Throughout their opening-night set at Cobb's, Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald worried that they were rusty because they had been off stage for two weeks. The reunited members of Canadian sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall separated some of their time into mini solo sets. Thompson chided himself for doing the material he intended to do in his second set first, while McDonald issued a disclaimer that he was a "sketch comedian attempting stand-up." They repeatedly mentioned they had the luck for this to be the night their show -- Two Kids, One Hall -- was reviewed.
Such perfectionism and self-deprecation might be easier matched to television sketch comedy, for which they're both known, where it's possible to rewind the tape and start over. But they needn't have fretted so much; Thompson and McDonald were both at their best when they didn't judge themselves so harshly -- and Thompson especially when he took on harsh topics.
One of those topics was cancer. Cancer is anything but hilarious, but we laughed with Thompson as he candidly shared unpleasant -- but not unfunny -- details of his battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, now in remission. One of the side effects of chemo, for instance, was growing (as he called it) "tits."
"That's why I just don't give a fuck about what I say up here," he said. "What are you gonna do? You're not cancer!" It was probably cathartic for at least a few in the audience. It also made the performance feel more intimate. He also spent a lot of time talking about race and having a lot of fun with his mother's maiden name, Coon -- again making lighthearted moments out of heavy topics.
McDonald provided a counterbalance and spent more time in the realm of physical comedy, at one point serving up a series of awesome funny faces.
In the end, the sketch comedians who did stand-up couldn't resist dissolving into a bit of a faux battle sketch, which involved some scuffling on the ground in what McDonald called "shtick fighting." We miss seeing the Kids on television, but Thompson and McDonald are more engaging stage comedians than they think they are -- their very lack of arrogance makes them all the more endearing.