Why are Canadians so damn funny? It's a complex question, but the simple answer is they're better cross-dressers. You have your Dana Carvey, your Mike Myers, but as the first season of their 1989-95 sketch show (A&E Home Video; $59.95) demonstrates, the Kids in the Hall were wigs and shoulders above nearly everyone else.
There was more to the Kids than drag, though, and more to their drag than easy yuks. They were postfeminist men having absurd, dark fun with gender roles and p.c., long before The Man Show dumbed both subjects down. As Bruce McCulloch recalls in a bonus-disc interview, for instance, his girlfriend's being hit on by leches inspired Cabbage Head, a vegetable-pated boor who claims women who won't sleep with him are bigots. ("It's because I have a cabbage for a head, isn't it?!") The Kids were also among the first TV comics to deal with gay issues in depth, thanks largely to the out-and-how Scott Thompson, who played queeny lounge philosopher Buddy Cole. Also memorable are the subtle character pieces--and the unsubtle ones, like the bitter man who pretends to crush his enemies' heads between his fingers. Before the media discovered him in the '90s, the Angry White Male had arrived on TV. And as it turned out, he sometimes liked to wear a dress. --By James Poniewozik