Film, Pop Culture

The Kids in the Hall vs. The State

The 90’s was not my favorite decade for personal reasons (nose seemingly disproportionate to the rest of my face, catepillar eyebrows, discovering my sexuality through Elton John circa 1972), HOWEVER, it was my favorite decade for sketch comedy.
Only two troupes stand out in my mind as rulers of 90’s sketch- CBC’s The Kids in the Hall and MTV’s The State.
If you don’t know who either are, you’re a fucking loser.
There, I said it.
Somebody had to.

My roommate brought home the newly released The State DVD boxset tonight and I got myself reaquinted with the show. I watched The State when it was still on MTV, way before I ever discovered what The Kids in the Hall was.

I must have thought I was a pretty fucking awesome twelve year-old.
When I saw The Kids in the Hall “Brain Candy a few years later, I was at first appalled, then turned on. Wild intrigue manifested into manical obsession and I lost a great deal of friends during this time due to my forcing them to reenact “Buddy Cole” skits every time they came over.
“Hey, Lauren, wanna go swim in the pool?”
“NO! Here, put this smoking jacket on and purse your lips. Now emphasize your S’s! DO IT!”
Every day my VCR was programmed to record KitH reruns airing on Comedy Central from 2PM-3PM EST. I’d race off the school bus just in time to heat up a ham and cheese hot pocket, catch the last fifteen minutes of the second episode, then rewind and sit for one hour in pure bliss. I’m obviously a bigger fan of The Kids in the Hall, but as I watched the second season of The State tonight I attempted objectivity and wondered which really was the better troupe? The State- the eleven person NYU crew, representing the 90’s MTV generation with sardonism and tongue-in-cheek wit? Or The Kids in the Hall- the five, loveable, slighty perverted nerds from Canada, representing the generation of….slightly perverted Canadian nerds?
Here is my scorecard:
1.) It’s a Man’s World– there were no women in The Kids in the Hall and only one woman in the 11 person State crew.
-The State gets a +1 for only being mildy scared of women.
2.) Toronto vs. NYCKitH was a Toronto-based troupe full of college dropouts and good ol’ Canadian boys through and through. The State was full of recently graduated NYU students. Both cities have their charm but the Brooklyn thing is overdone, even if the The State was there before it was super cool.
-Kids in the Hall gets a +1 because a.) they lived in the nicer and cleaner NYC b.) they lived in f’ing cold ass weather.
3.) Crush Worthy– even when I was a little girl, I had a thing for Thomas Lennon. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s his thin lips or 1940’s part. That crush only heightened when Reno 911! came out and he donned the best pair of short shorts my generation has ever seen. He still remains one of the few actors I found myself speechless around when I encountered him on the studio lot we both worked at.
With his baby blue eyes and gapped tooth grin, I quickly fell in love with Dave Foley for his perfect mix of masculine and feminie qualities (who are we kidding…that guy is a chick!) However, time has not been good to Mr. Foley, and he has recently become the poster child for Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians.
The State gets a +1 for aging more gracefully.
4.) The Gay TruthThe Kids in the Hall had one openly gay member, Scott Thompson, and boy, was he the most amazingly gay man ever. Remember Buddy Cole? If anyone was gay in The State, we did not know about it..

-Kids in the Hall gets a +1 for having an openly gay member and not being afraid to talk about it.
*Editors note- I’ve been corrected. I forgot about The State’s Kevin Allison and their famous, “The Jew, The Italian, and the Redhead Gay” skit. Im still giving this category to KitH though

5.) Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder– There is no competition here. Nobody looked as good in dresses as the Kids in the Hall. NOBODY!

They made my burgeoning sexuality all the more confusing.
-Kids in the Hall +1 for being some hot mo-fo’s.

6.) Success!– All the members or KitH and The State have gone onto other things- comedic and serious acting, directing, writing, more sketch comedy, music, etc. Though The Kids have had some successful moments since KitH ended- Foley on Newsradio, McCulloch’s “directing” career, and McKinney’s brief stint on SNL-the members of The State have had a far more interesting journey.

Where to begin? Remember Viva Variety? Reno 911!? “Wet Hot American Summer”? Lennon and Garant have gone onto a successful (“successful” being relative) writing career as well- “Night at the Museum”, “The Pacifier”, “Let’s Go to Prison”, and “Herbie: Fully Reloaded”.

-The State gets a +1 for having a larger, more consistenly cooler body of work.

7.) Unforgettable Characters– how many funny, unforgettable reoccuring character can you remember from The Kids in the Hall? Headcrusher, Cabbage Head, The Chicken Lady, Gavin, Simon and Hecubus, Buddy Cole, Danny Husk, Jocelyn and Maudre, Cathy and Kathie…

Now how many can you remember from The State?
Barry & Levon and Doug.
Kids in the Hall gets a +1 for having an imagination.
Kids in the Hall=4
The State=3
(Of course The Kids in the Hall would win….I will always be a KitH girl)
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  • Reply Apryl March 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    BOTH stellar shows. I miss good TV.

    With the abundance of reality crap, my brain is turning to mush.

  • Reply Jordan March 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Kevin from The State was openly gay, and even had several sketches about it. So there.

    I think Kids in the Hall was better at character stuff and acting ability. But they were terrible at ending sketches, whereas The State's sketch endings are my favorite things ever.

  • Reply Jordan March 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    ALSO: MTV forced The State to do recurring characters — they actually wanted to only do new characters and ideas for every sketch. So I'm not sure how that equals "less imagination"?!?

  • Reply subcomandante quito March 25, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    you left out in living color!!!
    where my brown people @?!?!

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 25, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    @Apryl- So do I!

    @Jordan- Well shit…but I feel like there were more gay-themed skits on Kith than The State, no?

    @John- Do you mean Kevin on the State?

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    @Jordan- The State doesn't have less imagination, it's just that The Kids in the Hall were more creative, I feel. The State's reoccurring characters were not as good as KitH's.

    @Marcos- You're right. I'm sorry.

  • Reply John March 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    doH! yes i meant
    Kevin Allison was openly gay. 🙂
    (the red head)

    State is better.

  • Reply Jordan March 25, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    There were more gay themed sketches on KITH, but honestly, a lot of them are not the funniest sketches. I think gay culture in Toronto during the 80s and early 90s was maybe more of a taboo thing than in NYC, so The State didn't feel a huge drive to constantly talk about it.

    After everything I'd probably pick Kids in the Hall…but there's this wild abandon and absurdity to The State that I love. Sometimes KITH is a bit too…straight?

  • Reply Allison March 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Kids in the Hall had a new mini series on the CBC recently…"The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town."

  • Reply Nadster March 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    As a proud Canadian girl I'm glad that the kids in the hall won. Canada has some fantastic comedians. Some of my secret tacky favorite movies have actors from this and other shows like it!

  • Reply Jolie Morgan Musick March 25, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Is it sad that I actually really want that pink sweater?

  • Reply EMQ March 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    I never laughed harder than during the "Hedgehog Races" skit on the State. Just saying…

  • Reply The Girl Least Likely To March 25, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    I thought I was the only weird kid that was oddly obsessed with The Kids in the Hall. This brings back memories of singing "These are the Daves I know I know, these are the Daves I know" in my back yard!

  • Reply VegKat March 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    While I do so love the Kids, The State is my fave. First, the Kids didn't have Michael Ian Black. Super crush worthy.

    As for unforgettable characters, what bout the "I wanna dip my balls in it" guy, the guys who want to go to the zoo to see the monkeys do it, or the "Jew, the Itailian and the red head gay"? (The last may or may not apply to your # 4.)

    And just to show that I'm not a total poser loser with access to wikkipedia, I have proof:

    And Thomas Lennon has even looked at it:

    Sorry for the links. I hate when people do that to me, but I swear they are relevant, and I'm not spamming or anything.

    GO STATE! ♥

  • Reply Tommy March 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I'm sorry dude, ordinarily our opinions align perfectly…but I think I have to give it to The State. "I want to dip my balls in it!" Porcupine Races?
    The monkeys, they don't just do it! They make-a love." Blueberry Johnson? The Jew, the Italian, and the Redhead Gay?
    They have plenty of memorable sketches!

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 25, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    @allison- heard about that! i hope i'm able to see it!!! thanks!

    @nadster- i always wanted to be canadian. seriously.

    @jolie- no, that is an awesome sweater.

    @EMQ- that is a pretty good skit. i remember liking that one a lot too.

    @girl- nope! i'm right there with you!

    @vegkat- oh my god, i'm SO FREAKIN' JEALOUS! good for you!!! wow! just read your links. love it!

    @tommy- we'll finish this on IM….

  • Reply Julie, The Wife March 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    OMG, I LOVED the Kids in HS/college (I am older than you), and NO ONE else was watching them. Loved Billy and the Devil dueling on guitar for his soul, loved Chicken Lady, loved anything Scott, loved the commercial for Spring and burying the people he killed over the winter. Swoon.

    Fuck the bank, fuck the bank, I'll eat pancakes on your grave!

  • Reply Angie March 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    YES! Gotta love them Canadian boys… erm… girls… folks. I feel like they were dressed as women more than men. Have you heard about their new series called Death Comes To Town. Google it!

  • Reply TheBigShowAtUD March 25, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    i remember KitH, but not the MTV show.

    as funny as they were, it's surprise they've gone on to other things, like Reno 911. i love that show.

    of course, In Living Color was the FUNNIEST 90s show, ever.

  • Reply Grant March 25, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I would say that this decade is the best.

    Tim & Eric
    Whitest Kids you Know
    The League of Gentlemen

    Plus all of your favorites from the 90's have had steady work this whole time.

    P.S. I wanna dip my balls in it.

  • Reply bard March 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I had a roommate back then who would literally squirm when The Chicken Lady was on. If he was pissing me off for some reason I'd just start imitating her, and it would usually shut him up.

  • Reply Christopher March 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    You always have the best trips down memory lane. I never knew that was the same guy from Reno 911 I must have been distracted by the shorts (I hope not by the buldge, that'd open a whole new can of worms).

    • Reply Steven McKay July 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      There is no d in bulge. Use package; it’s less objectionable. You’re welcome.

  • Reply Benny Paul March 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    And now I realize that it's been so long since I've seen either show, I only know them well enough to nod in recognition when people bring them up.
    But that's it. Just "I've heard of them."
    On one hand, I feel lame, but on another hand, it's going to be pretty awesome to rediscover it.

  • Reply Sadako March 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Agreed. Kids in the Hall looked amazing in drag.

    Just rewatched some skits last night. Including Mr. Stevenson. God I loved that one. "Mr. Stevenson's off his martinis!" "Maybe I'll get a job in your company one day!"

  • Reply Amber March 25, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    I grew up on The Kids in the Hall but I watch it now and it isn't as funny as I remember it being. Except for "These are the Daves I Know." I love that crap.

    The State can be kind of hit and miss but when it hits it hits really freaking hard. Michael Showalter is my dreamboat.

    I still don't understand why Dave Foley never became famous, though. Have you seen "The Wrong Guy"? Comedy gold.

  • Reply tomgfoto March 25, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Well, 30 Helen's agree with you.

  • Reply mylittlebecky March 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    i don't want to alarm you but i think i love you… KIDS IN THE HALL FOREVER!!!! 🙂

  • Reply emily March 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Ahhh, I disagree. I LOVE THE STATE!!! I got the box set for my boyfriend for his birthday last year and the hilarity has yet to subside, even when watching the episodes for the trillionth time, haha.

  • Reply Christine Macdonald March 26, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Buddy Cole. I have him fav'ed in my You Tube.

    Great post.

    You are a true Hipster.

  • Reply Anastasia October 31, 2010 at 11:32 am

    reading your archives. I like the state but yeah KiTH hands down my favorite. "mmmmm Less in circles, no more in circles"

  • Reply Tim December 2, 2010 at 3:19 am

    My top 30KITH sketches. Both troops are good, but KITH is the best there ever was.

  • Reply Anonymous April 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    You were very unfair and completely off with a lot of these comparisons, especially when it came to memorable characters… What about The State's characters like Doug or Louie or Old Fashioned Guy? You clearly have not watched enough of The State to be able to conjure up a realistic argument between the two shows.

  • Reply Steven McKay July 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    When I read the line Kids in the Hall vs. the State, I assumed it was a court case. Calling Dave Foley less than a man is like saying the President is more European than African. Were the Kids less homophobic, as you must imagine? Probably, since homosexuality was one of their main interests. Not having seen their skits, I am no expert.

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