Kids in the Hall.

In the nascent days of Comedy Central – that’s the early to mid-1990s – the channel had several rather spectacular sketch comedy shows. This is the first in a series of posts I’m making on some of my favorites, all under the category Gay Nineties. Please note, not all the links will be safe for work or for the easily offended. Enjoy!

I lived without a television from 1989 to 1993. Well, that’s not really true; I had one, but it was an old 1960s black and white portable with a shitty antenna, so I only tuned in when a major news story happened. Hence, when the 1992 L.A. riots occurred, I got to watch it as though I were seeing the 1968 Watts riots.

When my then-husband and I finally got a television set – thanks to his job at an electronics store and my then-good credit – and hooked up the cable, we discovered Comedy Central had made a deal with HBO to rerun all the episodes of Kids in the Hall. I’d missed the series when it was fresh and new and I may not have seen it at all without those reruns … or at least not until someone gasped “YOU HAVEN’T SEEN KIDS IN THE HALL?!” at me and then let me borrow their videos of the show.

The group – Dave Foley, Scott Thompson, Bruce McCullough, Kevin Macdonald, and Mark McKinney – was really good at one offs, that is sketches with characters or archetypes which were rarely, if ever, repeated, but it was their recurring characters that really got me. There was the Chicken Lady, Simon & Hecubus, Gavin, Francesca Fiore & Bruno Puntz-Jones, and of course, Buddy Cole, the gayest gay to ever hit Gay Town.

The character of Buddy Cole was especially fascinating to me, as I was active in the gay/lesbian leather scene at the time. Remember, in the early 1990s, no really prominent actor in Hollywood was out of the closet – Ellen herself didn’t come out on her own show until 1997. Meanwhile, I’d met a lot of gay men like Buddy, which is why the stereotype was so funny, but as yet no recurring character on TV had been allowed to be the least bit effeminate, let alone as OUT-RAGE-OUS as Scott Thompson was in that role.

This is my absolute favorite Buddy Cole sketch, of course. It seems so quaint now, with all the over-the-top videos and series we can see on YouTube or Funny or Die these days, but trust me, any mention of gay leather was “out there” when I first saw it. And it’s still a hilarious sketch, which is what Kids in the Hall was really good at: Comedy that lasts. Which is good, because the show is 25 years old now.

True story: I saw Scott Thompson perform as Buddy Cole at International Mr. Leather in the late 1990s. He was magnificent.

Another true story: I ran into Bruce McCullough at a day spa in Hollywood once. He was on his way out, so I didn’t chat him up, but he smiled a lot. He seemed like a really happy, nice man. I don’t castigate myself for not bothering him; people like to relax after a spa treatment, not get bothered by fan girls.

The cast reunited in 2010 for a mini-series titled Death Comes to Town, which was just as funny as the old show, if not more so. They are also getting together in March of this year to do a reading of their 1996 film, Brain Candy, a movie I still quote liberally from even now.

Now to figure out how I’m going to get to Toronto and score a ticket to that reading …

Next: Upright Citizens Brigade

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