The Kids in the Hall began working together as a comedy troupe in 1984. The troupe originated as a club act and progressed to a television series in 1989, airing on CBC in Canada and in a raunchier version on HBO in the US. The show was added to the CBS late-night lineup in 1992, where it ran until January 1995. The name came from The Jack Benny Show. The American comedian would sometimes use jokes from young writers and then say to his audience, "That one's from one of the kids in the hall."
Mark MCKINNEY and Bruce MCCULLOCH, a comedy team from Alberta, joined Kevin MCDONALD and Dave FOLEY, who were already calling themselves The Kids in the Hall. It wasn't long before actor Scott THOMPSON joined the group, and they quickly gained a following. While performing at downtown Toronto nightspots, they were scouted by producers from Saturday Night Live (SNL). The group broke up for a short time when McKinney and McCulloch were invited to New York to work as writers on SNL, but was reunited in 1986. Their pilot show, produced by Lorne MICHAELS, was aired in 1988.
The Kids in the Hall, produced by CBC and Broadway Video, a Toronto-based production company owned by Michaels, was also aired on Comedy Central in the US and the Comedy Network in Canada. Internationally, it aired in England, North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Brazil and Mexico, and can still be seen in reruns. The Kids played both male and female roles, and there were a number of recurring routines and characters. Much of their humour was dark and many of the sketches had gay themes or characters. Scott Thompson, the only gay member of the group, did a wicked impersonation of Queen Elizabeth II.
The group wrote most of its own material, along with regular contributors Paul Bellini, Brian Hartt, Norm Hiscock, and later Garry Campbell, Diane Flacks and Andy JONES. Critics hailed them as "the comedic hope for the 1990s," and they secured three consecutive Emmy nominations for outstanding individual achievement in writing for a variety or music program, in 1993, 1994 and 1995. The Kids in the Hall was nominated for 18 Gemini Awards during its run, winning 8.
At the end of the last episode, the stars were filmed saying goodbye to the studio audience, going into a field, and being buried alive while Paul Bellini danced on their grave. The tombstone simply said, "The Kids in the Hall TV Show, 1989-1995." But the fans would not allow the kids to be killed off. In 1996, the group reunited for a one-off movie, Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, which was savaged by the critics. In 2000, the troupe came together for a successful North American tour, "Same Guys, New Dresses," reprising many sketches from the show, and the group reunited yet again for "Tour of Duty" in 2002 and "Live as We'll Ever Be" in 2008. In 2009 the 5 original members filmed Death Comes to Town, an eight-part miniseries that went to air on CBC-TV in January 2010, to the delight of The Kids' longtime fans worldwide.
Canada's Walk of Fame honoured the Kids in the Hall by inducting the comedy quintet in 2008.