Don’t call it a comeback. The Kids in the Hall have been here for years. Just not onstage. All together. In almost six years.
But tanned, “Rusty & Ready,” they blazed a new trail through Texas over the weekend, ready to be our comedy brides once more (their opening number is Men Wearing Wedding Dresses). Their mini-tour kicked off Friday with the first of two nights in Austin for the capital city’s Moontower Comedy Festival, followed by a performance last night in Dallas. They’ll head north with multiple shows over multiple weekends in June — it’s “83 percent new!” Dave Foley boasts — with brand-new sketches combined with inspired takes on old favorite characters from their TV series, which aired two decades ago on HBO and CBS.
The Kids in the Hall “Rusted & Ready” tour already is selling tickets for June 6, with a second show added today for that same night at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre. They’ll hit up Royal Oak’s Music Theatre in Michigan the following Saturday. Other cities expected to see KITH near them include Washington, D.C. (June 7), Philadelphia (June 8), and Chicago (June 13). All KITH shows sold through AEG Live/Ticketmaster.
But enough about the whens and the wheres, what about the what nows?!
If anyone is unsure what to expect when Monty Python regroups for a limited-time onstage offering this July, then the KITH reunion — the first new touring stage production since 2008 from Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson — is loosey goosey.
That could just be a perception from seeing their first two shows in Austin, which went on with only minimal rehearsals beforehand. Such is life when the five guys have busy schedules, that this photo McKinney posted Friday afternoon shows the quintet running lines also showed one of the first times they had a chance to do so all five them in the same room!
But it’s that looseness that inspires moments of comedic greatness that makes each live show special for each audience.
During a Hockey Night in Canada sketch, Thompson’s wig flew off accidentally while in bed with McCulloch’s character, prompting the latter to utter: “Do we have any reviewers in Austin?” Thompson, not missing a beat, plunged forward into McCulloch: “No wonder I couldn’t find it!”
The action is madcap; the punchlines and ad-libs furious. Part of their endearment to audiences two decades ago was their ability to mix sincerity with the sincerely silly on TV, often playing themselves between sketches to break the sketches and the fourth wall with us in the audience. That remains a great pull for them now, no matter how loosely prepared they may seem to be onstage. In fact, that only provides more chances for them to charm us.
When Thompson cracked up and couldn’t hold it together during their “Foodie” sketch on Friday, the other four men lobbed line after line around and at him, gleefully. “This all could have been prevented with a nap,” McKinney zinged.
In an updated and expanded take on their classic “cause of cancer” bit from TV, they apologize for a host of other maladies, too. Such as AIDS. To which one says to Thompson: “In all fairness, I thought you were going to die from AIDS.” And divorce. Which allows four to turn on one, wondering how McCulloch could turn out to be the most happily married member of KITH 30 years later.
Most fans attending the KITH reunion this spring are just overjoyed to see the fellas, now pushing 50, in person.
After their “men in wedding dresses” cold open monologue, McDonald did the quickest of quick-changes to re-emerge after a “Hello and welcome to The Kids In The Hall type thing!” to explain the show and sing a historical ode to his comedy partners. “We apologize to most of you who were dragged here by your 41-year-old boyfriend, who grew up watching us while he was high,” he quipped (you can get lost amid 376 some odd clips of KITH available currently on Hulu trying to catch up, or waxing nostalgic).
The lineup for the first night Friday:
- Men in Wedding Dresses (all)
- Kevin’s welcome/explanation and history of KITH in song
- A double date between two longtime married couples seeing Brokeback Mountain and getting drinks afterward (all)
- Confessions of a bank teller (Bruce)
- Scott and Mark poke fun at “yes, and” to have a conversation
- The Two Geralds (Bruce and Mark) negotiate an affair
- The Pit of Ultimate Darkness, with Sir Simon Milligan (Kevin) and Hecubus (Dave)
- Hockey Night in Canada comes with a sexual prize for Fran and Gordon (Scott and Bruce), married 40 years
- The Cause of Cancer, updated and expanded
- Foodie, in which a customer at a fancy restaurant poses a threat by calling an exotic tart a pie and saying she’ll Tweet a picture of the tart calling it a pie (all)
- Gavin (Bruce) shows up for an AIDS test enticed by a free donut offer. Older now, the others wonder: “Is that a kid or a middle-aged lesbian?”
- Chicken Lady (Mark) welcomes a blind date (Dave) via personals ad
- Buddy Cole (Scott) goes off on a rant about bullying and kids these days. “In my day, self-esteem was something you achieved in spite of your childhood.”
- Surprise Party planning in the office (all), courtesy of Nina at Joymakers (Mark)
Saturday’s show included an encore of “Running Faggott,” with Bruce and Mark singing once more about the legendary Native American folk hero (Scott), now with new frenemies. Scott welcomed a cowpoke (Dave) with the ad-libbed line, “What seems to be the trouble, Mr. Bundy?” Dave’s reply: “Job well done, Captain Topical!”
Step back in time to see an early TV sketch with The Two Geralds, followed by a brief interview with Chris Hardwick from a year ago this week in which McCulloch and McKinney wonder if they even could have been successful if they’d started today instead of 30 years ago.
Similarly, you can watch more classic Kids In The Hall sketches with more recent interviews on Nerdist’s YouTube channel (start bawking your way with this Chicken Lady origin story and video).
Jim Millan, who has directed the KITH stage shows on tour over the past decade, spoke with TheatreJones over the weekend and described their process, in part: “They’re brave enough to write right up to the last minute,” assured Millan. “They’re brave enough to trust in the structure and play it out. And then there’s that little room for madness when they’re on stage. One of them might get up in another’s face like they’ve never done before and it’s like ‘OK, game, on!’ And that’s so exciting. The audience senses it, too. They sense that this is a live sport. They have a great love and freedom for each other, and they also know that if something goes off the rails, or goes a little different, or somebody adds something, there might be an opportunity to find the genius of it.”
(photo from Dallas show, April 27, 2014, by Michael Howard (@HowieDallas49)