Sketchfest Review: Bruce McCulloch: The Pink Dot Diaries, Knuckles & Tits at Eureka Theater, 1/21/12

by Dakin Hardwick on January 22, 2012

The Kids In The Hall have been having a difficulty time of things when they’ve come through our town on solo projects. Last year, Dave Foley did a solo stand up set at Cobb’s, and, well, it was a bit messy. Later last year, Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald played a set at Free Comedy Day that was also less than well received. Although, yes, I am a fan of classic Kids In The Hall, I was a little apprehensive about McCulloch’s set on the second night of Sketchfest. But, I still made me way through the Friday night rain to see what he’s been up to.

We were treated with an opening set by comedy duo Knuckles & Tits. They were a male/female duo, and were definitely influenced by the Kids In The Hall brand of stream of consciousness, surreal humor. I felt that they may have done a little too much relationship humor, but they were quite enjoyable, and were definitely worth showing up early for.

The staging was simple. There was an electric piano on one side if the stage, and a desk with a lamp, a notebook, and a tea cup on it. McCulloch casually sat down, looking as young as did back in the Kids In The Hall days. He began his set by discussing the “quality” of recent Kids In The Hall live shows, and seemed generally a bit embarrassed about them. In not so many words, he apologized for their last San Francisco performance, and then attempted to explain the reasoning behind the show. He said that he really wanted to be part of Sketchfest this year, and made up the name of the show in order to pretend to have an actual show ready. Based on the quality of the performance, I had a hard time believing that this wasn’t an actual, prepared set.

McCulloch was solid. He alternated between telling stories and tossing about absurdisms. Sometimes it was hard to tell what was truth and fictions. Yes, he pulled no punches when discussing former co-workers. He seemed to be very happy about his wife and family. But, most of all, he proved that he still “has it.” Every once in a while, he performed a humorous song along with his accompanist, Marc Capelle. He ranted about various different musicians for a bit, and when he mentioned Kate Bush, Capelle began playing a muted version of “Wuthering Heights” on trumpet.

There were even a few personal, serious moments that almost caught you off guard. He did about 10 minutes on the passing of his father, and you could tell he was trying hard to hold back the tears. It’s always moving to see a performer express genuine emotion on stage, but, to quote Smokey Robinson, “Ain’t too much sadder than the tears of a clown.”

McCulloch was in probably the finest form of his career, and I hope he makes many more trips to the Bay Area in the future. He may end up being the one that will carry on the Kids In The Hall legacy for years to come.

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