This Is a Book About the Kids in the Hall - ECW Press

This Is a Book About the Kids in the Hall

Semley, John

  • The first book to explore their history, legacy, and influence

    This is a book about the Kids in the Hall — the legendary Canadian sketch comedy troupe formed in Toronto in 1984 and best known for the innovative, hilarious, zeitgeist-capturing sketch show The Kids in the Hall — told by the people who were there, namely the Kids themselves. John Semley’s thoroughly researched book is rich with interviews with Dave Foley, Mark McKinney, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, and Scott Thompson, as well as Lorne Michaels and comedians speaking to the Kids’ legacy: Janeane Garofalo, Tim Heidecker, Nathan Fielder, and others. It also turns a critic’s eye on that legacy, making a strong case for the massive influence the Kids have exerted, both on alternative comedy and on pop culture more broadly.

    The Kids in the Hall were like a band: a group of weirdoes brought together, united by a common sensibility. And, much like a band, they’re always better when they’re together. This is a book about friendship, collaboration, and comedy — and about clashing egos, lost opportunities, and one-upmanship. This is a book about the head-crushing, cross-dressing, inimitable Kids in the Hall.


    Price may vary by retailer

    Also available at your local independent bookstore!



    John Semley is a writer living in Toronto. His work has appeared in The Believer, The New York Times Magazine, Salon, Esquire, The A.V. Club, The Walrus, Reader’s Digest, and a whole bunch of other magazines, newspapers, and websites. He is a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, and the Toronto Star.


  • Published: October 2016

    ISBN: 9781770413054

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 312


“Finally! The Kids in the Hall gets the book their legendary body of work deserves. Just like its subject matter, This Is a Book About the Kids in the Hall is funny, insightful, freewheeling, and strangely touching.” – Tom Scharpling, host of the The Best Show

“I liked this book so much. I love reading behind-the-scenes dissections of what makes comedy groups work, and I kind of can’t believe there wasn’t one about the Kids already. Now there is one, and it’s delightful! Thank god!” — Mallory Ortberg, author of Texts from Jane Eyre

“The personal and interpersonal troubles, network struggles, failures, and triumphs of The Kids in the Hall make the reading absolutely compulsive.” — Psychobabble

“Excellent.” — National Post

"Turns out Semley's monograph is as good as its subject deserves. There's not much new to offer outline-wise, but Semley colours in and shades the broad strokes in such a way that makes the Kids' story more vivid than it's yet been, elevating the usual historical bullet points with blessed context. . . Semley's subtle triumph here is his acute humour." —

"This book will absolutely deliver . . . It's like a book written about the Beatles, such is the level of detail, and lore, and intricate story building from author John Semley." — Splitsider

“Neither book [Paul Myers’ The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy and This is a Book About the Kids in the Hall] reads like a nostalgia piece or as a look back at a bygone era of comedy; they both seek to answer the question of why the Kids remain relevant when most comedy of the same period, Canadian or otherwise, is forgotten . . . This is a Book About the Kids in the Hall, while drawing on the author's own oral history of the Kids, mixes in more personal analysis of their comedy style . . . [which is] at times more tonally appropriate for a book about comedy.” — Literary Review of Canada

“Head-crushingly good! Semley has written an immensely readable exploration of one of the architects of contemporary comedy.” — Nathan Rabin, columnist, author of You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me

“Semley's comprehensive and engagingly written book will appeal primarily to fans of the Kids and also those interested in the history of the comedy scene of the 1980s and 1990s.” — Library Journal

This is A Book About the Kids in the Hall is a book that fans of the troupe, whether you watched their TV show, caught one of their stage shows – and yes, even saw "Brain Candy" – will find as the authoritative story of how five diverse Canadian comedians joined forces to set the gold standard of what modern sketch comedy should be like.” — Montreal Times

“Exhaustively researched and wonderfully written . . . In his in-depth analysis and really colourful, funny writing, Semley brings fans into the psyche of these 'five losers,' as McCulloch once called them.” — Globe and Mail

“I recommend any self-respecting KITH fan snap it up all the same, lest he or she risk a well-deserved head-crushing.” — Flick Attach blog

“Simply put, if you are a Kids in the Hall fan, this is a must-read. Even if you are not a fan (gasp) of the legendary convention-shattering comedians, John Semley's exhaustively researched book offers unique insight into the landscape of the Canadian comedy scene of the ’80s and ’90s. . . . A candid, tour-de-force effort that leaves the reader with a real sense of the personalities of each Kid.” — Scene Magazine