An astronaut, a bunny? You figure it out…(Faile’s Bathurst St mural)
In the Great White North, we’re known for producing some funny people, and in the late 1980s, five guys went from being sketch comedy club faves to tv stars with The Kids in the Hall.
Forming as a sketch comedy group in 1985 with Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson and Dave Foley, the group were lured to the US for various tv opportunities as individuals.
In 1988, the group created a tv special on CBC and HBO and its success led to the television series The Kids in the Hall on CBC TV and HBO in 1989, a quirky and surreal series of sketches, produced by Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels.
Similar to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Kids in the Hall had many reccuring characters, often portrayed women and openly discussed sexuality, fetishes, sports, oddities of life, regional differences and society’s norms through monologues.
Scott Thompson’s Buddy Cole became a fan fave, as well as rebellious teen Bobby Terrence, stoner Bauer, The Chicken Lady and precocious Gavin. Other regular sketches were 30 Helens Agree, It’s a Fact!, Headcrusher, Police Department, Sizzler Sisters and The Daves I Know.
The series spawned many obsessions and certainly was a cult fave for those who watched late night tv and HBO. In the US, in the 1990s the series started airing on CBS TV late night, which increased the group’s fan base. This led to the film Brain Candy, which didn’t have much success at the box office but became a cult fave.
In recent years, the group has reformed, but its the early days of The Kids in the Hall that is quintessentially funny and oh so Canadian.
For kids in Canada in the 1970s, they soon woke up to their own show – starring Miss Fran on Romper Room.
Created in the United States in 1953, the show’s focus on preschoolers, those who were five and younger, was new to the television airwaves.
The first shows aired nationally in the US were hosted by Miss Nancy, but soon the show was syndicated locally. In Canada, the first version appeared in Windsor, for the Detroit and Windsor tv market starring Miss Ardis and Miss Flora.
Other cities such as Halifax, Saint John, Hamilton, Kelowna, Winnipeg, Barrie, Montreal and St. John’s created local versions of the popular show. But the show went national on CTV via CKCO TV in Kitchener Ontario with Miss Fran.
Miss Fran (Fran Pappert) would welcome kids (those watching and in person) with the Pop Goes the Weasel theme song and had Mr. Do Bee as well as the very popular Magic Mirror segment, where the host would call out kids names that she would see via the mirror.
Airing until 1992, Romper Room was the way so many Canadian kids started the day at 6:30am – it was 30 minutes of kid-friendly fun and silliness with a dash of education.
The beginning of the ’80s signalled a new Irish band that would top the charts for many years, but it all began with this: I Will Follow by U2.
The first single and lead track from their first album Boy, U2’s Bono wrote the song in memory of his Mum, who died when he was 14 years old.
Although not achieving chart status in the UK in 1980 when released, the single did hit the US, Canada, Dutch and Australian charts, when released consequently in 1981 and 1983.
But the single has become a notable one of the band, as its played at almost every live performance of the band since 1980, and is included in several of the concert films made by the band.
The single has become one of the key songs of U2 and a live favourite – listen to an 1980 version here, from the band’s big show at Red Rocks, which became a fan favourite video on MTV and MuchMusic.
This band has been successful for over three decades, with notable albums and massive world tours, but this first single from their first album lives on as a rock single that certainly doesn’t disappoint.