Browsing Tag

Kids in the Hall

Austin, Pop Culture

Austin’s Moontower Comedy Festival Has So Many Boinkable Comedians This Year

Buddy Cole Kids in the Hall

Guys, I’m stoked.

The Moontower Comedy Festival just started and I got a press badge. For this blog.

How the hell that happened, I’m not sure.

All I know is that that means I can stalk write about the Kids in the Hall.

Man, I love the Kids in the Hall. I’ve written about them a disgusting amount on this blog.

They, along with Fleetwood Mac, single-handedly helped shape who I am, which is a fucking weirdo.

What are the similarities between the Kids in the Hall and Fleetwood Mac? Absolutely nothing, but my 15-year-old chubby ass loved both of them.

I wanted to be a Canadian filmmaker because of the Kids in the Hall. I spent most of my seventeenth year desperately trying to figure out how to get my very pale, very chubby ass to Toronto for film school, and no one knew how to get me there. In fact, my guidance counselor told me, “I’ve never had a student who wanted to go to Canada.”

So I gave up on my dream, friends. It died like a sad fly trapped in a car without air conditioning.

I’ve Continue Reading

Pop Culture

Mortified Comes to TV!

Have you ever been to Mortified? I have and I nearly pissed my pants and started crying. People recollecting stories of their rudimentary and pubescent years is both entertaining and nausea-inducing. It stirs up memories you’ve locked deeply away, memories that you want no one knowing except for your therapist and maybe your 16 cats to know. It brings you confidence in knowing that you’re not alone, that others were as fucking weird as you were as a child. It makes you feel compelled to share these deep dark secrets with the world. It drives you to drink to forget these memories.

If you’re not as lucky to experience Mortified live, now you can check out Mortified on TV. Starting Dec 5th at 8PM, Mortified will be airing ten episodes of cringe-worthy hilarity on the Sundance Channel. Guests include Will Forte, Ed Helms, Cheryl Hines, Paul Feig, and Alanis Morissette. I’m particularly intrigued in hearing Alanis considering most of Jagged Little Pill was like one giant episode of Continue Reading

Austin, Film, Music, Pop Culture

SXSW Adventures Continued: These Are the Daves I Know

So, the other night we hung out with Dave Foley again. He got us into the green room at the IFC SXSW venue and we hung out with Michael Ian Black, Aziz Ansari, and Thomas Lennon. I was too nervous to say anything to them. The evening then took us all over Austin where at any given time you could see me walking with my arm around Dave Foley, me slapping Dave Foley when he would say something insanely dirty, Dave Foley peeing on the side of a building, and Dave Foley lying down on the ground. Dave was stopped every five minutes with people literally freaking out when they recognized him. Dave got a wee bit tipsy and there is a good chance he may hate us now. It was quite the evening. Here are some snapshots.

Austin, Film, Music, Pop Culture

I Like SXSW Because it Brings Me Closer to My Idols

I can’t get over at how much around this time Austin looks like LA. As I was sitting in a cafe downtown waiting to hook up with my publicist friend at the party for his client, Edgar Wright, and watched all the people in fancy clothing waiting in lines, I thought, “I’m absolutely 100% in Los Angeles again.” However, only in appearance. New Yorkers and Angelenos trickle in by the boat loads during SXSW, but the spirit of the city doesn’t necessarily leave. In fact, the outsiders adapt to us. It’s still good ol’ Austin at the core. Austin brings the best out in celebrities, or it only brings the best celebrities. I’m not sure which. Either way, this point was proven to me when I hung out with one of my childhood idols this weekend.

Friday night my gentleman friend and I went to the opening party for SXSW. The party was hosted in a gargantuan space in the middle of rowdy 6th Street. We were chatting with various folks when I recognized the man standing next to me as Dave Foley. As many of you know, I’m stupid about the Kids in the Hall. If you don’t know, I will tell you that when I was a high school student I wanted to go to film school in Toronto because of the Kids in the Hall. A fact that I told Dave Foley after my 3rd tequila shot.

I was sort of starstruck spotting Dave and I would have been too shy to say anything, but gentleman friend is not, so he walked right up to Dave and was like, “Hey!” and Dave said, “Hey!” back and that started an entire evening of drinking and hanging out with Dave Foley… and me resorting back to a nerdy 15 year-old girl and calling my mother at 2:30AM going, “You will never guess who I’m doing tequila shots with!”

Dave is in town for his new stand-up venture. If you checked out his super interesting podcast on Mark Maron’s “WTF?” Dave talks about how he’s doing stand-up to pay for his astronomical child supports bills in Canada. I couldn’t help but think of this when I saw him standing at the bar ordering drink after drink.

Dave was totally cool. He looked you in the eye when you spoke. He listened to what you were saying. He leaned in closer to get a better listen. He was interesting and funny and looked like he was having a great time, though he was there by himself.

And for some reason I felt totally obliged to tell Dave about the four times I saw the Kids in the Hall live, and about how I totally fell in love with their latest project Death Comes to Town and how I saw Kevin McDonald’s one-man show Hammy and the Kids recently and he didn’t seem to mind the fact that I was totally geeking out on him at all. In fact, he told me that they’re planning on doing another series like Death Comes to Talk and how everyone in the Kids is a fan of Kevin’s show. I love the Kids a lot, and I can talk about them for years, so it was nice talking to someone who knew what I was talking about because he was there. I told him who I used to work for in LA and he pointed out that they were in a movie together and we talked about Los Angeles and then gentleman friend invited Dave tubing on Monday (today) and Dave was totally for it and we all just laughed and drank and gentleman friend got going on about physics and we were all like, “whoa….” (see below) and then the end of the evening came and we said bye to Dave Foley.  I really didn’t take much weight into Dave actually coming tubing today, but an acquaintance said he ran into Dave yesterday who asked when we were all going tubing. So, in other words, my friends are going tubing with Dave Foley today and I’m sitting at my work computer writing this.

P.S. Saw some great movies this weekend that I can’t wait to talk about with you!

Film, Pop Culture

An Open Letter to the Kids in the Hall

source

Hey, feel free to pass this on to any of the Kids in the Hall if you know them. 

Dear Kevin, Dave, Scott, Mark, and Bruce,

I’m a grown woman. I’m 27 years old now. I’m at the age where I would have finally figured out how to balance my checkbook properly if we still used checkbooks.

However, something happened to me when I watched your new show Death Comes to Town yesterday. I resorted back into pubescent 15 year-old nerd girl who used to make Headcrusher home movies in her basement instead of hanging out with kids her own age. The dweeb who used to fantasize about Bruce McCulloch’s little man dance jerks instead of Justin Timberlake’s not little-man dance jerks. The kid who anxiously fidgeted on the school bus ride home every day, contemplating what back-to-back episodes of Kids in the Hall were recording on the VCR and what flavor of Hot Pocket she was going to gorge herself with..

While enjoying your latest production, I could distinctly recall the surge of, let’s just call it “stimulation”, that I felt after I watched an episode of the Kids in the Hall. I’ve been a fan of your troupe and subsequent individual ventures for a very long time, but truthfully, Death Comes to Town is quite possibly your greatest achievement yet. I lapped up all eight episodes in one sitting and was heart-broken when the viewing was over. I miss you guys. I miss the days of being a little girl and thinking, “I want to grow up and move to Canada!” I miss the days of forcing my friends at emotional gunpoint to reenact your skits in the basement. I miss secretly wishing I was a flamboyant gay man in a velour jacket, a misunderstood half-chicken, and a dude who had produce for a head.

I distinctly remember the first time I saw you. I hated you. Your off-beat humor, overtly sexual jokes, and depressing personal subject matter made my tween ignorance uncomfortable. Not even aware that you had a television show, my friend Dan rented your movie Brain Candy and I was positively disgusted after the film finished.

And piqued.
And intrigued.
And dare I say, aroused?

I went home later that evening thinking about scenes from your movie and just couldn’t get you out of my head. It was like masturbating for the first time and being simultaneously appalled and pleased with oneself. The only other movie to do that to me was Monster’s Ball and the similarities between the two films is uncanny. I decided that a film that would give me such a reaction deserved a second viewing. Watching Brain Candy for a second time, was liking watching it for the first time, but instead of sweating and violent knee-jerks, I felt enlightened. Transformed! It was after then that I decided I absolutely adored you. I wanted to know everything about you and I discovered that you once had a TV show. A TV show! How delightful! Now I could have hours upon hours with you guys. At that time, Comedy Central was syndicating two episodes a day at 2:00PM and 2:30PM and I was in heaven.

I religiously watched your show. I still have an entire library of VHS tapes lining the back wall of my childhood bedroom. Ever though the film has probably eroded away, you will never be discarded for those tapes symbolize a portion of my childhood where creative pursuits were illogical and ill-conceived. A time I miss dearly. You amongst few others- including Pee-Wee Herman, Gene Wilder, and David Byrne-  helped define my path to working in the film business. And though I didn’t become a comic, and though I’m not even remotely funny, your writing and frankness has always remained a breath of fresh air creatively for me. An inspiration that humor can be found in all aspects of life- whether it’s one’s drunken dad, emotionless mother, flaming sexuality, f’ed up relationships, or dead-end dreams.

I saw you live four times. Five if you included Kevin’s recent one-man variety show about the Kids in the Hall and his alcoholic father calledHammy and the Kids. My mother ventured through the snowstorm of a century in Buffalo, NY to make sure us kids got to your show. We met you. My boyfriend at the time said something to you, Dave, about how Phil Hartman’s death sucking and you just blinked at him. I would have too. I then ventured through another murderous snowstorm- we were stopped many ‘a times due to people flipping their cars on route 281- to see you in Washington D.C. A few years later I saw you in the other armpit of New York state, Syracuse, and I don’t really remember that show. I’m sure it was great. However, the most notable show, for me, was the four-night only, new material set I caught at a tiny theater in Hollywood. I was a big girl now. Having made my way to Los Angeles. Someone told me about your barely publicized show at the Steve Allen Theater. You all came out on stage and made a joke about what skits to do and suggested that maybe you should rape Kevin. I didn’t laugh. In fact, I was like, “Awww, man! What the fuck is this crap?” But as soon as the theme music kicked in and you got the show rolling, I found myself welling up with tears of pride. All my kids have grown up- and turned into my Dad.

I’ve enjoyed some but not all of your endeavors post-Kids in the Hall, but yesterday, yesterday I saw your masterpiece as a whole. Your Twin Peak-esque comedy about murder, soul-snorting, and retarded children. is magnificent. And that is not a hyperbole. I truly mean the dictionary definition of magnificent- “glorious and wonderful”. I was taken aback by your seeming ease in resurrecting the form of characters that made you so popular. It just seemed so natural- as if no time had passed at all- but was even better this time around. Everything about the writing and the acting just seemed to gel. I found myself not only laughing at your legendary irreverent humor, but completely engrossed in the storyline. I wanted to know what was going to happen. That is something that never happened before, and is not particularly easy for a sketch comedy team. Everything about your new show just….worked. It was as if the years enabled you to bring a whole new dimension to your work.

Will you make more goodness, please? Help this young woman to desperately hold onto the past?

Yours always,
Lauren

More reading:
Hipstercrite- Kids in the Hall vs. The State- which is better?
WTF with Marc Maron- Dave Foley talks about his messed-up first marriage and court ordered stand-up

Film, Pop Culture

Hammy and The Kids


Kevin was always my favorite Kid in the Hall.
I’m not sure why.
All the other Kids were equally talented and adorable.

Was it because of Kevin’s curly coiffure?
Maybe.
I’ve always been a sucker for white boys with bouffants that make them look like hairy lollipops.

Was it his spastic and awkward hand gestures and movements?
Maybe.
I’ve always had a thing for men who look like they suffer from mild retardation.

Was it his spontaneous, high-pitched outbursts and subsequent tongue rolls?
Probably not.

But maybe it was all of these attributes rolled into one that made me love Kevin McDonald.

And after seeing him spill his guts in his one-man show about his alcoholic father and The Kids in the Hall, titled, “Hammy and the Kids” for the Out of Bounds Comedy Tour, I fell in love with Kevin all over again.


Kevin McDonald had a pretty shitty upbringing.
Remember The Kids in the Hall skit, “Daddy Drank”? (see below)
Well, that was his childhood.
Full of memories of an alcoholic verbally and psychically abusive father named Hamilton- Hammy for short. He was a dental equipment salesman and he liked to remind Kevin that he was fat and couldn’t meet girls.

“Oh, son! Son, how many girls called you today? Zero? And how many girls called you yesterday? Lemme guess — zero? Well, you know what they say, son. Zero plus zero equals FAG! Zero times any other number always equals FAG! Think about it, ya little mathematician.”

Like the beginning of many biographies of comedians, Kevin’s burden pushed him to become “the funny guy” and after getting kicked out of acting school, he joined Toronto’s Second City Improv where he met Dave Foley and this other dude who is pretty much the equivalent of “the other guy” in Wham! It was there that they formed the first incarnation of The Kids in the Hall (a name that Jack Benny gave the young writers hanging around his offices). After a few years of performing the Toronto comedy scene, the group met Mark McKinney and Bruce McCulloch (who were part of a popular Calgary comedy troupe called The Audience). The teams combined forces and took Toronto by storm!

But where did Scott come from, you ask? Well, as Kevin explained, Scott just kept showing up at their shows and forcing himself onstage (Kevin shares a number of stories about the “functioning craziness” of Scott Thompson).

The troupe spent years writing and developing new material. They broke up for some time in the mid-80’s to work on separate endeavors (Mark and Bruce had brief stints as writers on SNL, Dave tried acting, and Scott and Kevin kept doing improv), but ultimately reconvened and landed a TV pilot for CBC and HBO with SNL creator Lorne Michaels. During this time, Hammy’s drinking got worse. His family had already left him and he was living on the street.

Kevin goes on to sing and dance (using those words lightly) the history of The Kids in the Hall (the successful five year TV show run, the Paramount feature, Brain Candy, a number of popular comedy tours, and their latest TV venture, “Death Comes to Town“) and his father’s further decline into alcoholism. During the crucial script deadline for Brain Candy, Kevin’s father called to tell him that he locked himself up in a hotel room and would drink himself to death unless Kevin came to see him. Kevin arrived at the hotel room to see the bed covered in blood and his Dad incoherent and refusing to get help. Being a self-proclaimed passive aggressive (another song featured in the show), Kevin finally let out years of anger towards his father and forced him into the hospital.

As the show ends, Kevin explains that there is no happy ending for him to conclude with. Though his career has continued to survive with The Kids in the Hall, he never had the fairy tale movie ending-esque heart-to-heart with Hammy, who died about ten years later.

This show was dark. Some friends even complained that it may be too dark, equating it to a public therapy session with a sad middle aged man. However, that was my favorite aspect of the show. Having been obsessed with The Kids in the Hall from the ages of 15-18 (and wanting to move to Toronto to become a filmmaker because they were from there and because I was an asexual nerd) and knowing every nuance of their biography, this shed a whole new light on not only the never-before-heard facets of the troupe, but what made Kevin into Kevin. Though I thought some of Kevin’s jokes seemed a little force, he proved to us again that one of the areas he’s best at is story. Kevin’s characters always balanced the fine line between comical and pathetic (think “Weekend with Daddy“or Chris Cooper’s father in Brain Candy, which I kept help but feel are homages to Hammy), and that is exactly what “Hammy and The Kids” is. Kevin knows just how to take us on that emotional roller coaster of snickering one minute, then wondering if you should be laughing at something so horrible the next.

And I believe that is the essence of what made the Kids in the Hall so great. Finding the funny in the sad reality of alcoholic fathers, awkward adolescence, homophobia, dead-end jobs, and Canadian suburbia .

Here is an interesting interview with Kevin regarding his show and the other Kids reactions to it at The Onion’s A..V Club.

P.S. and on a side note, if anyone cares, my ex, Mustache, the one I wrote the post about and got in trouble with, we’re all cool now.

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. NYC- KitH 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 Truth- The 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.
AND THE WINNER IS????
Kids in the Hall=4
The State=3
(Of course The Kids in the Hall would win….I will always be a KitH girl)
Film, Pop Culture

Top Eleven Kids in the Hall Skits

I used to pretend I was Buddy Cole. It seems fitting that I would pretend to be an extremely effeminate bar fly who loved wearing a velvet jackets and loafers with no socks at fifteen years of age.

When I wasn’t Buddy, I was Kathy with “K”. Or the Chicken Lady.

Sometimes I’d pretend to be Jocelyn the French-Canadian prostitute (I wanted to be as pretty as Dave Foley). Once I was Sir Simon Milligan AND Hecubus. Needless to say, as a teenager, I was obsessed with the Kids in the Hall. I forced all my friends to watch the show with me and reenact every episode.

I’m sorry.

I’ve been lucky enough to see the guys live four times, including an intimate, four-night only gig in Hollywood last year. I’ve also met them a few times, but the only thing I can remember is when in 1998, my bumbling high school boyfriend said to Dave Foley, “That really sucks about Phil Hartman.”. Dave stared at him, open-mouthed, then said, “Uh yeah, sure sucks that he was killed, huh?”

While I work on my epic post, “The Kids in the Hall vs. The State” here is a list of my favorite Kids in the Hall skits. What are yours?

1.) Sausages- Eraserhead much? Bruce is an expressionless young man working at a sausage factory. His life is consists of feeding his debilitated father, checking sausage weiners with a magnifying glass and ignoring his mean boss. The only thing he has to look forward to? Daydreaming about the gigantic Eastern European-looking woman who works on the assembly line. No image on KitH was more haunting than Scott as a drooling invalid, slamming his plate against the table, screaming in slow motion, “I want more sausages!”

2.) My Pen- This guy really wants his pen back, ok?

3.) The Beard- Kevin returns from vacation with a beard. The beard starts to go to his head, then seemingly gives him “super powers.” When his wife jokingly tells him to shave the beard, he screams, “No! The beard stays! You go!” After taking off his shirt and ripping apart his chair at work, he feels suffocated by his new beard and flings himself off a balcony. When his wife comes to identify the body, the beard is gone! Rod Serling couldn’t do any better.

4.) My Horrible Secret- Another absurd black & white short by Bruce. This one is about a man and his toupee. It took me years to appreciate all the jerky struts, robotic hand movements, and weird lip-licking of Mr. McCulloch. I had a very brief conversation with him at Whole Foods in Los Angeles once (mostly me going, “Holy shit! It’s you!)  He’s pretty much like all his characters rolled into one. Why was I surprised?

5.) Bleeding Ear- A classic gag skit that involves unstoppable ear bleeding. “Wow! A talking cat!”

6.) Gavin and The Evangelists- Who doesn’t love Gavin and his incredible observations of the world?  “I’ll eat your Bible, but it will take me several days of munching and snacking.”

7.) Chicken Lady Visits Her Old House- Chicken Lady takes a trip with the Bearded Lady to visit her childhood home. Or is it? I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry at this one.

8.) Daddy Drank- Daddy drank a lot. “Get a good night’s rest, and remember, I can murder you while you sleep. It’s easy, son. All you have to be is quiet and willing to do it. And son, I am willing to do it.”

9.) Do-Re-Mi Song- An over-the-top dance sequence of the guys singing Do-Re-Mi in business suits. Sound stupid? It sure is.

10.) Girl Drink Drunk- The Kids in the Hall were always good at absurd, sometimes depressing, narrative skits. In this one, we watch a businessman spiral out of control amongst cocktail umbrellas and primary colored drinks.

11.) Weekend with Daddy- A depressed father, living in a dark room with a single light bulb swinging from the ceiling, has his kids for the weekend. Amongst the littered liquor bottles he teaches his children to say, “My mother is a whore,” before driving to her house and beating her new boyfriend with a bat. Wow, this doesn’t sound funny at all. Actually, this sounds like what happens every time I read the Los Angeles Times. Is it safe to say that the Kids have daddy issues?