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. Initiated and produced by SNL mastermind Lorne Michaels, the Kids in the Hall 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 (on HBO, naturally) 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 soon after that they regrouped to do several tours throughout The 2000s. In 2010, the troupe came together to produce a reunion miniseries, Death Comes to Town.
The original series remains a popular and memorable viewing experience in reruns. In March 2020, it was announced that Amazon would bring the series back for a new season consisting of eight episodes. Then the COVID-19 Pandemic happened. As a result, filming was delayed until May 2021, with production completed a few months later, and the new season being released on May 13, 2022.
Tropes in the Hall:
- Acquitted Too Late: A governor is calling a prison to order a stay of execution because of some new evidence, but he gets a wrong number. While the other man looks up the prison's phone number, the governor looks at the time and realizes it'd be too late now.
- Advanced Tech 2000: "Chalet 2000"
- 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.
- Affectionate Parody: The "M. Piedlourde" (Mr. Heavyfoot) sketches are an extended homage to Monsieur Hulot and his awkward, lurching gait (and possibly Mr. Creosote.)
- All Women Are Lustful: Chicken Lady, who's "gotta get laid! Gotta get laid!"
- Ambiguously Gay: Bellini, aka Towel Guy. (Paul Bellini is openly gay.)
- Anal Probing: One sketch hangs a lampshade on this trope, giving us the page quote on the trope page. The alien wonders if his Great Leader is just some kind of "ass freak". All they learn from the probing is one in ten males seem to enjoy it.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Weird foreign game show Feelyat! from Darill's home country.
- Ascended Fanboy: Scott Thompson was just a fan of the stage show, and started interacting with the group in such a funny way, they decided to make him a cast member.
- Asshole Victim: "The Real Buddy Holly", a drunken, racist, egotistical bastard who belittles everyone around him and decides to let a monkey fly his plane to Minnesota in an insane act of hubris.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: "Man of Destiny": a sketch so expertly crafted it could have its own list of tropes.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: A lot of straight male fans have commented on how pretty David Foley is when playing female characters. He often commented that everyone on the crew was suddenly nicer to him whenever he was in drag.
- Mark doesn't usually fall under this trope (his characters tend to look strange on purpose), but he's absolutely stunning in the "Hotel La Rut" sketches.
- Audience Participation: Occasionally. In one sketch, the show paid the Studio Audience members to chant "Screw you, taxpayer!" on camera (the show being produced by the publicly-owned CBC). Several times. While showing the increasing amount being spent each time.
- 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 correct title drives his friend into a homicidal rage.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: How Chicken Lady was conceived.Chicken Lady's Grandfather: (to son) What have you done? What have you done?
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: In one sketch, Dave is an executive who learns that one of his underlings (Scott) is a former porn star and is also massively hung. He immediately fires the man... and rehires him to lead the company's new adult film venture.
- Black Comedy: Occasionally, and extremely dark and bleak for its day when it did turn up.
- Black Comedy Rape: "What if... we rape Kevin?"
- Blackface: Two sketches in Season 1.
- "Kathie and the Blues Guy", from the first episode, introduces Bruce's Kathie and her blues-playing manchild boyfriend Mississippi Gary, who is played by Mark in mild blackface. Of course, the sketch steers clear of any actual race jokes.
- "Tony Comes to Dinner", in which Scott plays the titular boyfriend. The makeup is never played for comedy, but rather his very pretentious girlfriend assuming every welcoming gesture her parents make is bigoted.
- Blofeld Ploy: Parodied by the bank robber in "Things to Do"
- Bloody Hilarious: The "Shakespeare's Bust" scene in the 2022 series. Mark is a massive Shakespeare fan who relates everything in his life to the works of the Bard, and has a bust of Shakespeare in his living room. He even wishes Shakespeare were alive so that he could be his friend. Then a bolt of lightning causes the bust to come alive—but because it's a bust, it starts squirting gallons of blood from its arm sockets and guts fall out of the bottom of it. Eventually Mark manages to bind its wounds with copies of Shakespeare's plays, but the bust (Dave) turns into an aggressively obnoxious roommate that watches reality TV and tells Mark to f*** off.
- Body Horror: Parodied: in "The Beard", a vacation beard takes over a man's (Kevin's) life and then kills him... somehow. And then it moves onto its next victim.
- Bratty Food Demand: "Love and Sausages" features an old man, the father of the protagonist, who loudly demands sausages.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: A staple setup of several skits.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: From the "Sh*tty Soup" sketch: "What an awful waiter." "What an awful actor."
- Broken Heel: Parodied in the Zombie Apocalypse sketch to the point of Overly Long Gag
- 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.'
- Buried Alive: Over the credits of the original series finale, the Kids lie down in an open grave and peacefully accept their fate. In the revival series, the grave is dug up by a backhoe to reveal the troupe still alive almost thirty years later, and horrified at how old they've become after they wake up.
- Bystander Syndrome: In one episode, Bruce reads "an open letter to the guy who stole his bike wheel," then reads another open letter to the people who saw this happen on a busy street in broad daylight and didn't do anything about it.
- The Cameo: Lead singer Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes played the Rock and Roll Angel in the final episode, trying his hardest to inform Garage Band Rod Torfelson's Armada (featuring Herman Menderchuk) that they're never going to make it.
- Deconstructed with Chalet 2000's cameo, Rip Taylor, trading in the cheesiness of both the plot and the actor.
- Camp Gay: Buddy Cole. For example, when Buddy pinch hits for a batter on a lesbian softball team.Batter: But you're a man!
Buddy: (Aside Glance to camera) Labels.
- Camp Straight: Another of Scott's specialties, most notably recurring character Danny Husk.
- Canada, Eh?: Dear God.
- Canadian Series
- Cannot Convey Sarcasm: Inverted in a sketch where Dave's character has a Speech Impediment that makes everything he says sound sarcastic.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Green, the very Literal-Minded Straight Man of Vaudeville duo McGuillicutty and Green, really doesn't seem to understand what his job entails.McGuillicutty: [desperately trying to keep the energy going after two jokes have fallen on their asses] Say, Mister Green, I hear you manage a baseball team!Green: [genuinely puzzled] No. [pause] I'm a vaudevillian.McGuillicutty: No, I think you manage a baseball team!Green: ...Yes, of course, yes, I do manage a baseball team.McGuillicutty: Well, I hear the players nowadays have rather strange nicknames, rather silly pet names the players have nowadays.Green: Yes, that's true. Oh, as a matter of fact, I have the team roster right here. [takes it out of his pocket] Hm. For example, Who is on first base, What is on second, and Idontknow is on third base.McGuillicutty: Who's on First?Green: Yes.McGuillicutty: Who?Green: Yes, Who is the man on first base.McGuillicutty: [triumphantly] Why ya askin' me, I'm askin' you! What's the name of the guy on first base?Green: No no, What is on — oh, I see what your problem is! [Cue Oh, Crap! expression from McGuillicutty] You're confused by their names, because they all sound like questions. [smiles confidently]McGuillicutty: [desperately] I don't know! [whispers] Third base.Green: Well, I'll explain it to you. (McGuillicutty's head drops in shame) On first base is Hu. Samuel Hu. You're probably not used to that name, 'cause his grandfather was Chinese. On second base is Hector Watt, W-A-T-T, Watt [McGuillicutty does a Facepalm], and that's not such an unusual name 'cause James Watt invented the steam engine. And on third base is Phil Iduno, I-D-U-N-O, Iduno, but if you say that fast, it does sound like the phrase "gee, I don' know". But it's actually Idunno, Phil Idunno.
- Dean, the King of Empty Promises: "Must've... slipped my mind." "Will do."
- Dave and Kevin's "Nobody likes us" sad sack duo.
- MC Simon Milligan's proclamations of "EVIL!"
- The Flying Pig's "What a lineup!"
- Claiming Via Flag: Dave Foley explains how sketch comedy works by first establishing a wacky comic premise: A man awakes to find a Spanish conquistador planting a flag on his chest and claiming it for Spain. (Dave escalates the premise by having a different explorer plant a French flag on him and declaring war.)
- Mr. Vallane and his consulting firm, Creative Possibilities, are a notable example — especially since he deliberately invokes the trope at every opportunity. As he never tires of reminding you, he has an office in a submarine!
- For as much as they claim to be "reporters" with the inside scoop on Hollywood, Weston Esterhazy and his friend Virgil are just a pair of celebrity-fixated oddballs who make up whatever they want and repeat it as if it's guarded knowledge; among other things, Weston has claimed that Robert Vaughn died in the late 70's and a hand puppet was hosting Discover in his place, that Dick Sargent was turned into a fish for the Bewitched finale but never got changed back, and that Pluto the dog went on a nymphomaniac spree after being "redrawn" for Who Framed Roger Rabbit before he finally settled down into a relationship with Benji. When Virgil realizes that the latter can't be true because Pluto isn't real, Weston shrugs and admits he's probably right.
- Contemplating Your Hands: The stoned shoeshine boy.
- Contract on the Hitman: Parodied in a sketch, where a hitman is contracted to take himself out."Can you do it?"
"...I'm gonna need a lot of money."
- Crosscast Role: 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.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: The Flying Pig sketches, in which the titular flying pig comes to entertain people stuck in a line.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Mark as the Chicken Lady in the "Chicken Lady Homecoming" sketch:Mark: The memories, eh? They float in like... like memories!
- Discriminate and Switch
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Tammy's music video
- Don't Explain the Joke: Exaggerated. Dave ruins a vaudeville performance of "Who's on First?" by figuring out the miscommunication and laboriously explaining it to his partner. 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.
- Dreadful Musician: One opening scene has Dave and Kevin doing a lounge act. They have no musical talent whatsoever.
- Dream Within a Dream: The pear dream.
- DVD Commentary: Some of the greatest ever. Highlights include an improv game during the closing credits of one "greatest hits" episode.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The original pilot and first season clearly had a lower budget and production values compared to subsequent seasons.
- Egocentric Team Naming: The three-man garage band Armada renames themselves "Rod Torkelson's Armada Featuring Herman Menderchuk". Kevin's Extreme Doormat lead singer/songwriter/guy whose family garage they all practice in isn't even Rod or Herman.
- ...and is paying for everything, but owes his bandmates for that privilege.
- "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño": One sketch has Dave Foley as a stereotypical Frenchman talking about how beloved Kevin MacDonald is in France, where he is known as "Le Poopie," which is French for "The Poopie."
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: A Parody of the Living Dead Series: Dave and Mark as a couple running away from Kevin and Scott's Incongruously Dressed Zombies (a butcher and a crossing guard respectively) and whimpering pitifully. Dave as the woman keeps breaking her heels and throwing both her shoes away every time the scene changes, while the zombies scat the lugubrious, unfrightening Source Music. Mark tries to fend them off with the furniture in an abandoned shack (a chair and a flimsy floor lamp which the zombies just walk around and flick over), then Mark "kills" them by halfheartedly throwing another pair of Dave's shoes at their foreheads until they twirl around and lie down on the floor.
- 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.Kevin: Or it's a very wrong number. 42 rings? What kind of FREAK is sitting there by that phone?
- They're right to be afraid. It's the Sizzler Sisters calling.
- Executive Excess: One sketch features a board meeting amongst several heads of different companies. When the meeting begins, an employee shouts "But first, the whores!" which causes scantily-clad women, mood lighting, and music to emerge. The CEO of the main company shouts that this is not how he runs his company.CEO: We have the meeting first, and then the whores!
- Fashion Hurts: A fashion designer from the first season revels in this trope.
- Fat and Proud: One sketch had Bruce and Mark playing a pair of rednecks with massive beer bellies, and proud of them.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Salty ham. Scott and Bruce as a recurring housewife and working husband have a massive blowout fight after the latter comes home after a long day's work to "VOODOO PORK!"
- Film Noir: "Man of Destiny", which also features a Sexophone at one point.
- Flamboyant Gay: Buddy Cole, played by Scott Thompson, who's openly gay in real life. The troupe often dealt humorously with the topic of homosexuality in a variety of ways.
- Fourth Wall Shut-In Story: A comedy writer is called on the carpet by his boss, who criticizes the hackneyed quality of his work, including the very sketch they're both in. After a few lame jokes, the two fall silent and they realize that the writer forgot to come up with an ending. In a later scene, we see them, possibly days later, still unable to end the sketch. It's not looking good...
- Freudian Slippery Slope: One skit has a businessman asking his shapely 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. And then he can't dictate a letter to his next, similarly well-endowed male secretary without mentioning penises.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": The final episode has the crew getting buried alive... and Paul Bellini dancing on their grave.
- Gayborhood: The "Steps" sketches are set in the real-life Toronto neighborhood of Church and Wellesley, and mostly take place on the titular steps — a former gay hangout and cruising spot — where liberal, socially conscious Smitty (Kevin) tries to get ultra-promiscuous stud Butch (Scott) and ditzy twink Riley (Dave) more interested in activist causes.
- Half-Human Hybrid: The Chicken Lady, a woman with feathers and a beak-like nose, who clucks, squawks, and lays real eggs. She's intensely horny and most of her sketches end with a man screaming and running away. She's apparently the offspring of a farmer's son and one the family's chickens.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Daddy Drank. According to the Audio Commentary, the drinking dad was based on Kevin's actual father — some lines were real (others were made up). Call it catharsis. It eventually led to Kevin being stalked for a while in real life.
- Hired for Their Looks: A sketch had Dave as a business man unable to fire a French pyromaniac named Monique because she's beautiful, even as she's igniting things in his office.
- Historical In-Joke: Nietzsche referred to the philosophers of his time as "cabbage heads."
- Hunter Trapper: Parodied, on dry land with businessmen's expensive suits as the goal rather than animal skins.
- Hyde Plays Jekyll
- I'm a Humanitarian: "I am not... an experienced cannibal!"
- Imagine Spot: The "Disgruntled Customer" sketch features Dave as a waiter who has no lines, but stands on the other side of the room sniggering at the aforementioned customer. We see, through the magic of editing, that he's imagining the annoying customer wearing various ridiculous costumes, such as a French-maid outfit or a high school marching-band uniform.
- "Billy Dreamer" features Billy encountering setbacks and daydreaming improvements to his life, none of which involve his setbacks.
- Insane Troll Logic: In one sketch, a guy has an argument with his wife and she locks him out of the house and refuses to let him back in. He wins the argument by declaring that from now on the inside of the house is the outside and the outside of the house is the inside, which makes her the one who's locked out. She protests, but he says that the house is in his name so he can do whatever he wants. So she actually goes along with this and starts demanding that he let her in.
- 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 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.
- It's All My Fault: In the final episode, Cathy immediately assumes A.T. & Love is closing because she didn't work hard enough. Keep in mind, she's just part of the secretary pool.
- 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's friend 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.
- Jerk 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 50 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.
- Language Fluency Denial: A second season sketch has Scott trying to get directions from Dave, who tells him in increasingly convoluted sentences (in English) that he can't help him since unfortunately he doesn't speak a word of English.
- Leatherman: "Meet Your New Male Slave", a 1950's educational filmstrip in which Buddy Cole learns about the care and feeding of his new dog-like, mustachioed leather sub (played by Kevin).
- Little Known Facts: The "It's a Fact" girl.Girl: Wanna hear something?" (runs up to the camera in Overcrank) If you don't clean your ears properly, you pay for it later. (cut to a little boy with branches growing out of his ears)
- Littlest Cancer Patient: "Hi, Doctor. I'm... Cancer Boy."
- Madness Mantra:
- "Whole lotta milka..."
- The Super OCD gentleman rushing around crossing off items on his daily to-do list. "Seven things on my list, seven things on my list... Gotta keep on top of my life, gotta keep on top of my life... [...] Okay, you're being held hostage, add it to the schedule..."
- The senile father in the sausage factory faux-arthouse film: "Sausages! ...Sausages! Sausages! Sausages!"
- "MY PEN!"
- Madness Shared by Two: The Sizzler Sisters, Jerry and Jerry, believe they're two female lounge singing sisters. They're actually two men who escaped from a mental hospital together, neither one named Jerry and not actually related to each other. The fact that they're obviously two men in hospital-issue pajamas wearing lipstick and wigs makes this readily apparent... except to the Super Gullible lounge audience who keep missing the emcee's hints that this isn't All Part of the Show.
- Magical Queer:
- Buddy Cole in some sketches, sometimes employing actual magic (or at least sparklers).
- "Running Faggot", a Captain Obvious folk hero who runs around the wilderness giving troubled people very basic advice such as "feed your puppy or it'll starve", or "try to talk with people if you don't know why they're angry with you". Absolutely nothing about him indicates his sexuality, except that people keep calling him "Faggot" and he's occasionally the target of attempted homophobic violence.
- Parodied with a vigilante homosexual rescuing gays from attackers, and with Scott as an angel who gives men blowjobs if their wives won't — the latter is parodied as it's just a guy posing as an angel so he can give guys blowjobs.
- Make an Example of Them: Overlapping with You Have Outlived Your Usefulness in the "Seven Things to Do" sketch: Dave's bank robber keeps killing his own men to show the people he's robbing/holding hostage "This is what's going to happen to you" if they don't do as he says. Backfires when he shoots his own driver and ploughs into the side of the road.
- Manchild: 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".
- Meaningful Name: Habitual tea-drinker Mr. Tisane (tisane being any brewed hot infusion or herbal tea made without any actual tea).
- Minion with an F in Evil: Manservant Hecubus. But it's okay, his master Sir Simon Milligan somehow manages to fail even worse at being evil.
- Mistaken for Profound: Mark, Bruce, and Dave are sitting on a roof passing around a bottle of booze. 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!" then hangs his head and passes back the bottle. Bruce and Mark act as though it's deep. Dave just shrugs and the skit ends.
- Modesty Towel: Writing staffer Paul Bellini often appeared in one as a Running Gag.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: Jerry and Jerry Sizzler are two lounge singers, not clearly insane people! The Sizzler Sisters, played by Kevin and Dave, are two men in (men's) pajamas wearing ill-fitting wigs with the tags hanging off, with a news report of escaped mental patients playing at the beginning of their sketches.
- The Movie: Brain Candy
- Mundane Made Awesome: One of Dave's monologues: "For I... have a Good Attitude.... towards MENSTRUATION!"Dave: That's why the woman I shall love will be able to menstruate as fully and freely as she desires. Even if her monthly flow should build in intensity to a raging rust-colored torrent! An unbridled river of life-giving blood flowing from between her legs, an awesome cataract plunging off the edge of our couch, I wouldn't be fazed! No, no, even if coureurs des bois would come upstream, battling the rapids, and singing a jaunty song, I would take no offense! Rather I would ford across that mighty womanly river, and fetch herbal tea and Pamprin. And then I would mop her brow and admire her fecundity.
- 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.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The French-Canadian voyageurs in the "Trappers" sketch "must take care not to deplete the stock" (of businessmen in expensive suits) after what happened with the beavers. "WHERE WERE OUR HEADS?!"
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: The Chicken Lady, (natural) omelet-producing skills and all.Chicken Lady: Oh, I made you an omelet on account of I figured you might not like bugs.
Date: Oh, thank you.
Chicken Lady: Go ahead. Tuck in.
Dave: Oh, good.
Chicken Lady: 'Course it's good, 'cause they're fresh. Straight out of my body and onto your plate!
- No Party Like a Donner Party: Lampshaded in one sketch where Dave is on trial for eating 112 of his fellow passengers after getting stranded on a plane. He tries to convince the judge that he was starving and desperate to survive, but it turns out the situation was not as dire as he claimed.Judge: We're not talking about a plane crash in the Andes here, sir. You never got off the runway. We are talking about a delay! You are the sole survivor of a 35-minute delay!
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: Discussed in a segment where Kevin is talking about his admiration of Bruce's bass player character while simultaneously acknowledging their lack of respect.
- Odd Friendship: Chicken Lady (Mark) and The Bearded Lady (Kevin). They met at the freakshow.
- One Steve Limit: Consciously averted with Cathy & Kathy, the Geralds, the "Thirty Helens Agree" inserts, and all the various Daves Bruce knew. Several names also get reused in different sketches throughout the show (Tony, Barry, Sandra).
- Oscar Bait:
- The sketch "Academy Awards", where three out of the four Best Actor nominees are playing Inspirationally Disadvantaged characters (a deaf activist, a paraplegic activist, and a guy with a railroad spike in his head) in terrible inspired-by-true-events dramas, while the fourth, a classically trained, knighted thespian, is up for the lead in a film adaptation of Hamlet. The preview clips play each of the three's schmaltzy, clichéd speeches for tolerance in their entirety, while the fourth gets only about five seconds of the Yorick monologue, to his bafflement. He loses to a three-way tie.
- Parodied when the guys from "Steps" go to see Intimate Circumstances, supposedly a romantic drama about a husband leaving his wife for his new neighbor and a landmark for gay rights in Hollywood; it features a lot of longing, smoldering glances and hand-holding from the male leads (who never even take off their coats, while the lead actress goes topless eight times), and ends with a garage door obscuring their one kiss. Smitty thinks it's disgraceful queerbait, Riley is disappointed that Andrew Baldwin never showed his chest, and Butch hooks up in the theater.
- Overly Long Gag:
- "I can't stop thinking about Tony, where he is, what he's thinking, whether or not he's thinking about me..."
- "I never saw The Fly" "How could you NOT SEE THE FLY?!"
- Perspective Magic: The Head Crusher, played by Mark, is a Funny Foreigner who tours the city finding places to squish distant passersby's heads between his thumb and forefinger. "I'm crushing your head! Crush! Crush!"
- Phrase Catcher: Tanya the temp secretary.Cathy, Kathie: Temp. Slut. Temp slut!
- Platonic Prostitution: Parodied in "Lady is a Tramp"; Dave's Ronald Colman-esque romantic type, not realizing that the woman played by Scott is a prostitute, tries to be a gentleman and escort her "home" from the waterfront, then courts, marries, has children, and grows old with her over the span of 50 years. She never once thinks of anything but business and constantly calls him a "freak", and her extremely elderly pimp tries to stab the guy over the eight million dollars he now owes them. He never quite catches on.
- Poke the Poodle: Sir Simon Milligan and Manservant Hecubus of the Pit of Ultimate Darkness try to be evil but mostly screw up, to the point where they're delighted by the childish acts of naughtiness they actually do manage to pull off.
- Postmodernism: The "Raise" sketch is pure, undiluted postmodernism at its best.
- Political Overcorrectness: The "Art Studio" sketch runs on this. It starts with the students getting angry that the model is a woman (thus exploited by the "patriarchy") and white (not being diverse enough). The teacher trying to reason with them only makes them angrier.
- The Power of Rock: Dreadful Musician Bobby (somehow) defeats Satan with his guitar — Three Chords and the Truth played very slowly and awkwardly.
- Private Eye Monologue: The "Man of Destiny" narrates his date with destiny (kicked off by the realization that he has to kill the president), but keeps getting sidetracked.Man: (jumps on a man's back and wrestles him to the ground — narrating) Peter had some nerve to show himself in this town! Why, my poor sister still cries himself to sleep. (as they're being pulled apart) Having made my point, I was willing to concede that I too had made a mistake. But in fairness to me — he sure looked like Peter...
- Pronouncing My Name for You: Darill, a preppy intellectual. It's not Darrell, it's "Ah! Dah-rill!"
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Having an Average Weekend", by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, who also contributed other music to the show.
- Reminiscing About Your Victims: Played for laughs, naturally, in a scene where a bunch of buddies recall a dead friend... who they murdered. "To Reg!"Scott: It kinda makes you think about the fragility of life.
Mark: Not really. Remember how he fought back?
Scott: What a death grip! Almost broke my wrists!
- Rewatch Bonus: In "This Scene Was Written in Haste", the father puts Tabasco (sauce) in his pipe, instead of tobacco, exactly the kind of error you'd expect the writer to make once you've already seen the sketch.
- Right on Queue: The Flying Pig's reason for being to entertain people in long lines with his wholesome airborne antics... until he gets sick and dies in the middle of the street. Enter Son of Flying Pig!
- Rockers Smash Guitars: Dave after failing to prove folk was better than rock.
- Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Recurring character Satan once had a "Devil Went Down to Georgia"-style rock battle with a kid in a garage band.
- Running Gag: So many. The show even ended its run on one: staff writer Paul Bellini (the guy in the Modesty Towel) literally dancing on the show's grave.
- Sapient Fur Trade: Except instead of fur it's businessmen being hunted for their fine tailored suits.
- Sarcasm Mode: One sketch revolves around a man who is permanently stuck in Sarcasm Mode.Dave: Oh, (singsong) I'm not being sarcastic! This is a Speech Impediment. It's made things veeeery hard for me. [...] Wait! Don't go! I reaaaaally want to be your friend!
- Self-Deprecation: Member Scott Thompson has been openly gay for decades, but he still wrote and performed a lot of jokes that mercilessly ridicule gay culture — but from In-Joke issues that only gays would really chuckle at.Scott: (in drag, not swinging at a softball strike) It had attitude.
- In the 2022 Amazon series, the team only get their show renewed because a VHS copy of Brain Candy sells for a single dollar at a yard sale, meaning it finally broke even. As a result, they get exhumed from their collective grave.Dave: Am I still the "cute one"?The Others: [Non-committal noises]
- In the 2022 Amazon series, the team only get their show renewed because a VHS copy of Brain Candy sells for a single dollar at a yard sale, meaning it finally broke even. As a result, they get exhumed from their collective grave.
- Serious Business: The game of squash to The Eradicator. "Eeeeraddicatorrrr!" He loses only a few games up the tournament ladder.
- Sketch Comedy
- Stalker with a Crush: Kevin had his own in real life — and she went so far as to send him a cassette full of stalker songs, most notably "Every Breath You Take" by The Police.
- Studio Audience: Many but not all of the sketches are performed live in the studio, sometimes with Audience Participation.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "These Are The Daves I Know":Bruce: Dave Jadisky, man this cat can swing
He weighs almost fifty pounds and he delivers my paper on time [...]
Some of them are Davids...
Daves: But most of us are Daves!
Bruce: They all have their own hands
But they come from different mums
- Suicide as Comedy:
- A hit man hired to kill himself.
- Bruce attempts suicide, but everyone just skimmed his long and complicated suicide note. "It was just so long!"
- Surreal Humor: The furthest they seem to have gone in this direction is "Aroomba", a deliberately nonsensical sketch produced as filler because the CBC wouldn't air "Dr. Seuss Bible". It includes, among other things, a waiter being amazed at all the money he keeps finding on tables and a doctor trying to diagnose his patient by cutting a steak, and abruptly ends with Kevin McDonald entering wearing Canadian flag underwear and singing while Scott carries a prop wall with a shower head attached behind him.
- Tap on the Head: Deconstructed and parodied in the sketch "Hillbilly's Problem". A farmer gets his head kicked in by a cow while reaching for a penny, affecting his depth perception and leaving him mildly brain-damaged. His sons, seeing it as like a case of Easy Amnesia, attempt to replicate the accident to bring him back to normal. The blow just kills him instead, and they bury him in a shallow grave."I don't know what went wrong... always seemed t' work on The Flintstones."
- Those Two Guys: Mark and Bruce as two recurring Ontario Provincial Police officers who always seem to notice everything at the crime scene except the crime.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The censored "Hitler [Blanks] a Donkey".Farmer: That's not just a bad man. That's Hitler, and he's (bleep)ing your pet donkey.
- Too Dumb to Live: Dave plays a none-too-bright professional killer who is hired to assassinate... himself. He takes the job, but only on condition that he be paid in advance. He then has a life-or-death struggle with himself, flinging the gun out of his own hand and bashing his own face against the floor, then runs out of ammo, then pistol-whips himself, knocking himself out of an upstairs window and landing at the feet of the mob boss who hired him in the first place. The boss loses his temper with Dave and proceeds to kick the crap out of him, only to be spotted by a bystander who alerts the police, who arrest the mob boss for murder.
- The Topic of Cancer: An early monologue by Bruce McCulloch 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".
- Trademark Favorite Food: SAUSAGES!
- Transparent Closet: Apparently, after Buddy bought a gay bar, he couldn't claim he was straight anymore.
- The Trope Kid: "The Toronto Kid"
- Umbrella Drink: The Girl Drink Drunk.
- Video Inside, Film Outside: A rare North American example.
- Vomiting Cop: Parodied in one sketch, as the cop vomits over not only a dead body, but mundane things at the same scene like an expired parking meter.
- Wham Line: In the final episode, Dave's Bad Boss Mr. Love to the female employees of AT & Love: "Oh, I almost forgot. We will be requiring that you turn in your security passes, your coffee mugs — oh, and your wigs!"
- Who's on First?: Vaudevillian Mr. McGuillicutty attempts this, but his Straight Man Mr. Green is too straight and ends up explaining the joke into the ground.
- Wimp Fight: Dr. Cooper and Don Roritor's fight in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy. Corrinda Gablechuck and Heather Weather's "bar brawl" in Death Comes to Town also qualifies. The zombies and the young couple they're pursuing in the zombies sketch, too.
- 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 Dave's Neutral Female's ever-respawning shoes. What makes this even funnier? This was before the big boom of Zombie Apocalypse media that flooded the market in the 2000s.