The Kids in the Hall are a Canadian sketch comedy group that has been making audiences laugh for nearly 40 years. Made up of Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson, Kevin McDonald and Mark McKinney, the troupe is the epitome of Canadian comedy, and we’re celebrating their legacy by presenting some little-known facts about their origins and most popular sketches.
Brain Candy was made during a particularly difficult time for the group
The 1996 film Brain Candy was a hit both in Canada and the United States, but what audiences might not have realized was that there was a lot of tension and personal issues going on during the filming process. One of the most notable issues was Foley leaving the group over creative issues and after having landed a role in NewsRadio. He lost his writing credit for the movie, but was contractually obliged to appear.
According to Thompson, the other members of the group were also experiencing personal strife. In an interview with NOW Magazine, he revealed, “In the period of a month, Dave’s marriage broke up, one of Kevin’s parents died, and my brother committed suicide. I was pretty much in shock. My brother died literally a week before we started shooting. All those things conspired to make it a dark time.”
The show almost didn’t happen – because of Saturday Night Live!
Prior to becoming the comedy troupe we know and love, the members of The Kids in the Hall were doing their own things. Foley and McDonald were performing under the moniker, while McCulloch and McKinney were performing improv together. Eventually, the four men met and began doing comedy together, solidifying their bond in 1985 with the addition of Thompson to the group.
That same year, Saturday Night Live came knocking and asked McCulloch and McKinney to join the show’s ranks as writers. The Kids in the Hall broke up during this time. Thankfully, the pair only worked for SNL for one season before reuniting with the rest of the group, and not long after Lorne Michaels set the gears in motion for their very own TV show!
“Girl Drink Drunk” has a not-so-happy origin story
Arguably one of the best sketches by The Kids in the Hall (even if it’s not as appreciated as some of their others), “Girl Drink Drunk” features Foley playing a corporate climber who’s pressured by his coworkers to drink alcohol for the very first time. He ends up liking the drinks that “taste like candy” and falls into the depths of alcoholism.
While entertaining to watch, the story behind the sketch isn’t so funny. It all started at a show in Calgary, before the group’s TV show. McCulloch was having a rough night, so McKinney suggested they hit a bar by their hotel. It was there McCulloch had his first-ever alcoholic beverage, after McKinney told him, “Have a margarita. You’ll like it. It tastes just like candy.”
A fan once gave them cow eyes… To eat!
The majority of celebrities likely have stories about strange and unsettling fan encounters, but we bet none come as close to this tale. While speaking with The A.V. Club, McDonald revealed that one supporter gave the group an unusual present: cow eyes!
“Once a Kids in the Hall fan in Vancouver gave us a jar of cow eyes,” he said during the interview. “He spread it on a plate for us and wanted us to eat them.” Before you ask, no, the troupe didn’t end up eating the eyes, thank goodness!
They stand by their Cancer Boy character
Kids in the Hall fans likely remember Cancer Boy, the character McCulloch played in both the final episode of the series and Brain Candy. While intended to mock the numerous celebrities who use sick children to keep themselves in the spotlight, many took the character to be the group’s way of mocking children with cancer. Paramount even requested they cut the character out!
In an interview with The A.V. Club, McCulloch shared that he still stands by the character, saying, “I love Cancer Boy more than anybody. I was tired of the way that little kids with cancer were used by celebrities for photo-ops. If the kid goes into remission, does Wayne Gretzky still visit him?”
The rest of the group has since echoed their support, despite the issues the character caused, with Thompson saying in a 2016 interview with Consequence, “You know, nowadays, people wouldn’t blink an eye. But back then, it was a huge deal. In so many ways, Cancer Boy is what sunk our film. I’m still proud of it, and I still stand by what we did – and I wouldn’t have changed anything – but Cancer Boy was a real game changer for us.
“Paramount really wanted us gone, and it came down to a standoff and we insisted,” he continued. “After that, they pulled all of their publicity money. So we kind of screwed up, I guess. I guess we screwed up financially, and we screwed up business-wise, but artistically we did not, because we did stick to our artistic guns.”
They’re forever immortalized on Canada’s Walk of Fame
In 2008, The Kids in the Hall were inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. Located in Toronto, Ontario, the Walk of Fame is a way of acknowledging the accomplishments of Canadian talent. While the Hollywood Walk of Fame presents inductees with a star, Canada’s version features a maple leaf-like star.
Those who also have a maple leaf on Canada’s Walk of Fame include Margaret Atwood, Jim Carrey, Kim Cattrall and Céline Dion, among others!
The show is returning for one more season!
It might be 27 years since the Kids in the Hall TV series came to an end, but that doesn’t mean it can’t return – and that’s exactly what’s happening! A brand new eight-episode season of the series will be debuting on May 13, 2022 on Amazon Prime. The best part? All five members of the troupe will be participating!
Appearing alongside the members will be a host of fellow comedians and actors, including Jay Baruchel, Mark Hamill, Catherine O’Hara and Will Forte.
That’s not all. Amazon Prime has also announced that a new documentary about the group, titled The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks, will be premiering on the streaming service on May 20, after its appearance at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto.