As a member of the Kids in the Hall, Bruce McCulloch has a pretty rock-solid claim on being a part of the most beloved comedy troupe to ever come out of Canada. As a writer and actor born in Edmonton and raised in Calgary, he’s also got a stake in being one his generation’s most successful Albertans. But, he says over the phone from Calgary, where he’s debuting his new show to the province he grew up in, Young Drunk Punk isn’t necessarily about formative years—it’s about taking stock of the man he’s been since, too.
“For me, the punk is literal, I suppose, but it’s also sort of figurative. You know, even in Hollywood—and I’ve been there a while—I don’t fit in,” he admits, with a certain amount of nervous energy. “Everywhere I’ve been, there’s always a little feeling of not fitting in.”
It’s the sort of admission that makes sense depending on where you draw your lines. McCulloch, who calls himself “half success story, half cautionary tale,” has always had a resolutely odd sensibility: even at the height of KITH’s popularity, he was making short films about sausage factories passed off as sketches; the years since have been spent on everything from left-field comedy albums to guest spots to directing SNL spin-off movies. In short, he’s been embraced enough to make a name, but been askew enough to never append the adjective “household” to it.
His career is a factor in Young Drunk Punk, but he goes a fair bit deeper than that. Beginning with his origins, he explores the various episodes in his life that have shaped him: from ironically wearing pyjamas as a sly kid to embracing them as an older dad — though his anecdotes, of course, are shot through with a sensibility that is part memoirist and part absurdist outsider, emphasis on the latter.
“A lot of the show is about how hard it is to have kids, but it’s not just—like, I hate people who go, ‘Having children is the most beautiful thing,’” he explains. “Of course it is, but who fucking wants to hear somebody say that? I’m a lot more interested in what we give up and what we get with it.”
He’s quite aware of both: his own rough childhood has always been in his comedy, occasionally stalking the edges but more often buried in a shallow grave right in the centre. It’s no wonder that a guy who never quite fit in among flesh and blood has grown up to still sometimes feel the same way.
“I essentially raised myself, and my whole life has kind of been about that,” he says. “So partly this is a show about outsiders, but partly it’s about family: the family I crawled out of and the family I made and the family we all are.”
That seems like a remarkably zen approach, and a fair bit wiser than any young drunk punk has any right to be.
“Oh, I try not to be wise on stage,” McCulloch says with an almost audible grin. “My stories are about the silly shit I’ve done, so it’s all, ‘Don’t do this.’”
Mon, Jan 27 (7:30 pm)
The Arden (St Albert), $30