Sketch comedy never really goes away. “Saturday Night Live” has been a mainstay (if an inconsistent one) of American comedy for 40 years, and most of the biggest comedic stars come through an improv or sketch school of one sort or another (be it Upright Citizens Brigade, The Groundlings or Second City).
But with Comedy Central shows like “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Key & Peele” leading the way, the new comedy renaissance has a strong affinity for the short-form sketch. And for those too young for “SNL’s” (first) glory days and the across-the-pond insanity of Monty Python, there may be no more influential troupe to do it than Kids in the Hall, the five Canadians brought to U.S. television by Lorne Michaels in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The quintet is back on the road again, with both new material and classic bits, so for those too young to know the Kids in their prime, take this list to YouTube and get to learnin’.
Evil has never seemed as banal as it is in the hands of Simon and his manservant Hecubus. Dave Foley’s “aaaaaaaand Satan!” is as memorable as Dana Carvey’s/Church Lady’s invocation of the Dark Lord.
Ask a Kids fan what he or she thinks about “Citizen Kane,” and that person will be much more likely to mention Kevin McDonald than Orson Wells. It may be the best example of taking a thin premise and taking it to absurd, dark extremes.
The Chicken Lady. The secretaries sketches. A poker game that turns into longing for the feeling of pregnancy. Girl Drink Drunk. The Kids were often at their funniest playing around with the expectations and stereotypes of gender.
Of all the recurring characters on the show, Mark McKinney’s lonely, middle-aged man who mock-crushes the heads of passersby, (almost) always from a safe distance, may have the most instantly-recognizable catchphrase.
Whether it was Bruce McCulloch’s open letter to someone who stole his bicycle tire, Dave Foley’s “bad doctor” or Scott Thompson’s recurring bon vivant, Buddy Cole, each member of the troupe got plenty of opportunities to shine solo.
If you go: Kids in the Hall performs two shows (7:30 and 10 p.m.) on Friday at Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St., 212-840-2824, sold out.