'The Kids in the Hall' push off-color humor

MEDIA MONITOR

December 28, 1990|By Steve McKerrow

You can say this about "The Kids in the Hall:" They are sometimes funnier than the gang over at "Saturday Night Live." Then again, that is not saying a lot these days, when the late-night "SNL" players fall flat more often than not.

"The Kids" are the irreverent comedy troupe from Canada that is gaining some American exposure on cable's HBO premium service. A second season of 22 shows arrived last week and continues tonight at midnight, featuring Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson.

Back are some of the group's trademarks, including occasionally strong language, frequent disdain for institutions and a level of cross-dressing not seen since "Monty Python's Flying Circus." The production values, such as sets, costumes and on-location taping, seem to have been upgraded a bit, too.

Media Monitor still tends to think the group's most interesting feature is the name -- it was taken from Jack Benny's description of would-be comedy writers who would try to get him to read their scripts. Still, there are some laughs in tonight's second show of the season.

Be aware, however, that the funniest skit is stereotypically offensive, featuring Thompson's outrageously swishy character, Buddy. He recounts the time he coached an all-girl softball team (in which the all-male cast portrays all the players), and also designed his own uniform.

And McCulloch returns with his "man with a cabbage head," here trying to pick up three women (all in-drag cast members) using the blunt language that makes midnight an appropriate hour to screen the show.

The comparison to "SNL" is appropriate because that show's creator and current producer, Lorne Michaels, is also executive producer of "The Kids" series. The show's regular time slot is midnight Fridays, but each episode gets numerous repeats. If you're in the mood for some sophomoric humor of questionable taste, check your cable listings.

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A VERY BUSY YEAR -- The first year of the 1990s has been one newsy twelvemonth, from the thaw of the Cold War to the potential war in the Middle East. Along the way, Nelson Mandela got out of jail in South Africa and Margaret Thatcher was pushed out of office in England.

On television, the biggest stories have had the biggest play on the all-news Cable News Network. Hence "CNN's The Year in Review" this weekend promises to be an authoritative rundown of events, offering the network's taped highlights of events, some of which broke there first. The show is scheduled to premiere at 2 p.m. Sunday, with a prime-time repeat the same day at 9 p.m.

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