Surreal, often transgressional Sketch Comedy show in the vein of Saturday Night Live and Monty Python's Flying Circus, two shows to which it is often compared. The show was in fact initiated and produced by Saturday Night Live mastermind Lorne Michaels. The show is often credited with kick-starting the Alternative Comedy boom of the 90s.The five man roster consists of Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson. Sketches revolved around a number of disparate topics but were just as likely to focus on the cast portraying themselves, albeit in odd situations. Monologues were given frequently. Guest stars were uncommon on the show and celebrities rarer still. The consistency of the sketches were quite variable and there was often a feel of being "in" on a jam session of talented comics in the process of finding out what worked and what didn't. For some, this enhanced the appeal of the show.The hallmark of the series was that it was never afraid to go over the line when it came to people's comfort levels. The cast not only appeared in drag regularly, they often did so without any attempt to make the crossdressing the point of the skit. It was often bemoaned by Dave Foley that he looked so much better dressed as a woman... something that would form the basis of an episode of his later hit NewsRadio.The series did air in the United States but it may surprise some to know that, as shocking as the series may have been to many, it was still sometimes heavily edited for content, particularly for religious topics.The KITH band ended their show in 1995, and afterwards produced a feature film, Brain Candy, in 1996 to mixed reviews. The gang of five disbanded soon after, but recently regrouped to do several tours and, most recently, a miniseries ("Death Comes To Town"). The series remains a popular and memorable viewing experience in reruns.
This show provides examples of:
Affably Evil: The Axe Murderer. A pleasant smile and lovely manners even as he threatens to chop you up. See here, here and here for examples.
The Backstage Sketch - The show often did sketches where they played themselves, addressing their status as a comedy troupe with a TV show. For example in one sketch, Kevin in his Butt Monkey role frets that if his next contribution isn't good enough, the others will kick him out of the group.
Berserk Button - taken to an extreme in "Citizen Kane", in which a man's inability to remember the name of said movie (and refusal to accept his friend's suggestion of the title he was looking for) drives his friend into a homicidal rage.
Butt Monkey - This role was passed around by the five regular cast members depending on the sketch, but Kevin had it most often- notably in sketches 'behind the scenes' or when he addresses the audience as 'himself.'
That one's more of an inversion, due to the reaction of his partner who, after having had to deal with Foley ruining two previous jokes in similar ways, is bearing a very strained grin as he tries in vain to steer the skit back on course.
DVD Commentary - Some of the greatest ever. Highlights include an improv game during the closing credits of one "greatest hits" episode.
Egocentric Team Naming: in a sketch about the three-man garage band "Rod Torkelson's Armada Featuring Herman Menderchuk."
"El Niņo" Is Spanish for "The Niņo" - One sketch has Dave Foley as a stereotypical Frenchman talking about how beloved Kevin MacDonald is in France, where is is known as "Le Poopie," which is French for "The Poopie."
Evil Phone: Spoofed in one sketch. A guy refuses to answer the phone, reasoning it must be a wrong number. But as the phone keeps on ringing, it causes increasing hysteria in his friends. They convince themselves that something sinister about the call.
"Or it's a very wrong number. 42 rings? What kind of FREAK is sitting there by that phone?"
Fashion Hurts - A fashion designer from the first season revels in this trope.
Freudian Slippery Slope - One skit has a businessman asking his secretary to write a letter for him. He is unable to speak five words without mentioning breasts in some way, and eventually forms a sentence almost entirely out of words for breasts.
He can't dictate a letter to his next, male secretary without mentioning penises.
Gender Bender - Bend? They pretty much broke it. The troupe would play roles regardless of gender, orientation, fetish, or species. This would extend to vigorous simulated sex with each other, rarely seen in other shows before then. In fact, they would only have real women portray a big part if it was deemed the part needed a level of attractiveness/style they couldn't hope to pull off, which only happened a few times. At least until they got a bigger budget for the last few seasons.
Inspirationally Disadvantaged: the Oscar Bait sketch; 3 of the 4 actors nominated have some sort of handicap, including one with a railroad spike through his head. The fourth actor played Hamlet. It ends up being a three-way tie, with the Hamlet actor being left out.
Irony: Scott Thompson is quite openly gay but aside from Buddy Cole and appearances "as himself" in a few sketches he often portrayed straight characters while the other cast members took the "gay' roles.
Jail Bake: A skit made use of this trope, and adds dramatic tension with the guard asking if he can have a piece of cake, while the prisoner sweats, hoping the guard's knife doesn't touch the saw inside. Of course the tension is then taken to ridiculous heights with the guard eating most of the cake without finding the saw, leaving an obvious saw-shaped piece of the middle of the cake. The guard looks full and is about to give the cake to the prisoner, but then he decides to have one more piece... * clink* And then the kicker: the prisoner was getting out later that day and just wanted to make sure he wouldn't be late for an appointment, so he gets released while his friend gets locked up.
Jerkass With A Heart Of Gold: Dave Foley in the skit where he welcomes a new guy at his company by telling horrible lies about him to the boss. Every single one of those helps him to connect with the boss and other employees and be accepted as one of them, such as telling the boss that the new guy sacrifices people to Satan, the boss cheering that everyone at the company does that and inviting him to the weekend's ritualistic murder. At the end, he punches the new guy in the stomach... who doubles over in pain and finds a fifty dollar bill on the floor.
Jesus The Early Years: A skit showed examples of Jesus' carpentry work - it turns out he wasn't a particularly skilled one.
"Seven things on my list, seven things on my list..."
Magical Queer: Buddy Cole in some sketches, sometimes employing actual magic (or at least sparklers).
Man Child: Bruce tended to play these. His monologues tended to be grown men with overly naive and idealistic views and prone to flights of fancy. Notable examples are "If Elvis was my Landlord" and "Romeo and Juliet"
Mistaken for Profound: Mark, Bruce, and Dave are sitting on a roof. Mark and Bruce take turns saying some things about the moon, Mark says something about romance, and Bruce says something like an angry beatnik poem. But when it's Dave's turn, he doesn't know what to say and just blurts out, "Gee, I wonder who owns that moon". Bruce and Mark act as though it's deep. Dave just shrugs and the skit ends.
Naked People Are Funny: The heart of a few skits, like one where an employee at a meeting won't stop giggling while going over his report, leading to the revelation that he wrote the whole thing while naked, much to the disgust of everyone else there.
Real-Life Relative - Mark McKinney's brother Nick can be seen in a few sketches; The mothers of Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson appeared as themselves in an episode.
Real Song Theme Tune: "Having an Average Weekend," by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, who also contributed other music to the show.
Reality Subtext - While filming Kids In The Hall Brain Candy - a movie about a medical researcher who develops a pill that cures depression - Kevin McDonald, who played the researcher, was going through a divorce and suffering from severe depression. In an interview he stated that it was very hard for him to even get up and on the set in the mornings and at times the director would yell "cut" and he would walk off-set and start crying.
The Topic of Cancer: An early monologue by Bruce McCullough had him apologizing to everyone for "causing all of that cancer". He says he did it because he "didn't realize it was such a horrifying disease" and he was "just on a roll".
Zombie Apocalypse - Brilliantly deconstructed in a sketch parodying zombie horror films, with an apathetic couple being chased by two bored-looking zombies who are easily killed by the female's ever-respawning shoes. What makes this even funnier? This was before the big boom of Zombie Apocalypse media that would flood the market in the 2000's