Me and my favorite Kid, Bruce McCulloch. *sighs*
Elisa's Adventures at Kids in the Hall Tapings
I have to thank one television show for getting me through high school still sane. I remember the first inklings I heard of it in 1989. My friend Brenda's older brother worked as a stagehand on this new comedy show on the CBC, a large television station in Toronto. It was called Kids in the Hall. Brenda excitedly related the first episode (the hour-long pilot, which I hear is hardish to find now?) to me in full detail. Soon after, she loaned me the videotape, and I was hooked. We would recite the sketches verbatim down the greenish-grey halls of our high school, giggling at Bruce McCulloch trying to woo a senior (still one of my absolute favorite sketches) or Buddy's first appearance, or the amazing sketch with Dave and Mark where Dave comes out to his conservative dad.
But this was only the beginning...
I think I first found out about actually attending Kids shows from my friend Mai-Liis. With the sacred phone number in my hand, I dialed excitedly, leaving my name and number after an answering machine message with the voice of a bitchy Scottish lady who was in charge of audience relations. Every time after this first call, instead of saying we'd call for tickets, we'd say we were calling the Bitchy Scottish Lady, our secret code that we'd gotten Kids tickets. Not so surprisingly, it was amazingly easy to get tickets, and I ended up attending around nine tapings of the show over its 5 or so year run.
There were usually two tapings - an early and a late one. We usually attended the earlier one at around 7:30pm and the first time, I went with my family. Outside the small CBC building in downtown Toronto, my mom, dad, brother, and I joined the anxious line of fans standing outside in the freezing cold. From behind a wrought iron gate, we could catch glimpses of the cast.
"Hey, there's Mark McKinney and he's...smoking!" someone whispered.
A gasp ran through the line. It was a big deal to see that even Mark, a near-god, had a bad habit. We filed into the small studio, a herd of excited cattle and I ran for the front, taking my place on the hard wooden bleachers. I knew I wanted to be as close as possible to the action. As we sat waiting for the show to start, the Kids mingled around, chatting with the audience. That's the odd, but wonderful thing about Canadian stars. We, the public treat them like normal people because they act like normal people. There is no strange aura of celebrity glowing around them. They merely have the job of working on television. There may have been a bit of awe about them, but it soon dissipated into friendly, almost comfortable joviality.
Take our first experience with the Kids. Sitting on an end of the uncomfortable wooden bleachers, my dad came face to face with Bruce McCulloch.
"Hi!" said Bruce jauntily, "My name's Bruce, what's yours?"
A simple twist of fate brought the perfect comic answer. My dad's name is Bruce.
"Oh, you're a Bruce, too?" Mr. McCulloch said excitedly. "You look like you need a hug."
And he embraced my startled, mostly-homophobic father warmly. To this day, this is one of my dad's favorite anecdotes. He's still proud to be hugged by "the other Bruce."
As soon as the show began, our ears were assaulted with a live band. It was Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. The band stood on a small, precarious scaffolding that acted as a makeshift stage. After the familiar theme song was played ("Having An Average Weekend") we were treated to over two hours of Kids mayhem. Much of what we saw ended up as sketches that spanned several shows. Some of the sketches taped were never seen on television.
After this first taping, I went with my friends every other time. I went several times with my friend Mai-Liis and took people along with me subsequent times. The maximum amount of tickets you could get at one time was 4, so we always did any combination that included me and then friends, or whomever wanted to go. Kids was still underground, still unknown. We felt like we were part of this cool, fresh experience that was just gaining speed. Like we were part of a private society. And it was wonderful.
Below are some small anecdotes I can remember from my attendances:
• I once held a brief conversation with Scott Thompson while he was only wearing a towel. Can't remember what sketch it was for, but he came right into the audience and sat down, casual as could be. (Again, no "glittery stardom" in Canada, we're all just people.)
• My friend Mai-Liis made a photo mug for Dave Foley. Said mug is featured in one of Dave's monologue sketches. (Can't remember which.) It has a photo of Dave, his wife, and their then new baby on it.
• As I mentioned previously, there is a shot of the audience shouting, "Show 18!" in the "Touch Paul Bellini contest" sketch (Canadian version). I am in the bottom left corner with the silly hat on. (I thought I looked cool back then). For some reason, they use another version of this sketch for American television. It's cut poorly and not so funny.
• The studio where Kids taped was dingy and old and very, very tiny. It actually was rumored to have been torn down after they finished taping there. I'm not certain if it actually was though.
• Some sketches we saw taped never made it to air. I think a Sir Simon Milligan (that was hella funny) never did, unfortunately.
• The Kids in dresses shirt you see me wearing in some of the photos is signed by all the Kids and hangs in my closet back home. They sold both the Kids in dresses shirt and the Kids with guns shirt at the show (I think!) and they also gave out free buttons, like the one on my jean jacket above. I hear they're rather rare...
• We had to stand outside in the freezing Canadian winter before we were herded into the tiny CBC studio. It was so worth the near-frostbite.
Mark said, "Let's all look away from the camera." The result. XD That's me on the left (eek!) and my hot friend Lynda on the right.
• I embarrassed myself by telling Mark McKinney he looked better as a woman. He said, "Thanks...I think!"
• In the sketch, "The Affair," you can hear my friend Erika's mom guffawing during the scene when the woman pokes at her stomach near the end of the sketch. She has a unique laugh and it was really sweet to hear it, especially since she has passed on. :(
• Bruce was notoriously absent from the meet and greets after the tapings, but I finally met him at the last one. *sighs* In the photo at the top, he is pulling up my shirt because I swear he saw me fiddling with it in the front row. I had bad anxiety back then and was fiddling with my shirt nervously.
Jamie just a leetle happy to meet Scott
• My friend Jamie stole Scott Thompson's styrofoam coffee cup from the trash after Scott drank from it. He was a little obsessed with Scott, but I probably would have done something similar as a teen.
• I was at the very last taping for fans of Kids, before the second, later press taping. It was a wonderful way to see them, and my high school years off.
• Seeing Shadowy Men live every time was incredible. I made myself a SM shirt (wish I could find a pic as it was probably one of my very first fan shirts I ever made!) and have many of their CDs.
• Interestingly enough, two of the above photos were actually used on the last Kids' tour. I got a little miffed (mostly because they cut fat me out of both of them and my schoolfriend Lynda is still there!), but they also used them without my permission. I've pretty much forgiven the Kids as from what I gather, they didn't know.
• Just found two more photos from tapings Mark and me here and Kevin and me here. Again, please no comments about my hair & glasses. I don't know what I was thinking back then. :P
• Even more photos here:
Bruce signing for fans
Dave, me, and my friend
Kevin in a towel?!
All in all, a totally fun time, which I shall remember fondly. Now I hear the boys are coming back to television (to air first on the CBC, natch!) And I can't wait! :D
(And please, no harsh comments about my hair.) :P