Cabbage Head Must Die
May 14, 2022 2:37 AM   Subscribe

I don't know how I missed the kids in the hall re-union(?) re-start(?) until two days ago... but that, this post, and Dave Foley on LoL Canada and I'm ready to squish your head!
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:09 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Love the article, one of my childhood role models was the amazing Chicken Lady. She was strong and did whatever she wanted. And she was a total sexaholic which was fascinating to me as a little girl.

posted by RobinofFrocksley at 5:16 AM on May 14 [28 favorites]

That’s an interesting article and the thesis is well argued, but before I know what to think of it, I’ll need to know how many Helens agree with it.
posted by Kattullus at 5:19 AM on May 14 [65 favorites]

Hey! Just last night I watched this 10m interview with the group and I thought about posting it. Mostly I wanted to post it to get a survey on people's opinions of Dave Foley's hair, but I finally decided it must be a wig. Scott seems to be.. difficult.

I saw them live in San Fran and have a t-shirt! Though, we were in the back half and the front half of the theater was loud and it was hard to hear. : /

Ok now I shall go rtfa.
posted by Glinn at 5:40 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

I hope my parents know that this was the secret rock and roll that twisted my mind and destroyed my moral core. Except, as this article outlines, it kind of didn’t, because KITH jokes usually are centered around how people are better than they appear to be. Unexpected compassion is a hilarious gag and it’s a staple of these shows. The outlook that everyone is weirder and better than they appear at first blush is one I’ve held on to, and it’s worked well for me over the years.

It’s hard to overestimate how different their show was than what else you were seeing on cable at the time, especially in regards to how women were treated. Canada seemed like this bizarre mirror universe where male fragility was discussed and jokes didn’t always have to feature balls. Thanks, this show, for making my life tangibly better at a point in time where it was critical.

Also, the soundtrack to Brain Candy introduced me to so many bands - it’s a perfect mixtape and you should listen to it right now.
posted by q*ben at 6:25 AM on May 14 [34 favorites]

I try not to hold things from my childhood as sacred... but it's definitely nice to hear in retrospect how important KITH was to a diverse group of people back in the day. There was always a warped humanism to the show, which I like to think had a positive impact on me growing up.

I also thought the interview that Glinn linked was interesting. It was a little disappointing to hear Dave Foley and Scott Thompson express frustration about left wing censorship, although I think they tried to add some context. But still it was nice to hear Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney push back and say they like how compassion and responsibility are more central than they used to be. It's interesting to see how Bruce... who I think was always the weirdest KITH... is also probably the sweetest.
posted by Alex404 at 6:41 AM on May 14 [23 favorites]

who I think was always the weirdest KITH... is also probably the sweetest.

If you missed it, and I think almost everyone did, go find Carpoolers on YouTube. This ABC (USA) sitcom was created by McCulloch in 2007 and then fell victim to the WGA writers strike and was cancelled after one season.

It's got a good streak of KITH weirdness (including cameos from McDonald and Thompson), explores the boundaries of masculinity a bit, and is overall really sweet. It's a shame it never got renewed.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:18 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]

I watched kith reruns on vh1 all the time in high school. Kevin was my favorite. Looking back, I definitely laughed at, rather than laughed with. But, it was also a frank and open portrait of feminist and queer issues that I didn't have access to anywhere else. Not sure if I'll enjoy the new show... But I'll give it a look.
posted by rebent at 7:37 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

I recently binged all of the original run of Kids in the Hall, and I was amazed how much of it held up. (The little that didn't was mostly the blackface, which thankfully dropped off after Season One.) One thing that still holds up insanely well is Scott Thompson's Buddy Cole character. I feel like we need Buddy Cole now, more than ever, with the right wing fascist pushback on queer rights. The Buddy Cole monologues remain so boundary breaking and even radical in many ways here in 2022.
posted by SansPoint at 9:14 AM on May 14 [12 favorites]

I have to admit I haven't watched a whole lot of The Kids in the Hall, but all the drag was the main reason I stopped watching. It feels so lazy and misogynistic that they could write sketches about/including women, but couldn't, you know, hire any women.
posted by tangosnail at 9:32 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]

This makes me want to go back and rewatch. Thanks!
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 9:33 AM on May 14

tangosnail: One the budgets went up, they did start bringing in women into the sketches, but would still do drag as well. Honestly, the drag never bothered me, because it never felt like the joke in the sketch was that they were in drag. The only time that sticks out where it was the joke was the final A.T. & Love sketch, and it was done in a great way.

And, honestly, young Dave Foley looked damn good in drag. His drag roles in KITH kinda give me gender envy...
posted by SansPoint at 9:36 AM on May 14 [19 favorites]

Maybe I'll try again. It was so universally beloved...
posted by tangosnail at 9:39 AM on May 14

Never watched KITH back in the day, though some passing references to it showed up in my life. Friends did, though, and watching clips of the old show on YouTube has been a fascinating experience - an attempt to remember what I thought during life in the nineties, what people i know thought, what all us milleniolds thought.

Relatedly, Evan Kindley of the LARB and Pomona: “Just Kids: Growing Up With Kids In The Hall”

The new season on Prime is good, incidentally.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:44 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]

It's interesting to see how Bruce... who I think was always the weirdest KITH... is also probably the sweetest.

cannot for the life of me find the quote or properly remember the details but I swear I read an interview where Bruce said he never sat down to write a comedy sketch, instead he wrote... & I forget if he said "horror" or "tragedy" but you could make a case for either

(Bruce is my favorite)
posted by taquito sunrise at 9:56 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]

I'm overjoyed they didn't change the theme song! Love me some Shadowy Men. :)
posted by mon_petit_ordinateur at 10:43 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]

The new season on Prime is good, incidentally.

Three episodes in a row last night was all I could physically manage...from laughter-induced exhaustion.

It's really good. Buddy Cole makes an appearance in episode 2.

(Bruce is my favorite)

If you haven't heard it, Damian Abraham did a pretty good interview with him on his podcast a while back: TURNED OUT A PUNK: Episode 329 - Bruce McCulloch (Kids In The Hall, Tallboyz etc.)
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:56 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]

One of the things that I loved about the first (at least the first that I saw) Cabbage Head sketch that I saw--in the first HBO special that preceded their series--was how Bruce did this whole Buddy Hackett/Borscht Belt delivery of his lines; when his date says that she would only be sleeping with him out of pity if she did, he came back with, "Hey! I'm the king of the mercy fuck!" Or, when he's trying to manipulate her with pity: "My father the farmer got drunk, tried to harvest my head! [pause a couple of beats] Could be true."

Actually, come to think of it, Bruce is probably my favorite, too. He did "Daves I Know", a recurrent earworm, and on the show did Bobby, this moody teen character that was just great. (Also, WRT their playing women in drag, the show did have actresses in different parts; Bobby's girlfriend was played by Nicole de Boer, who went on to play Ezri Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.) Bobby sort of evolved into Grivo, one of the best evocations of Glenn Danzig's whole thing, in the Brain Candy movie.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:32 AM on May 14 [10 favorites]

I'm not absolutely convinced that Kids were always feminist. But, I'm a fan of both things and this is thoughtful and interesting. I also entirely missed the news of a revival.
posted by eotvos at 11:48 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


The absolute motionless deadpan that Dave Foley holds and holds and holds after that line before completely losing his shit is a masterpiece of comedic acting, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:53 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]

Loved, loved, loved Brain Candy. "We're only doning this because... we... love... you."

Delighted to see the Return Of The EEEEEEEEEEEEradica-torrr!

Pleased when Bellini disrobed, to reveal:
another towel

Greatly disappointed there was no Sir Simon and Hecubus.

Still 'shipping' Cabbage Head and Chicken Lady... from far far away.

Perhaps I'm the only one here who wished they had "shown [it] in front of a studio audience for live responses." Something about the audience losing it when the Kids unveiled something particularly absurd really enhanced their presentation for me.

I'm pinching your face.
posted by zaixfeep at 12:05 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Lots of equality.
posted by firstdaffodils at 12:15 PM on May 14

I had forgotten it, so I went and looked up the Buddy Cole segment on racism mentioned in the interview linked above, that the interviewer really wants to talk about. [Before you click, all applicable content warnings about racism and homophobia apply - hopefully you already figured that out.]

It is very sharp satire, and portions of it are wince-inducing. But I can definitely understand what Dave Foley means by saying we are living in a "context embargo." Watching the Buddy Cole segment from start to finish, it is 100% clear that Buddy is talking about how ridiculous racist stereotypes are, from the point of view of a gay person who faces his own stereotypes. When viewed in context, it is not punching down at minorities, but punching up at those who would employ such lazy stereotypes. Some of us on the left are definitely guilty of warning against anything that is potentially offensive even if that offense is used to make a higher point.

I'm reminded of Robert Downey Jr.'s blackface in Tropic Thunder, which is explicitly used to lampoon a Method actor who would be so dense as to believe that living in blackface is remotely ok. The joke is about white people, not black people. Overall, it seems like his performance has largely avoided criticism, but who knows.

What rewatching this segment also reminded me of is how much coiled anger rests beneath a Buddy Cole skit. I remember attending gay rights marches in the 90s, and being friends with people who hid their constant fury beneath a sheen of pleasant (even stereotypical) gay persona traits. Thompson brilliantly balances the trauma experienced by LGBT+ people with the (sometimes forced) jollity of someone just trying to make the best of it and be fabulous. I'm not sure I got all that in my 20s, but it jumps off the screen now.

I look forward to watching the new series.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:15 PM on May 14 [22 favorites]


One day left to win the opportunity to Paint Paul Bellini.

Just like the original 1990s contest, you have to call in.

Happy Bellini Day, everyone.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:19 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]

My wife and I both screamed when Paul Bellini appeared in the first episode of the new season. Happy Bellini day, indeed.
posted by Ber at 12:36 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]

I'm just here to say that Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet were great. They even sounded great in the toilets of the Bullring at U of Guelph.
posted by srboisvert at 1:55 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]

To be clear - I was the one in the toilets!
posted by srboisvert at 2:43 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]

I don't know if any of you remember that drink Clearly Canadian, that was popular for a little while in the 90s? Because Canada, my father, brother, and I associated it with this KITH sketch introducing the Spot Bellini Contest, and forever referred to it as "goose sweat." Yeah, it's good.
posted by biogeo at 2:53 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]

eotvos: I'm not absolutely convinced that Kids were always feminist

It’s hard to say one way or the other, but they definitely had an interest in the lived experience of women, which puts them miles ahead of almost any… I was going to say ‘all-male sketch comedy troupe’, but really, it puts them miles ahead of pretty much all male artists.
posted by Kattullus at 2:55 PM on May 14 [19 favorites]

Even for a native Southerner, KITH imprinted on me hard when they first aired. And honestly, I still think it's absolutely amazing I am now a citizen of their country. (Also: at least with KITH, you and your husband can share the same bits and gags.)
posted by Kitteh at 4:34 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]

> ust last night I watched this 10m interview with the group and I thought about posting it. Mostly I wanted to post it to get a survey on people's opinions of Dave Foley's hair, but I finally decided it must be a wig. Scott seems to be.. difficult.

I got the impression that Scott was upset about something specific that happened before the interview. Like, he was told not to say something he really wanted to say, perhaps? He made it clear at the end that he was very happy about the ongoing work with KITH.
posted by desuetude at 6:34 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]

Yeah, Scott seemed like he'd just had a conversation where a studio exec told him to lighten up on the gay agenda or something.
posted by Ickster at 7:13 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Brain Candy. This should have been the Monty Python And The Holy Grail of its generation, but try as hard as I and everyone I knew tried, it just could NOT gain any traction. But goddamn, it is a movie above nearly all other movies in its construction and execution. But it was so widely ignored.

If you haven't seen it, please do. See it twice. It's amazing. And hilarious. (Did I mention that it's funny? I thought that was a given. It's KITH!)
posted by hippybear at 7:24 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]

Brain candy is absolutely one of my favourite movies, and I was so tickled by all the brain candy references in the new season. which was fantastic!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:09 PM on May 14

has scott thompson become one of those humourless white gay men who is resentful that the culture has shifted to include other queer voices?
posted by PinkMoose at 9:06 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

There was definitely some mysterious subtext in that CBC interview. I don’t know enough to say whether Scott Thompson has become what PinkMoose described though. I did find the interviewer kind of clueless and pompous as CBC reporters often are and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Thompson has no patience for that anymore. He was really fixated on talking about the old Buddy Cole monologue and the “you couldn’t say those things today” aspect, despite it being a really tired cliche. “Oh you couldn’t make Blazing Saddles today,” and similar trains of thought are lazy and there’s really no “there” there. Satire and social commentary are moving targets. Sometimes the satire’s work is done and it isn’t relatable the same way anymore.

The thing is, if Thompson rewrote that bit today, he wouldn’t write it the same way, not because he couldn’t but because he’d be aware of how times have changed and language has changed with it. But EVERY SINGLE THING he says in that monologue is STILL, painfully, maddeningly, relevant today.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:26 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]

Here's an article from a few years ago in which Scott Thompson talks about it:

Scott Thompson goes toe-to-toe with political correctness … again

"One of my monologues is on toxic femininity. Everything now is about toxic masculinity, but I like to be ahead of the curve."
posted by clawsoon at 2:08 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

So does the time when Kids in the Hall showed up overlap at all with the time when Canadian and American attitudes about patriarchy started diverging?
posted by clawsoon at 2:09 PM on May 15

Interesting article. I wouldn't say that KITH *taught* me anything about feminism, but I felt like their brand of female characters seemed a lot more organic and a lot less problematic to high school/college me than Monty Python's, which I saw in reruns on our local PBS affiliate a few years previously.

I will say that I remembered that KITH was funny, but they were a LOT more edgy in their humor than I recalled when I started rewatching on IFC earlier this year. I mean, of course I remembered The Chicken Lady and a lot of other very iconic sketches, but there were lots of sketches that definitely earned the "things were different then" disclaimer that IFC runs before episodes.

When I saw Baroness Von Sketch's Aurora Browne on one of the new KITH episodes, it definitely felt like the Canadian sketch comedy universe was imploding. Or exploding. One of those.
posted by 41swans at 4:48 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]

there were lots of sketches that definitely earned the "things were different then" disclaimer
I still can't entirely decide whether to give them credit for dropping the Blackface blues character after the first or second season or to be annoyed that they had it in the first place. But, they did drop it pretty quickly. (And, I also don't really know what that meant to a white 25 year old in Toronto at the time. I didn't particularly notice it as a white 10 year old in the US. I also didn't realize how ugly my elementary school's thanksgiving activities were at the same time.) I like them so much that I want to believe they were actually ahead of the curve and trying. At least for white-comedians on international television.

That I've heard more than one of them describe how hard it was to find a crew willing to build a stage set making fun of bible stories suggests they were doing something novel in other ways than the ones already mentioned here. I'm excited for more.
posted by eotvos at 5:35 PM on May 15

Watching the Buddy Cole segment from start to finish, it is 100% clear that Buddy is talking about how ridiculous racist stereotypes are, from the point of view of a gay person who faces his own stereotypes. When viewed in context, it is not punching down at minorities, but punching up at those who would employ such lazy stereotypes.

I've loved this monologue for years and with all the ginned-up outrage against CRT, I've found it as relevant as ever, outdated verbiage and all. I've always wanted to lob "and whites once again have perfect wieners and buns!" into a conversation with relatives who decide I need to hear their views on race.

Seconding the love for Carpoolers, which I did watch during its initial run. See if you don't pick up some of Bruce's mannerisms in Jerry O'Connell's character.
posted by Recliner of Rage at 9:32 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]

I Liked the weirdness of the show, but how can you be feminist if you don't hire female actors? If they did, maybe it wouldn't have been as nichey, it was more Monty Python and less Second City, which is still funny 40 years later.
posted by greatalleycat at 6:20 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

I agree with the poster above that I never took issue with the drag because the joke was never "tee-hee-hee we're men in women's clothing" - they made lots of recurring female characters into actual, lived-in characters (Kathy and Cathy, etc). Whereas on Monty Python (who I also adore), when they dressed in drag the joke was 100% the fact that they were men wearing dresses and speaking in squeaky voices.

I also agree that Dave Foley looked amazing as a woman back in the day - whenever he played the Quebecoise sex worker Jocelyn I found myself wildly attracted to her (or him as her?). I'm a very straight cis woman otherwise, so as a teenager watching KITH this was... confusing.
posted by nayantara at 1:08 PM on May 17 [7 favorites]

I'm glad they called out the bikini dancers moment in Terriers. Along with the SNL "Schmitts Gay" ad, it was one of my favorite encapsulations of how much our culture took the commoditization of female bodies for granted. It's not easy making a feminist point and being funny simultaneously, especially when it's a lot easier being funny at feminists' expense.
posted by Mchelly at 1:10 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]

yeah, good fucking god, the kids in the hall did (do) the only non-misogynistic comedy drag I have ever seen, which is as much to say, the only non-misogynistic comedy drag there is. I understand that men playing women as human beings is very rare and everything, but the shock induced by seeing it can only excuse so much willful misinterpretation. nothing on earth could be less like monty python.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:55 PM on May 17 [10 favorites]

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