Though any new episodes have been absent from the airwaves for 15 years, the shadow of Canadian cult comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall still looms large.
Their special brand of broad, gender-bending, absurdist and abstract sketch humour was a staple of CBC’s prime time schedule circa 1988 to 1994, inspiring a generation of comedians.
And, although they’ve continued to tour extensively in North America, true Kids completists, who’ve been clamoring for their return to TV, finally have cause for celebration with Death Comes to Town — an eight-part miniseries starting Tuesday.
Charting the tapestry of grimly hilarious events that befall the dimwitted populace of backwater town Shuckton, Ont., after the grim reaper (Mark McKinney) arrives, the show features the original Kids.
They play almost every onscreen character — male and female — and the show is full of the kind of cruel wit the troupe trades in.
“Almost everything I’ve written stems from an image,” says Death Comes to Town co-writer/producer Bruce McCulloch.
“Here it’s Death getting off a Greyhound bus in a small town and the possibilities for comedy that could follow. We were on tour, and I had written an outline to do the show as a feature film, but ultimately it made more sense to do a miniseries. We have a lot more freedom here to get deeper into the characters’ drawers.”
McCulloch’s countercultural influences have always been evident in The Kids in the Hall, with the results being that even at their warmest, there’s always a sort of anti-establishment refusal to behave in their skits.
“I think our show has always had a rock’ n’roll edge,” he says. “I love Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, and I really love weird movies. I stole a lot of David Lynch’s feel for Death Comes to Town.
“When I was younger, I used to get drunk every night and watch Eraserhead. Because of this, my wife says everything I touch instantly turns to cult. This usually means the kids are hungry but, there it is …”