Splitsider

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

'Kids in the Hall': The Lost Sketches

While CBC was The Kids in the Hall's Canadian home for their full five season run, the first three seasons aired on HBO in the United States before moving to CBS for the fourth and fifth seasons. When the DVD sets of the show were compiled, the logical choice was to use the full HBO versions for the first three seasons, as they sometimes ran several minutes longer than the CBC cuts that were rigidly timed to twenty-three and a half minutes to accommodate commercials. The Canadian cuts would be used for season 4 and 5, as CBC’s broadcast standards were still more lax than American network TV.

Besides the more open-ended running times, the Kids were also less restricted in their use of language on premium cable than on the taxpayer-funded Canadian broadcaster. Language was sometimes bleeped or edited out, but they commonly shot alternate takes of sketches: “Shitty Soup” became “Putrid Soup”, and in “The Jury”, Bruce McCulloch pled guilty of being a prick instead of an asshole. A handful of sketches also had alternate takes with more explicit Canadian references: Mark McKinney’s “White Guy” bluesman character cops to being from the Ottawa-Hull region instead of Vermont, and the partiers from “Cat’s Away” have a list of Canadian cities (and Baffin Island!) appearing in the film montage.

The Touch Paul Bellini contest from season 2 is probably the most notable regional variation: there were actually two winners selected, one American (Rebecca Klatka of St. Petersburg, Florida) and one Canadian (Charles Hitchcock of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick). Both versions use the same airport and hotel footage (a sign in the airport gives away that the towel-clad staff writer is picking up his bags in Fredericton); however, the CBC version features more hotel footage (shot in Fredericton’s Lord Beaverbrook Hotel). Bellini looks out of his window to different views in each version (the Saint John River on CBC, a parking lot on a city highway on HBO) and drives to meets his pokers in different environments: the country for Hitchcock and suburbia for Klatka. Here's the American version, and here's the Canadian version.

There were a number of sketches in the HBO shows that were completely excluded from the CBC shows, mainly for language or controversial content. Season one had the most content removed, as the shows in season two and three ran a little shorter and did not feature quite as many controversial sketches. While the most of the gaps in airtime were mitigated by the fixed running times, on occasion the Canadian versions would feature segments not seen in the HBO versions.

The following seven sketches were produced specifically for the CBC versions of the show and were never included on any Kids in the Hall DVDs:

Doug Jines Orders Bacon

Bruce McCulloch as the titular Jines (named after the editor on the show’s pilot episode) makes a phone order for a bacon-and-egg sandwich with the bacon burnt, punctuated by title cards with a Mark McKinney voiceover.

Date Monologue

Kevin McDonald self-deprecatingly recalls an awkward movie date with a woman with Cynthia, including his failed attempts at humor. At one point, McDonald rationalizes his desire to have sex with his date in the theatre as a “blow for feminism” (“Long live Gloria Steinman! Long live…other famous feminists”), but by the end of the sketch he’s begging “DO ME! DO ME!”

Aroomba

A deliberately silly and slapped-together sketch, intended as a middle finger to the network for not allowing “Dr. Seuss Bible” in the Canadian broadcast. A collection of random absurdities feature McDonald getting advice from his Papa (Deborah Theaker, the unlucky date of the “Nobody Likes Us” guys earlier in the show), McKinney performing medical tests by cutting a steak, and Dave Foley declaring “I hate cwazy people!” before he and McCulloch start grooving and singing along to a bassline.

Blah Blah

A filmed blackout piece where we see McDonald on the phone, and makes the “blah blah” hand gesture to Scott Thompson as we hear the cliché “high-pitched gibberish” used for the unheard portion of the phone call. Cut to the other phone, where we see a hand “speaking” into the receiver by making the gesture and the gibberish noises. Like Aroomba, this replaced one of their more religiously irreverent pieces (season 2’s “Carpenter”) and has that same “deliberately inane” feeling to it.

The Leash – Dime

A very short segment featuring McKinney and McCulloch as the S&M master and slave characters that appeared briefly a few shows back.

Why I Got Into Comedy

McCulloch’s “Poo Guy” was too much for the CBC; this dark McKinney monologue aired instead. It’s a classic tale of how an uncle’s encouragement helped a young boy find his direction in the world, if the uncle was a drunk whose reactions to young Mark’s comedy bordered on medical emergency.

Mushroom Boy

Another McKinney monologue, where he plays what seems to be a cousin of his Darrill character. Leon Van Dyk (named for one of the show’s hair stylists) talks about his childhood fame from being able to identify mushrooms while blindfolded, before he squandered all his money investing in a “health product” made from freshly squeezed muffins. This bit replaced another McKinney monologue (Sacking All Admirals, or “Why did they have to take the word gay?”) in a third season show. Care for a little muffin juice?

Some of these sketches aired in the network TV versions on CBS, but none were included on the DVD releases as even a bonus feature. It makes sense that the Kids would take the opportunity to present the sketches as originally intended; the relative paucity of CBC-only originals and redundancy that would have been created by including all the alternate versions of sketches would not have been worth the effort. The CBC versions continue to air in their bowdlerized glory on Canada’s Comedy Network.

Appendix:

Here are all the sketches that ran on HBO but never ran on CBC, with YouTube links where available.

Asshole (season 1, episode 4)
Explore Scott (season 1, episode 5)
One Step at a Time (season 1, episode 10)
Who's Gay in Hollywood? (season 1, episode 12)
Editors Finale (season 1, episode 14)
Captain Alan (season 1, episode 15)
Manny Coon (season 1, episode 16)
The Power of my Cock (season 1, episode 16)
Mass Murderer (season 1, episode 17)
B&K (season 1, episode 17)
Love Me (season 1, episode 18)
Hey Baby (season 1, episode 19)
Mutilated (season 1, episode 19)
Dr. Seuss Bible (season 1, episode 20)
Fact #2 (season 2, episode 11) (first one in video)
Carpenter (season 2, episode 12)
Poo Guy (season 2, episode 15)
Shortest (season 2, episode 17)
Sacking All Admirals (season 3, episode 7)

(Season 2, episode 18 never ran on the Comedy Network until they got an HBO copy about 10 years ago, but I don't know if it's because it never ran on CBC or if they were just never provided with a CBC copy.)

Ben Douwsma is a freelance writer and photographer. His sole motivation to seek fame and fortune is a burrito.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594990098 Brett Bayne

    Why didn't the "fish wrapping" sketch ever run? I think it was supposed to be in Season 5. They showed most of it in a KITH documentary that was aired on E! (I think) back when Season 5 was being taped. I still have that doc on video. 

  • Aroomba

    The "Spot Bellini" contest from season 4 also had a Canadian (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNFpSZvhX_A) and an American version that I cannot find for the life of me. All I remember is that it was almost exactly the same (except without all the Canadian bits . . . as you would expect).

  • http://twitter.com/ronaldjock Ronald Jock

    I love me some Dave Foley. Always brings the laughs.

    It's brutal what his ex-wife has done to him.

  • Consant_velocity_

    My most sincere thanks to the author for clearing up what was a 20-year mystery to me. I gave up watching the KITH DVDs because some of the sketches I loved most never turned up there. Seeing the "Aroomba" sketch for the first time since it originally aired was truly life-affirming. Way funnier than the Dr. Seuss Bible, IMHO.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wesleymead Wesley Mead

     Wow, fantastic work! I'd never seen any of these.

  • AnDi

    I have the dvd set and when they celebrate Scott playing his 100th waiter, they show a clip of 'Aroomba', which is a bit of a tease! Thank you for all of these!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=728892819 Tiffany Morningstar

    I remember watching the season the sketches from that documentary were supposed to air, and I think only the sketch with Foley as a plastic surgeon aired.  I was always curious about what happened to them, I'm guessing they cut them?

  • Williamkess