Thursday, May 1, 2008

RECAP: Kids in the Hall at the Keswick Theatre, 4/30/08

The legendary sketch comedy group the Kids in the Hall have reunited for a live tour and yesterday their appearance in the suburban Philadelphia town of Glenside filled out the one-two punch of comedy at the Keswick Theatre recently. And Meg Favreau of the local sketch group Meg & Rob was there to take in one of her favorite comedians. She'll be performing in 10-minute plays as part of the "Fresh Fish" series as the Walking Fish Theatre this month and she also wrote "The Affair" for the series.

When I was in high school, my friend and I came home early one day and, flipping channels, we happened upon a comedy sketch about a boy keeping a businessman as a pet. At the end of the sketch, when boy returned the businessman to the wild of the city’s financial district, the kid’s mother gave him wet oatmeal as a replacement pet. It was so fantastically hilarious and absurd, so unlike anything I had ever seen, that I sat there dumbfounded. “Is that a young Chris Farley?” my friend asked. No, it was Bruce McCulloch, who would soon become my favorite comedian.

It’s funny – I’ve read a couple of other recaps of the Kids in the Hall’s live performances, and a lot of them start similar to mine, talking about how the Kids in the Hall came into the reviewer’s life at a formative time. For me, growing up in a rural area, the Kids in the Hall showed me that, as cheesy as it sounds now, there were people out there who had a similar sense of humor as me. At the time, that was huge. And even now, the Kids in the Hall remain my biggest influence and inspiration in performing sketch comedy.

So you could say I was a little excited when I went to see them last night.

One of the things the Kids have said in interviews about this tour is that they would be performing mostly new material, and they definitely did. One of the great things about it, though, was that they tackled the new material without alienating fans who came to see favorite reoccurring characters. Thus Buddy Cole, the two salesmen, Gavin, the Chicken Lady, and Cathy and Kathy all showed up. But every single one of them either had a new or rehashed sketch. Buddy spoke about Jesus; the two salesmen did some nice, fierce satire of America (just like they did on the last tour); and Cathy and Kathy did a great piece about using crystal meth as a diet (which was punctuated by ridiculous screams from Bruce). The Gavin and Chicken Lady pieces, meanwhile, were old sketches – the Jehovah’s Witnesses visiting Gavin and the Chicken Lady phone sex line – pumped up with new jokes and a lot more cursing.

My favorite sketches of the night, however, were the new ones that came towards the end of the show, when they had most or all of the guys on stage at once. A sketch about a gay couple who had broken up featured Mark in one of his best characters of the night, a professor who wore a headband and medallion. It was the sort of character where just a bit of pronunciation (“It’s nor-MAL!”) could make the audience erupt. And then there was a classic Bruce monologue-style sketch about how he danced in high school. By the end of the sketch, he was joined on the stage by Dave and Scott as guys in jean jackets, and Mark and Kevin as women in pink shirts and blond wigs. I can say definitively that out of all of the Kids, Kevin still pulls off playing women the best, from his baby-toy-waving wife at the beginning of the show to the woman trying to pick up her volvo in the Car Fuckers sketch.

My favorite sketch by far, however, was “Superdrunk.” It starred Bruce as a superhero who only had powers when intoxicated. Mark and Scott played a perfectly apathetic robber and victim, respectively, and Dave was Bruce’s sidekick, the bartender. Kevin narrated. The sketch made great use of everything from sound effects to background images, and it brought the main part of the show to a great close (the encore featured Mark as the headcrusher, cutting down all the Kids by poking fun at their recent projects).

The best part of the night though, in my opinion, was the stuff that you can only get live. Kevin’s repeated screw up of a line in a sketch about an imaginary girlfriend led him to blurt, “Let’s just imagine that I act better!” This was followed by Dave’s retort, “I’ll just consider that a delicious dialogue salad.” Bruce kept grinning in his scenes, even when he wasn’t supposed to. And when the show was done, the Kids all came out and chatted with folks, signing programs and kindly taking picture after picture. I felt like a dork doing it, but I had the opportunity to tell Bruce what an important influence he’s been on my life.

And man-oh-man, it was awesome.

Don Montrey's take on the Die, Actor, Die blog
Dan Murphy's photos for Philebrity

1 comment:

Don Montrey said...

Yeah Meg. Ditto on just about everything (including the dork part). SUPERDRUNK was my highpoint as well, just fun, silly sketch comedy.