The Kids in the Hall Season 6 Is Still Kids in the Hall, But They’re Older Now

The Kids in the Hall stand in a row on a white background with Prime Video The Kids in the Hall May 13 written to the right

After 27 years, The Kids in the Hall has finally returned for Season 6. That’s what I’ve decided to call it by the way. I suppose you could call it a reboot if you like, or The Kids in the Hall (2022) Season 1, but that’s just terribly clunky looking and I don’t care for it. Season 6 it is!

If you want to know how new Kids in the Hall lands in 2022, I do too, so you may need to seek out another source. I’m immensely curious about what the youth of today discovering the troupe for the first time might make of them, what kind of kneejerk reactions they might have, and so on—I even asked a young person, but he’d never seen the original series so he couldn’t tell me what he thought of it.

This wasn’t exactly a rigorous inquiry.

Regardless, personally, the answer is the same as it ever was. The Kids in the Hall are genius and edgy, with a style of humor that may be rivaled but which has never been mimicked. Because it couldn’t be mimicked, at least not in a way that would function. No, the Kids in the Hall are necessarily Mark, Scott, Dave, Bruce, and Kevin, and the magic that springs forth through their interrelation.

The Kids in the Hall stand in a row on a white background with Prime Video The Kids in the Hall May 13 written to the right

I find myself pondering the politics of the comedy these five create, as it’s never been expressly “political,” if by the term one means to bring to mind the current affairs of government and politicians. This isn’t SNL lampooning the President; it’s the politics of everyday life that are constantly at play in Kids in the Hall and the way it’s shot through with absurdity.

In the documentary releasing on Amazon Prime on May 20, in conjunction with the new season of sketch comedy released on May 13, there is a suggested alignment with the ethos of punk. It’s even in the title of the documentary (The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks). Insofar as the Kids have always had an anarchic sensibility to them, this strikes me as perfectly fair, but in another way, I think it misses the mark. They’re quintessentially of the late 1980s and early 1990s—not punk but not grunge either—embodying the spirit of what was at the time labeled “Alternative,” at least until the alternative became the mainstream and that contradiction made words meaningless.

For a brief moment though, there was a real celebration of alterity in the 1990s. As a teenager at the time, the politics of everyday life were cut through with questions of authenticity. The biggest insults were being a poser and being a sell-out. How fraught this would sometimes get is probably a good example of the difficulties that arise from trying to hold up genuine difference as a standard of assessment.

But the Kids in the Hall were always that—different, novel…queer in the deepest, broadest, and oldest sense of the term (and not just because Scott Thompson was openly gay). The freedom of expression in their comedy is perhaps more political than “politics” insofar as it cuts to the freedom to be who one is—in all of its oddity—and to have fun doing it. No one is normal, so perhaps we should all stop trying to be.

The Kids in the Hall lie in a row in an open grave
Courtesy of Amazon Prime

I discovered The Kids in the Hall as a child flipping channels while living in the Detroit metro area, around 1990. I want to say it was on CBC, as I definitely watched things on CBC (being close enough to Windsor, Ontario), but it could have been during one of those stints where we had cable and so I saw the show on HBO. I was maybe 10 years old, so I don’t remember with any certainty, and the fact that I was unsupervised enough that I could just randomly start watching this show late at night by myself probably relates to how it immediately spoke to me.

The Kids in the Hall is for outsiders, but we are legion, and as it had its big moment (which perhaps didn’t come until it aired in reruns constantly on Comedy Central in the mid-90s), so did we all. There was a feeling that the stodgy norms of society were actually breaking, and there was something electric about that feeling, like it might just be possible to shape a coming world without bullsh*t.

It’s not something that carried through to fruition. We didn’t rip the system in twain. The Kids in the Hall disbanded and the spirit of the times faded away, right into a renaissance of pop.

I’m not suggesting a causal connection between those two things, but it’s fitting that The Kids in the Hall ended when it did. And now if the humor feels the same to me, 27 years later, and my fundamental ethos as a person is the same as it ever was, I have to wonder if my enjoyment of the new episodes is merely nostalgic.

I don’t value nostalgia, to be clear. It’s boring, like looking at photographs from a family vacation, and encourages us to forget what’s unpleasant about the past. We need to remember the ugly parts and attend to them in life in general, which is what the Kids in the Hall have always done—further, they’ve made us laugh at them. These guys were telling jokes about AIDS during the AIDS crisis.

Death is the biggest punchline of all, so it’s fitting that when the group last returned to our screens it was with the criminally underseen Death Comes to Town (2010). But this was also different from the form we’d come to expect from the troupe—not a sketch comedy show nor a film but an extended story. Regardless, you should go watch it.

The 2022 revival is instead a continuation of the old Kids in the Hall show in a fairly direct way. Favorite old characters recur, along with new ones, and Shadowy Men provide the theme music as they’ve always done. When the first chord hit at the beginning of the first episode of the revival, I felt like I had come home again for the first time in a long time. (This was definitely nostalgia—I didn’t say it was unenjoyable.)

Kathy and Cathy stand looking at a fax machine, bemused
Courtesy of Amazon Prime

Yet there is novelty here as well. The humor feels fresh and cuts just as it always has. While there are a couple of jabs taken at contemporary cultural mores (like the office worker who objects to Cathy and Kathy clapping), it would be a mistake to think the Kids are taking issue with the spirit behind such things in the real world.

No, it’s rather the way in which the world is constantly absurd in new and interesting ways that the Kids in the Hall bring our attention to.

Absolutely everyone agrees, for example, that it is wrong to masturbate during a Zoom meeting, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t laugh at the way they push the premise. There is humor to be found in virtually any norm if you push on it hard enough, not by breaking the rule (which can also be funny) but by taking it to its excess and thus exposing its inherent kernel of absurdity.

This is the problem with how the reactionary and regressive will try to say they were joking as an excuse at times, when in fact their comments are in service of perpetuating systems of oppression and subjugation.

What The Kids in the Hall makes clear is that humor is itself political and progressive. The problem with conservative humor isn’t that it’s conservative, it’s that it’s not funny. These things just have an odd way of going together, as though humor itself were revolutionary. Perhaps it is. Certainly, the humor of The Kids in the Hall is.

But that’s just me speaking, to be clear. The comedy of The Kids in the Hall is all the more powerful for never being quite so blunt in its messaging. There is space here for everyone to laugh, if we can laugh at ourselves and at the human condition itself, and I only hope that laughter might move you.

The Kids in the Hall Season 6 premieres on Amazon Prime on May 13. Five episodes were watched for review.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

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