The Rise Of The Whitest White Kids U'Know
By Heather Corcoran
How many people can you offend in 30 minutes? Ask The Whitest Kids U’Know, five comedians who might claim the title of TV’s raciest act.
Over the past year, the sketch comedy troupe has turned its bar act into a cable cult favorite. They transcend Sarah Silverman at her naughtiest and channel the absurdity of Monty Python. And watch out, because they’re about to lose the censors when they land on a new network.
The second season of their eponymous show, which premiered Feb. 10, brings their junior high-style punch lines to the Independent Film Channel. The move to the IFC – the bigger, bawdier sister channel of their former network Fuse TV – means no more bleeps and no more commercials. It’s also a chance for the Kids to learn from their first-season mistakes.
This time around, after they watched some of their best-loved live sketches fall flat on TV, the Kids explore a more visual humor. It’s a return to their earliest days, when The Whitest Kids U’Know was an extracurricular club at the School of Visual Arts.
Trevor Moore, Zach Cregger and Sam Brown met in their Brooklyn dorm in 2000. Together they formed the core of The Whitest Kids U’Know: Trevor, the charismatic front man; Zach, the most versatile of the bunch; and Sam, with his dramatic flair and a penchant for accents. By 2003, the lineup was finalized with the addition of the cartoonish Timmy Williams and baby-faced actor Darren Trumeter.
Back then, they modeled their jokes on TV shows. But by the time they took over comedian David Cross’ Sunday-night slot at the Lower East Side bar Pianos, the Kids were focused on a more theatrical approach. Performing for crowds on a weekly basis, they practiced their way to the Best Sketch Award at the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival in 2006.
In their most popular sketch, “Slow Jerk,” the boyish Darren glares as he mimes masturbation. His coworkers’ reactions are as exaggerated as his movements. It’s one of the gags that survived the transition from stage to screen.
The skit made waves on the Internet, was passed around and viewed more than 2 million times. But, not all the sketches were so lucky.
Filming the “Slow Jerk” sketch in an office “made it all the more inappropriate,” said Sam, but without audience participation, other acts fizzled.
With one season on TV under their belts, the Kids are focusing more on setting and costumes now. They play with more elaborate stories and shoot scenes on location around the city.
“We love New York. We live here and that’s what we want the show to look like – New York,” said Timmy, before taking the stage for his weekly karaoke night at Pianos, the bar where they got their start. In homage to their roots, the bar even makes a cameo on the show – disguised as a strip club.
Though they honed their craft in downtown bars, it’s easy to see why the Kids have been a hit with the high school set. At live shows, instead of wearing costumes, they dress like overgrown children in hoodies, T-shirts, ripped jeans and sneakers.
There is something deliciously immature about their comedy, too. A recent live taping revived some of their most outrageous acts: a bestiality love triangle and a revised version of Abraham Lincoln’s last moments. Trevor rapped while the rest of the boys, in giant foam dinosaur masks, threw fake joints into the audience.
The button-pushing and gross-out gags are what hits audiences first. But beneath the surface of the Kids’ act are echoes of comedy hits like the surreal, gender-bending Kids in the Hall.
With the IFC series, the Whitest Kids U’Know have their own shot at breaking into the mainstream. They may even achieve the iconic status of acts like the Kids in the Hall, thanks in part to the artsy, more grown-up crowd that the IFC brings. Don’t ask them to take it too seriously, though.
“I’m just glad that people will maybe think about our poop jokes. And be like, ‘Is there more to this poop joke?’” said Sam, over birch beer at Pianos.
“I’ve always wanted to do television that will get seen by people in turtlenecks,” added Timmy, his round, oversized eyes filling with mock seriousness. “And now, that will happen.”