Bruce McCulloch brings new show to Barrie International Comedy Festival

By Susan Doolan, Special to QMI Agency
The Barrie Examiner
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 7:00:21 EDT PM

He marks his first performance in Barrie with a new show he created, Young Drunk Punk, which is based on his life, growing up in Calgary through fatherhood to his “weird life” in Los Angeles.

“I spend a fair amount of time developing things in Hollywood and it feels like I want to rip off my shirt and jump on stage,” McCulloch said.

It is his most autobiographical solo show to date. Young Drunk Punk premiered in Toronto more than a year ago and it has since spawned a new TV series which will begin filming at the end of September with an air date of January 2015 on Rogers TV.

“The TV show is sort of based in 1980 in my punk years and the stage show is broader — more about relationship and you know, silly stuff,” said McCulloch, adding that he wrote a couple of songs with Brian Connelly, who also scored the music that underpins his narrative.

McCulloch describes Connelly as his “oldest friend in the world.

“A lot of the show is about growing up in Calgary and he was there with me so it’s really good to have him on stage,” he added.

McCulloch and Connelly have known each other since Grade 7.

Connelly was also in the Kids in the Hall house band. One of the most fun aspects of the show for McCulloch is changing it up, going off script so that Connelly has to adjust the score accordingly.

“It has some improv in there (and) I sometimes mess up and he has to figure it out,” said McCulloch, adding that how much he varies it depends on the evening.

The majority of what he does these days is creating and writing pilots for networks and films for studios, many of which never see the light of day. This show sprang from a desire to go back to his roots and reconnect with an audience.

Even though McCulloch maintains he is not an actor, he has recently appeared in episodes of Workaholics and the new season of Arrested Development.

Some film projects he has been involved in — written and/or directed — include Dog Park (starring Luke Wilson), Superstar (Molly Shannon and Will Ferrell), Stealing Harvard (Jason Lee and Leslie Mann) and Comeback Season (Ray Liotta).

He enjoys working and creating “stuff” and said it is his main source of fun. Yet, growing up, he didn’t know that he wanted to do.

“I was like a lot of young people. I was lost. I knew I wanted to do something, but I had no idea what,” he said. “I think that’s why I became a quote unquote punk, in the literal sense. I was searching, had rock music, drank and fought and somehow out of that, my little weird ideas, I wanted to be a writer.”

He credits Mark McKinney and the Loose Moose Theatre Company in Calgary for igniting it.

McCulloch has written and/or performed in several one-man shows prior to Young Drunk Punk. He still performs on occasion with Kids in the Hall; they like to tour every few years when schedules permit. He has also written his first book, Let’s Start a Riot, which will be released by Harper Collins this fall.

McCulloch likes to come back to Toronto for a month every summer for his two children, age seven and nine. He and fellow Canadian Tracey Ryan have been together for the past 16 years, married for 11. She is an actor who was the voice of Duck in The Little Bear Movie and she played Nancy Drew in the television series.

Young Drunk Punk unfolds on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at Georgian Theatre, beginning at 8 p.m.

Tickets, with pre-performance dinner in Georgian Dining Room, are $125 plus HST. Performance-only tickets are $29 and $39 plus HST and service fee, available at the box office, 705-739-4228 or 705-792-1949.

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