The second season of the Canadian sketch comedy cult hit Kids in the Hall finds the already politely, downright preciously anarchic quintet attempting to push the limits of how much fun, exactly, can be poked at middle-class mediocrity without becoming self-righteous. Indeed, one of their most memorable skits from the season (“Comfortable”) almost builds its entire premise on the group’s sense of disbelief at how unbelievably easy it is to destroy sacred cows. In it, two married couples are spending their post-dinner bonding time preparing for an hour or so of meaningless, self-censored conversation and belt loosening. But when one (Scott) undoes his belt with the intent of grinding his bi-curious hips into the choad of his neighbor’s wife (Kevin), the group laughs it off and revels in their ability to remain unfazed by what would be considered behavioral lapses of judgment if they weren’t “among friends.” It all goes swimmingly until the air of confession prods the other wife (Mark) to tell the game couple that she hated the lamp they gave her for Christmas and told them she broke it when she really snuck it into the trash. This blow lands below the belt in the realm of middlebrow interior design commoditization, and thus the evening comes to a swift conclusion. (Also from this same school of skits equating cheeky insouciance with malice is the immortal Simon and Hecubus—who are gate-keepers of Hell with shows at 1, 3, and 5—displaying their wondrous world of “pure unnatural Eeeee-vil”…which mostly consists of spoiling the ends of mystery movies and refusing to cooperate for card tricks.) The Kids were perhaps truly reaching their stride here (even if some of the jabs at single thirtysomething women seem a little more unforgiving than usual), and they can credit their success to their willingness to craft sketch comedy that has the veneer of topicality, but the subversive instinct to aim less at the “drug culture and sexism” advertised on the back cover of their second DVD release and more for the act of satire itself. Which ultimately resulted in some of the show’s greatest successes (a spot-on, noir parody of Pretty Woman in which the hooker never acquiesces to a stable homestead and, after being married to her white knight for 50 years, asks her husband for the millions he owes her in hand-jobs and finger-fucks, as well as overage charges for rubber equipment) as well as some of their rare misfires (the “Phone” episode, which is rather baldly lifted from the structural playbook of Monty Python, who I clearly was too harsh on in my review of the previous season).
I was probably also a bit too harsh on the quality of the transfers last time around. They'll do, pricks.
Again, the bonus fourth disc in the box is composed of docs, selected skits with cast commentary, and videotaped performances from their pre-television sketch comedy days at the Rivoli Theater. The second part of An Oral History is only 15 minutes this time around (as opposed to forty), and covers their ability to play women "straight" and their ability to coax crew member and big-time bear Paul Bellini to submit to a contest whereby viewers could call in for a chance to touch his furry tub-tum. The "best of" compilations reveal that the cast mainly recorded tracks for the entire projected DVD series in one sitting, and like the season itself, their chat-tracks show the group spunky is as spunky does. The only complaint: clearly they (and by "they," I mean the straight ones) don't understand that the complex, emotive, and hysterical "Hazy Movie" is the thrilling culmination of Scott's drama queen aspirations. Or maybe they do, I can't quite remember.
"I'm sorry. I'd love to be of assistance to you, but I'm afraid I speak no English."