Sketch troupe gets de­fin­i­tive bi­o­graph­i­cal treat­ment

Winnipeg Free Press - - BOOKS - RE­VIEWED BY RAN­DALL KING

THE mys­te­ri­ous ti­tle of this book about the leg­endary Cana­dian com­edy troupe the Kids in the Hall came via mem­ber Kevin McDon­ald, who is quoted thus: “In­di­vid­u­ally, we’re all smart guys, but col­lec­tively, we’re re­ally just one dumb guy.”

Au­thor Paul My­ers went with that ti­tle pre­sum­ably be­cause while the five mem­bers rev­o­lu­tion­ized TV sketch com­edy with their show, which ran from 1989 to 1995, the jour­ney had more than its share of po­ten­tially self­de­struc­tive dumb-guy turns.

My­ers, the brother of an­other Cana­dian comic le­gend Mike My­ers, has some ex­pe­ri­ence of writ­ing what amounts to a quin­tu­ple bi­og­ra­phy via his book Bare­naked Ladies: Pub­lic Stunts, Pri­vate Sto­ries. But more im­por­tantly, he un­der­stands the nit­tygritty of com­edy per­for­mance, from the risky busi­ness of im­pro­vi­sa­tion to the nig­gling at­ten­tion to de­tail at­ten­dant to the pro­duc­tion of a broad­cast TV com­edy se­ries.

My­ers also un­der­stands the Cana­dian dy­nam­ics at play in the Kids’ suc­cess story, which flow­ered si­mul­ta­ne­ously in Al­berta (where Mark McKin­ney and Bruce Mc­Cul­loch met and bonded do­ing im­prove at Cal­gary’s Loose Moose Theatre) and Toronto, where McDon­ald first clicked with Dave Fo­ley at Sec­ond City. Scott Thomp­son was still a stu­dent at York Univer­sity when he went to check out the guys at the Poor Alex Theatre, and in­stantly knew his des­tiny was tied to theirs.

Based on ex­ten­sive in­ter­views with the Kids and the in­flu­encers in their or­bit — in­clud­ing Mike My­ers and Satur­day Night Live cre­ator Lorne Michaels — as well as out­right fans (Sa­man­tha Bee, Judd Apa­tow and Seth Mey­ers, who wrote the in­tro­duc­tion), the book could serve as a text­book for com­edy fans want­ing to un­der­stand the se­ri­ous busi­ness of in­duc­ing laughs.

But the book also scores as a sur­pris­ingly res­o­nant glimpse into the per­sonal lives of these vastly dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, tied to­gether — with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of McKin­ney — by fam­ily dys­func­tion. (Fo­ley, McDon­ald and Mc­Cul­loch each had fa­thers with se­ri­ous al­co­hol is­sues.)

On oc­ca­sion, the troupe it­self suf­fered its own dys­func­tional dy­nam­ics, es­pe­cially sur­round­ing the mak­ing of their sole movie, 1996’s Brain Candy. When they re­turned to the CBC air­waves for the 2010 minis­eries Death Comes to Town, they bonded as never be­fore, largely in re­sponse to a med­i­cal cri­sis that af­flicted Thomp­son, who was in treat­ment for non-Hodgkin’s lym­phoma.

The Kids in the Hall will doubt­less The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy

By Paul My­ers

Anansi Press, 344 pages, $23

be re­mem­bered for the cut­tingedge com­edy they cre­ated against oft­frac­tious per­sonal re­la­tion­ships. How de­light­ful it is that they wrote their own happy end­ing to that his­tory.

Not dumb at all, ac­tu­ally.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.