March 14, 2009

Crushing Cabbage Heads: Kids in the Hall Season 3

(Updated December 18, 2020)

In many ways, Season 3 of Kids in the Hall is their best season - not because by now, they had mastered the art of television comedy. What makes it work is that, in many ways, the Kids seem to hit their stride, making the act of writing cutting edge, funny sketch comedy look easy.

In many ways, this is where the Kids begin to gain some level of pop culture radar, with many "guest appearances", some Canadian-level hip; others being amazingly prescient. In fact, you could say that the Kids' younger brothers arrived under their tutelage - the Vacant Lot (which included Mark McKinney's younger brother Nick) made frequent appearances in the background (and took on secondary roles in some sketches). Although this resulted in an all-too-brief series of their own, this did show that the Kids were beginning to get some sense of their own power.

Perhaps it was that the CBC was lessening its censorship of the show (or that they knew they were leaving HBO), but there's a casual sense of fun and freedom about this season. Granted, some characters are 'retired' (Cabbage Head gets referred two but never performed in two sketches; in another, the Headcrusher becomes the Resumeupdater - perhaps causing Lorne Michaels some consternation), but this is a season where the Kids seemingly come into their own. It's as if, to use a then-current metaphor, they were the Nirvana of sketch comedy - thrust headlong into notoriety, and the only thing they could do was make jokes about it. And the culture around them.

Or, I could just be full of myself.

But this season does contain one of my favorite sketches, set in a pizzeria. Not just because it contains a very young Neve Campbell, but the subtext - about grown men and inappropriate behavior towards younger women - is just plain funny. I never laugh as hard as when I hear Kevin say, "Actually, in some cultures..."

...or when Mark casually states, "Call me uncle pizza man."

It's that kind of casual attitude of making fun of taboo and undisclosed impulses that make the Kids' humor work. And season three is a clear example.

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