Friday, April 25, 2008

A Long Time Coming: the Kids in the Hall at the Uptown Theater

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 1:56 PM

By CHRIS PACKHAM

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Canadian comedy troupe the Kids in the Hall performed a two-hour set of mostly new material last night at the Uptown Theater. At least, the only sketch I recognized from the TV series was the "Chicken Lady Phone Sex" sketch. A return to form for the Kids in the Hall, the show also hearkens to their roots working stages in small clubs when they were in their twenties.

Five guys, dozens of characters, zero sets. Well, how would you do it, Baby Genius? The show, Live As We'll Ever Be, is a revue of sketches, demanding dozens of locations which the group evoked via a formal theatrical technique called the Wondrous Magic of Imagination. Plus, they made clever use of a back-projected Powerpoint-y display to suggest locations and transitions, as well as a couple of taped sketches and live shots of the audience at the Uptown, about which MORE LATER.

In an enormously crowd-pleasing show that featured a super-powered drunk, gay stage kisses, one stage blow job, a time helmet and attempted statutory rape of a retarded teen girl with a soy candle, the group also revisited classic characters from the television series in new situations:

  • Hello, Buddy Cole! Until I saw him, I had no idea how much I missed Scott Thompson's gracefully aging, martini-swilling raconteur, Charles Budderick Cole. He was absent even from the 1996 Brain Candy, the last major creative collaboration by the Kids in the Hall. Unencumbered by TV time restrictions, Thompson delivered a hilarious monologue postulating the homosexuality of Jesus with biblical citations and Andrew Lloyd Weber references that went on for, like, 10 minutes.
  • Two missionaries, played by Dave Foley and my new best friend Kevin McDonald, knock on a suburban door and are greeted by Bruce McCulloch's Gavin, the loquacious and inventive 8-year-old. "Did you know? That if your mom dies? And you tell the bus driver? You can ride FOR FREE!"
  • In the show's encore, Mr. Tyzik, arguably Mark McKinney's most popular character, came out brandishing a video camera and crushing the heads of audience members on the giant projection screen. As a finale, Mr.Tyzik crushed the heads of each individual member of the KITH after hurling some actually pretty dire personal and professional criticisms, including — in a Smeagol vs. Gollum internal struggle — at himself.

My favorite moment of the show occurred after some technical fuck-ups that interrupted a new sketch with Foley and McDonald, and fully encapsulates why the Kids in the Hall are so great: Sixty seconds after beginning the sketch, realizing an off-stage Scott Thompson's mic was still on, the two shouted at him, aborting the scene. "Too bad. It's really a great sketch," Foley said, laughing. Starting over, they redelivered the scene's opening dialogue at a double-time clip, arriving at their previous stopping point.

"And now, the premise," said Foley to the audience, and the ensuing scene was brilliant and surreal and totally hilarious. The two actors, who hadn't performed original material together since Brain Candy, delivered their lines with confidence and fun, as though the scene — like the group's professional collaboration — had proceeded uninterrupted. HEY! Look what I did there.

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