10 Fun Facts About The Kids In The Hall

A scene from The Kids in the Hall.
A scene from The Kids in the Hall.
Mill Creek Entertainment

It’s a fact! Ten of them, in fact. All about the comedians from Canada who created the strangest sketch show since that famous flying circus. Scott Thompson, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Dave Foley, and Bruce McCulloch.

After launching the pilot episode on both CBC and HBO in 1988, The Kids in the Hall—which made its series debut a year later—brought an irreverent, chaotic brand of comedy to the airwaves as a kind of antidote to Saturday Night Live's pop culture-heavy format. The series contorted and skewered real life, stretching satire to its furthest limits with recurring characters like the chauvinistic Cabbage Head, the explosive Chicken Lady, and others that weren’t human-animal/vegetable hybrids. And it's about to make a comeback!

Twenty-five years after airing its final episode, Variety reports that a revival of The Kids in the Hall will be coming to Amazon as its first original Canadian series. Though no release date has been announced for the revival, let’s crush our heads together for some facts about the purveyors of brain candy.

1. The Kids in the Hall adopted their name from a Sid Caesar gag.

Whenever Sid Caesar bombed a joke, he’d say that it had been written by “the kids in the hall,” referring to the young upstarts working for him in the NBC studio of Your Show of Shows. Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald were big Caesar fans, but they didn’t choose the name solely because of that admiration. The “kids” Caesar was goofing on in the 1950s included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and others who the new “Kids” also loved.

2. The Kids in the Hall avoided conversations about the nature of comedy.

There’s a cottage industry of comedians waxing comically about being funny (think Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee), and it makes sense to assume funny people are always discussing what makes things funny. Yet The Kids in the Hall shied away from navel gazing. “There was always a pooh-poohing of theoretical discussions,” Mark McKinney told Vulture. McCulloch added that “whenever we’d have a theoretical conversation about comedy, we’d stop because we knew if we kept at it, we’d break up."

3. The "head crusher" made his debut much earlier than The Kids in the Hall series.

One of The Kids in the Hall's most famous characters was the Head Crusher, in which McKinney played a delusional (or was he?) man who tried to crush people’s heads by squinting through his thumb and forefinger. It turns out that he’s been a champion against yuppiedom since the beginning.

“It was something that I created back in our club days,” McKinney told Esquire. “Kevin and I were having lunch, and we were broke. I think we were splitting a sandwich. We were feeling really poor, and we were having lunch in an area of Toronto called Bay Street which is kind of like Wall Street, so there were a lot of people in very expensive suits all around us talking loud, and I just started crushing their heads, like, ‘You think you so good? I crush your head!’ And we immediately thought it was funny."

4. It was a The Kids in the Hall fan who gave them cow eyes.

The Kids in the Hall attracted a curious fanbase, including one fan in Vancouver who gave them a jar of cow eyes. But it wasn’t just a gift: He put them out on a plate and asked the Kids to chow down. “We didn’t eat that,” McDonald told The A.V. Club.

5. Saturday Night Live almost broke The Kids in the Hall up before they even got going.

McDonald and Dave Foley were performing as The Kids in the Hall before the group formed into the Voltron of cross-dressing comedy we know. Likewise, McCulloch and McKinney were working together in the improv world. They met and started doing comedy together as The Kids in the Hall, eventually pulling in Thompson in 1985, but that was around the same time that Saturday Night Live came calling for McCulloch and McKinney. They wrote for the iconic show for only a season, necessitating a brief hiatus from the Kids, and when they got back together, it was SNL guru Lorne Michaels who saw their act and set the gears in motion for The Kids in the Hall TV show.

6. The Kids in the Hall made only one (super divisive) movie together.

Many TV comedies have tried to make the jump to feature films by trying to make their humor appeal to an even larger audience. That’s not what The Kids in the Hall did. They actually went even weirder when they made 1996’s Brain Candy, a film about a struggling pharmaceutical company that hits on a potent antidepressant which becomes a massive success (except when it drives people into comas where they relive their favorite memories on loop). It featured several characters from their show alongside many new ones, and was so divisive that Siskel and Ebert all but yelled at each other while reviewing it (Siskel loved it; Ebert ... not so much).

7. Brain Candy was made under incredibly depressing circumstances.

A cult film through and through (read: a box office flop), Brain Candy also represented the end of the road for The Kids in the Hall. It came after their TV show was over, and when the group's members were forging their own paths. Foley, who’d found mainstream success with NewsRadio, left the group over creative differences, and lost his writing credit and his main role in Brain Candy. It was a strain on a group that was already buckling, but they were also dealing with a lot of personal problems.

“In the period of a month, Dave’s marriage broke up, one of Kevin’s parents died, and my brother committed suicide,” Thompson later explained. “I was pretty much in shock. My brother died literally a week before we started shooting. All those things conspired to make it a dark time.” Not to mention they were making a comedy about depression.

8. The Kids in the Hall stand by their most controversial gag.

One Kids in the Hall character who made the leap to their movie also ruffled a lot of feathers for those who couldn’t tell where the satirical line had been drawn. Cancer Boy was meant to mock celebrities who sought the spotlight with sick children, but a lot of people thought it was a bad taste jab aimed at the kids. The studio desperately wanted the character cut, and Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it the film’s “worst idea,” but the Kids defend it to this day.

“I love Cancer Boy more than anybody,” McCulloch, who portrayed the character, told The A.V. Club. “I was tired of the way that little kids with cancer were used by celebrities for photo ops. If the kid goes into remission, does Wayne Gretzky still visit him?” The other cast members echoed that support for the controversial joke.

9. “Girl Drink Drunk” had an unhappy origin.

In another famous sketch, Foley plays a “grown man” corporate climber peer pressured into having alcohol for the first time. Eventually, the drinks that “taste like candy” ruin his life, hilariously. For McDonald, the idea for the gag came from a ruinous performance when McCulloch bombed throughout a show and then scolded the group, which depressed McDonald to hit a bar with McKinney. The winos at the bar depressed him more, and McKinney convinced him to have his very first drink, a margarita, because “it takes just like candy."

10. The Kids in the Hall reformed to make a murder mystery.

The dissolution of the group after Brain Candy wasn’t the end for The Kids in the Hall. They’ve reunited a few times in the past two decades for live tours, but The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town was their first time returning to television, and the result is something tonally similar to their sketch show while structurally divergent.

It follows a single story—the murder of the mayor of a small town vying to host the 2028 Summer Olympics. Oh, and the scythe-wielding personification of Death has checked into a local motel. It’s still profoundly goofy and seriously silly—and bodes well for their Amazon revival series.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping Newsletter!

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Facts About David Fincher's The Social Network for Its 10th Anniversary

Jesse Eisenberg stars in David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
Jesse Eisenberg stars in David Fincher's The Social Network (2010).
Merrick Morton/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network—a movie made when Facebook was less than seven years old and the social media era was relatively new—seemed destined to age poorly. But in the decade since its premiere in October 2010, the film’s depiction of the website and its young founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is more relevant than ever.

Even if you haven’t logged onto Facebook in years, the film offers plenty to love, from David Fincher’s detailed direction to Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-winning script. In honor of its 10-year anniversary, here are 10 facts about The Social Network.

1. Aaron Sorkin started writing the script for The Social Network before the book it's based on was published.

Aaron Sorkin makes a cameo in The Social Network (2010).Merrick Morton, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network is officially an adaptation of The Accidental Billionaires, Ben Mezrich's 2009 book detailing the founding of Facebook. But according to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, he had already completed 80 percent of the script by the time he read the book. The project came to him in the form of a 14-page book proposal the publisher was shopping around to filmmakers ahead of the title's release. “I said yes on page three," Sorkin told Deadline in 2011. "That’s the fastest I’ve ever said yes to anything."

Instead of waiting for The Accidental Billionaires to be completed and published, Sorkin started working on the script immediately, doing his own first-hand research for much of the process instead of referring to the book.

2. Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

When Transformers star Shia LaBeouf turned down the role of The Social Network’s lead character, Jesse Eisenberg was hired to play Mark Zuckerberg instead. Superbad's Jonah Hill was another star who came close to being cast in the movie, in his case as Napster founder Sean Parker; ultimately, Fincher decided Hill wasn’t right for the role and cast Justin Timberlake instead.

3. The Social Network wasn’t filmed at Harvard.

Harvard University is integral to the legend of Facebook, and setting the first half of The Social Network there was non-negotiable. Filmmakers ran into trouble, however, when attempting to get the school's blessing. The 1970 adaptation of Love Story been shot there, and damaged the campus; the school has reportedly banned all commercial filming on the premises since then. To get around this, The Social Network crew shot the Harvard scenes at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and two prep schools, Phillips Academy Andover and Milton Academy, in Massachusetts.

4. David Fincher did sneak one shot of Harvard into The Social Network.

To convince the audience that they were indeed seeing Harvard, Fincher couldn’t resist sneaking in a shot of the campus’s iconic architecture. When Jesse Eisenberg runs across Harvard Square (which is not on Harvard property) in the beginning film, some nearby arches (which are on Harvard property) appear in the background. Fincher got the lighting he needed for this scene by hiring a street mime to roll a cart with lights on it onto the campus.

“If security were to stop him, the mime wouldn’t talk," The Social Network’s director of photography Jeff Cronenweth told Variety. "By the time they got him out of there, we would have accomplished our shot.”

5. Natalie Portman gave Aaron Sorkin the inside scoop on Harvard.

Natalie Portman attended Harvard from 1999 to 2003, briefly overlapping with fellow star alum Mark Zuckerberg. While enrolled, she dated a member of one of the university’s elite final clubs, which are an important part of The Social Network’s plot. When she learned that Sorkin was writing the screenplay for the movie, she invited the writer over to hear her insider knowledge. Sorkin gave the actress a shout-out in the final script. During one of the deposition scenes, Eisenberg's Harvard-era Zuckerberg is described as “the biggest thing on a campus that included 19 Nobel Laureates, 15 Pulitzer Prize winners, two future Olympians, and a movie star.”

6. Armie Hammer and his body double went to twin boot camp for The Social Network.

Armie Hammer and Josh Pence (as Armie Hammer) in The Social Network (2010).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Armie Hammer is credited as playing both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, but he wasn’t acting alone in his scenes. Josh Pence was cast as a body double and Hammer’s face was digitally pasted over his in post-production. For every scene where both twins appear on screen, Hammer and Pence played separate Winklevi, and then they would swap roles and shoot the scene again. This method allowed the characters to physically interact in ways that wouldn’t have been possible with split screens. Pence’s face may be missing from the movie, but his physical performance was still essential to selling the brothers' dynamic. He and Hammer worked with an acting coach for 10 months to nail down the characters’ complementary body language.

7. The Social Network's tagline was changed at the last minute.

For The Social Network’s main poster, designer Neil Kellerhouse made Jesse Eisenberg’s face the focal point. Over it, he superimposed the memorable tagline: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Originally, the text read “300 million friends,” but it was changed under the assumption that Facebook would hit half a billion users in time for the movie’s October 2010 release.

“We were really hedging our bets," Kellerhouse told IndieWire. "But we scooped them on their own story because right as the film was coming out they got 500 million [members] so we got their publicity as well. It worked out super serendipitously.”

8. Fight Club’s Tyler Durden (kind of) makes a cameo in The Social Network.

Sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed the Easter egg David Fincher snuck into The Social Network. In the scene where Mark Zuckerberg is checking someone’s Facebook to cheat on a test, the name “Tyler Durden” can be seen in the top-left corner of the profile. Tyler Durden is the name of the narrator’s alter ego (played by Brad Pitt) in 1999’s Fight Club. Fincher directed both films.

9. The real Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t a fan of The Social Network.

Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network (2010).Merrick Morton, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The Social Network doesn’t paint Mark Zuckerberg in the most flattering light, and unsurprisingly, the real-life Facebook founder wasn’t happy about it. Following the movie’s release, he called out its “hurtful” inaccuracies, specifically citing the fictional Mara Rooney character that’s used as his motivation for founding the website. But even he admits that some details were spot-on. “It’s interesting what stuff they focused on getting right," Zuckerberg said at a Stanford event. "Like every single fleece and shirt I had in that movie is actually a shirt or fleece that I own.”

10. A sequel to The Social Network is not out of the question.

The Social Network premiered when Facebook was less than a decade old, and the story of the internet giant has only gotten more dramatic since then. Since settling lawsuits with Eduardo Saverin and the Winkelvoss twins, Facebook has been battling scandals related to privacy issues and its influence on the 2016 election. The last 10 years have provided more than enough material for a sequel to The Social Network, and both Aaron Sorkin and Jesse Eisenberg have expressed interest in such a project. As of now, there are no confirmed plans for a follow-up.