Kidding Around

The only time I can recall literally rolling with laughter was during a particularly good Monty Python's Flying Circus episode. It contained a sketch that had something to do with a giant electric penguin threatening an Arctic adventurer with octopus-like live-wire tentacles. Looking back, it seems more silly than funny; as is the case in many comic moments, I guess you just had to be there.

Perhaps what makes all of Monty Python's repertoire so off-the-wall is that many of us weren't there. A British show made in the early '70s, Monty Python's Flying Circus contained many social and political references (not to mention the clothes and hairstyles) that are lost on our modern-American, rerun-watching minds.

Although The Kids in the Hall's original award-winning HBO show now lives on in reruns, most of us were around when the Canadian sketch comedy troupe made the scene. The Kids (Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson) slowly assembled during the mid- to late '80s and began working as a group in comedy clubs. It was not too long after that Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels "discovered" them and offered them a television deal. The half-hour sketch comedy show began in 1989, ran until 1995 and has been in reruns ever since.

The show, unlike Monty Python's, featured a cast that viewers could relate to, actually a little something like myself, generally unkempt and dressed in sneakers, jeans and button-up shirts with the sleeves rolled up. The topics they handled weren't really even topical at all. The Kids in the Hall will remain relevant because their humor does not stem from the headlines of the times. The subtleties of characters and situations were their focus, and they were able to magnify these through keen observation. If it wasn't just far out (characters like the Chicken Lady or Cabbagehead), the humor was, at times, almost deadpan. It dealt mainly with things such as dating (like the Pythons, the Kids in the Hall all-male cast had to cross-dress to portray women), domestic issues, the workplace, garage bands or the ever-present "whatever." Although I never rolled in laughter, more important, I identified.

After making the overlooked movie Brain Candy in 1996, the group eventually drifted apart, but they never officially broke up, regrouping for the occasional tour. Their most recent tour of live ensemble comedy and solo monologues, coming to the Bronco Bowl on Friday, will deal with some familiar characters and sketches. Sir Simon Milligan will hiss and hypnotize, while the evil Hecubus serves his master faithfully. Buddy Cole will dish and vamp unmercifully, and, we can only cross our fingers and hope, Bobby will battle Satan in a guitar duel and Rod Torfulson's Armada will play a song or two.

Besides the theater show, the Kids will also be making an in-store appearance at Virgin Megastore to do a little comedy, some stand-up and the rest "locally flavored" (Mavericks? Jerry Jones? George Bush? Easy to find targets here) to promote Same Guys, New Dresses, a DVD that documents the gang's 2000 tour. Here are two chances to be there this time.

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Mark Hughes