Published on January 11th, 2010 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Kids In the Hall: Death Comes to Town

As the ubiquitous CBC promos state, the Kids are back.

Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson gathered in the atrium of the CBC building in Toronto for a Q&A moderated by Jian Ghomeshi. Well, more of a Q & A & A & tangent & talk-over-each-other marathon of silliness. Comedy bonds die hard, and it didn’t take long for the boys to give Ghomeshi a headache.

“You thought Billy Bob was your toughest interview,” Thompson said.

Fun fact: during the run of their original show, the Kids never worked in the CBC building, citing the oppressive no-smoking rule. The only time they shot in the building was for the sketch The Beard, where McDonald jumps to his death into the very atrium hosting this panel.

The brief session solicited few serious answers about Death Comes to Town. We did learn that the concept was McCulloch’s brainchild, and the bulk of the early writing was handled by him and McDonald before the other kids joined in. Foley said there was no improvisation on set, but that they would do rewrites while they shot.

Hands-down the best question (and subsequent answer) to come out of the audience Q&A was which one of you will be the first to die, and how? McCulloch didn’t hesitate: “The elephant in the room will fall and kill Dave Foley.”

Kids in the Hall at CBC Toronto. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Kids in the Hall at CBC Toronto. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

The premise of Death Comes to Town is summed up quite well in the title: Death arrives in the small city of Shuckton to take out various townspeople whose time is deemed “up”. There’s the glory-hungry mayor and his wife, the couch-ridden former hockey player, the forgetful pizza delivery woman, and so on. By the end of the first episode, Death has taken his first victim and disposed of his soul in the most wickedly funny manner. What happens in the wake of the first death? That’s for episode two.

As expected, nothing is off-limits in the premiere episode, with demented references to religion, abortion, drugs, Alzheimer’s, and of course death. The show is truly in the style of KITH, with the kind of characters and slightly Python-esque writing that made them famous. Their youth may have faded a bit, but their comedic sensibilities definitely haven’t.

One problem is the use of heavy prosthetics to create some of the characters. On the old show, it was almost always obvious who was playing who underneath the wigs and makeup. In Death Comes to Town, it’s sometimes difficult to know who you’re watching. Yes, that really does look like a legit woman playing the mayor’s wife, but part of the Kids’ charm is being able to recognize Dave Foley by something other than his voice.

It will be interesting to see how some of the characters are fleshed out in subsequent episodes, specifically the low-rent Channel 9 “Action News” crew, which could be a show on its own. There are some characters that are still to be introduced, including a couple of lawyers, so Death’s handiwork is bound to end up in the courtroom.

Death Comes to Town airs for the next eight Tuesday nights at 9pm on CBC in Canada (and fortunate American border towns). No US airdates have been announced as of yet.


About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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