jokes and innuendo. There's occasional cartoonish violence, too, as well as a few scenes that involve alcohol or drugs. Most of the humor will go over kids' head, although there are a few sketches -- particularly a recurring segment in which a character tries to "crush" people's heads with his fingers -- that will probably appeal to them.
What's the story?
THE KIDS IN THE HALL is both the name of a Canadian sketch comedy group and their eponymous, Emmy-nominated TV show, which aired on CBC Television (and later in the United States on CBS and HBO) from 1988 to 1994. The group includes actor-writers Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson, who created a number of recurring skits and memorable characters and often dressed up in drag to portray women.
Is it any good?
It's curious that Foley is the only member of the Kids who ever found real crossover success in the United States, starring as a fish-out-of-water news director on the workplace sitcom NewsRadio and, later, voicing heroic ant Flik in A Bug's Life. Because going back to watch these old episodes, you realize just how funny the rest of the crew is. McKinney's hilarious head-crushing sketch remains a classic, and his portrayal of a strutting, squawking Chicken Lady is still funny years later.
Older teens, especially, might enjoy "discovering" this oft-forgotten gem, which feels decidedly subversive -- but, for the most part, surprisingly tame -- compared to mainstream sketch comedy fare like Saturday Night Live and MADtv. (Fun fact: SNL creator Lorne Michaels also served as the Kids' executive producer.) If your kids like what they see here, consider introducing them to Monty Python's Flying Circus, which aired some 20 years earlier. The similarities are delighfully obvious.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the group's brand of satire compares with other sketch comedy shows. Does the fact that the show was created by Canadians affect its content (such as the noticable absence of celebrity impersonations and pop-culture references)?
Do any of the skits feel outdated, or does the humor still feel fresh? Would you make any suggestions to update it for modern audiences?
Would the Kids be as funny if the group included female comedians? Why do we laugh when men dress in drag and impersonate women?