By JOHN BENSON
Special to The Gazette
Similar to the â€™90s alt rock movement, which saw underground bands move into the limelight, the sketch comedy show â€œThe Kids in the Hallâ€ flirted with the mainstream.
Discovered by Lorne Michaels, The Kids in the Hall troupe, which features the off-the-wall and oftentimes subversive comedy stylings of Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson, debuted on HBO in 1989 but reached a larger audience when â€œComedy Centralâ€ began airing its repeats.
The troupeâ€™s distinctly edgy humor broke new ground with their characterizations of secretaries, prostitutes, gays, drug users and oddball creations like the half-human Chicken Lady, the vengeful Head Crusher and the chauvinist Cabbage Head.
Still, among its peer shows (â€œThe Stateâ€ and â€œMr. Showâ€ come to mind), â€œThe Kids in the Hallâ€ may be underrated in both its material and its influence on latter day comedy.
â€œIâ€™ve always said we were The Pixies of comedy,â€ said McDonald, calling from Portland, Ore. â€œI said we paved the way for the Nirvana of Comedy, which would be â€˜South Parkâ€™ and Tom Green. But people always go back to The Pixies.â€
Just like The Pixies earlier this decade, The Kids in the Hall group are back with a new tour â€” its first since 2002 â€” that the act hopes will cash in on its legend. Titled â€œLive As Weâ€™ll Ever Be,â€ the show is scheduled to play Cleveland tonight at the Palace Theatre.
â€œWeâ€™re trying to sell out, but by sell out that means doing our stuff and hoping it hits a bigger audience,â€ McDonald said. â€œIt would be impossible for us to write mainstream stuff. It would be impossible for us to sell out creatively because weâ€™re just not that good enough to do that.â€
For those Kids in the Hall fans who were there in the beginning, theyâ€™ll be excited to see new sketches featuring familiar characters Chicken Lady, Gavin Sketch and Head Crusher interspersed with new material.
The Kids in the Hall present â€œLive as Weâ€™ll Ever Beâ€ at 8 p.m. today at the Palace Theatre, 1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Tickets are $39.75 at Tickets.com outlets. For more information, call 216-241-6000 or visit www.tickets.com.
Benson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.