Canadian History for Kids!

Canadian History for Kids: The Kids in the Hall

1989, July 21 – Toronto based The Kids In The Hall variety/comedy show debuts on HBO.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive looks at the Kids In The Hall.

On July 21, 1989, the Canadian sketch comedy group, The Kids in the Hall, debuted their series on HBO in the United States.

The name “the Kids in the Hall” was taken from the comment made by great comedians such as Jack Benny and Sid Caesar when one of their jokes didn’t go over well. They would say the joke came from “the kids in the hall” referring to the young writers hanging around the studios.

The Kids in the Hall, consisted of five comedians, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson. Before the group formed in 1984, two of the members, Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney were already performing together in Calgary, while Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald were performing in Toronto with another comedian, Luciano Casimiri, as The Kids in the Hall.

In 1984, the four met in Toronto and began performing together as The Kids in the Hall. The fifth member changed often until Scott Thompson joined in 1985.

The members split for a time to do other projects, with Mark McKinney and Bruce McCulloch going to New York to write for Saturday Night Live, Dave Foley to work on a movie, and Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson working with the Second City touring group.

They came together again in 1986 as a troupe. When Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels saw them perform, he began plans for a television show. Michaels sent the Kids to New York to train and in 1988 their special appeared on CBC television. While they occasionally used guest actors and some extras, the five members played nearly all the parts, including the female characters (both young and old). It became the show’s trademark to have the members dressed in drag.

The television show ran from 1988 to 1994 on CBC, and from 1989 to 1995 on HBO. The theme song for the televisions show was “Having an Average Weekend, by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.

The show’s skits were considered bizarre with insane twists. They often played themselves rather than characters, with some of skits dealing with the fact that they were a comedy troupe producing a television show. They had one recurring celebrity, Queen Elizabeth II, played by Scott Thompson. Some of the recurring characters included Danny Husk, Mr. Tyzik, The Chicken Lady, and gossiping corporate secretaries Cathy and Kathie.

The show’s finale aired in November of 1994, and was replaced in 1995 with The Late Late Show. At the end of the show, during the credits, two business men bury the Kids in a grave marked “Kids In The Hall, The TV Show 1989-1995”, while guest character and one of the show’s writers, Paul Bellini, dances on their grave in a towel.

After the show ended, The Kids made one movie, Brain Candy. The movie was written by four of the five members and Norm Hiscock. The fifth member, Dave Foley, was busy filming NewsRadio at the time. The movie was produced by Lorne Michaels, directed by Kelly Makin and filmed in Toronto. The movie was released in 1996 to mixed reviews, although it did develop a cult following with the Kids’ devoted fans.

In 2000, the Kids reunited for a North American tour, and in 2010 they wrote, directed and starred in an 8-part miniseries called “Death Comes to Town” which aired on CBC.

On June 3, 2008, the Kids received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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