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The Kids in the Hall Have Gotten Old. Their Comedy Hasn’t.

There are some reprises and call-outs: The head crusher returns, as does the self-styled squash-playing menace the Eradicator. Buddy Cole makes particular sense aged into a regal elder-gay — the way, Thompson has said, he envisioned the character decades ago — and both of Thompson’s signature queens reappear in a sketch in which Her Majesty dedicates a risqué monument to Buddy’s beloved old bathhouse.

Sometimes, the new bits lean on the aging gags too obviously, like a painful sketch about 60-year-old male strippers. (There is a healthy amount of nudity in the season, more gainfully deployed in other segments.)

But the most surprising thing about the season is how much it tries to evolve the Kids’ comedy and take it in new directions. This is not simply the “The Kids in the Hall” the group would have made had it stuck around for a sixth season in the 1990s. (They briefly reunited for 2010’s “Death Comes to Town,” a comedy serial made, the documentary notes, when Thompson was seriously ill with cancer.) If the five were once cheerfully riotous kids, they’ve become gentlemanly comic assassins.

Some of the best sketches, whether silly or savage, have a tinge of horror. Foley plays a morning radio host five years after the apocalypse, spinning Melanie’s 1971 earworm “Brand New Key” over and over, his upbeat patter contrasting with his dead eyes. A Shakespeare aficionado wishes that his bust of the Bard would come to life, and it does — horrifically, since it has no arms or torso.

And in the dreamlike, expressionist “Flags of Mark,” McKinney spins a fantasy about his devoted friends using flags — depicting him riding a dolphin under a rainbow — to find each other amid a faceless, masked crowd while his disembodied face floats above them, laughing at their dedication and distress. It’s a fun-house portrait of egotism and a kind of book end to McKinney’s famous early character: He isn’t crushing your head, his head is crushing you.

Depressingly often lately, seeing your favorite comics get on in years means watching them turn into cranks, repeating themselves and bemoaning how nobody can take a joke anymore. But for the most part, the group has handled aging well — maybe because it was always a little ahead of its time, maybe because its comedy always had more than the usual quotient of memento mori. (The final credits of the show’s original run, after all, had the quintet being buried in a common grave.) Even punks get old. But you never stop being a Kid.

Circassia News

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