As a Dave, I had to ask comedian/actor/writer/musician Bruce McCulloch if he's sick of journalists named Dave riffing in interviews off "The Daves I Know," the catchy, goofy ditty he wrote for cult Canadian sketch-comedy TV show The Kids in the Hall. "Not necessarily journalists... just maybe humans in general," he says with a laugh. "But at least somebody knows something about me."
Now 58, McCulloch has risen to serious heights in television and film through a razor-sharp instinct for the hilarious and the ridiculous. The Kids in the Hall put him on the cultural map in the late 1980s, and he's remained there ever since with stints writing for Saturday Night Live, roles in the movies Brain Candy and Super Troopers 2, two music LPs (Shame-Based Man and Drunk Baby Project), and a memoir, 2014's Let's Start a Riot: How a Young Drunk Punk Became a Hollywood Dad.
Now McCulloch is on the road with a new one-man show called Tales of Bravery and Stupidity. It will be part stand-up, part storytelling, some music, and what he calls "funnier observational stuff." Which begs the question, though: What's the stupidest thing McCulloch has done? "I've done a lot of stupid things," he admits. "The show is filled with them. But I don't tell of the time I went into Oprah Winfrey's dressing room and asked her to play a maid when I was at Saturday Night Live. I think that's one of the stupidest things I've done. And she had all these people from the NAACP with her, and they just all stared at me. I did a character called Cancer Boy and insisted it stay in our film [Brain Candy], which kind of killed the movie. That was pretty stupid, but it was also brave, right? Those are the kind of things I've been dining out on my entire life."
So then: What's the bravest thing he's done? "It's not brave in the classic sense of saving a heroine from a burning building, but brave in its ridiculousness," McCulloch says. "I always text my wife 'Allahu Akbar' before I take off on a plane, like the terrorists did. Just as our funny joke, right? And I got seen doing it by a WestJet attendant. I had to explain I was funny, and they weren't sure I was. That's not brave, but doing weird stuff, which I've been accused of in my life, just to create new material. I also throw myself into the middle of situations that I should never be in. That's part of the belly of the show."
McCulloch says that a key aspect of Tales of Bravery and Stupidity is humanism. "It's always been a part of my work, but people didn't see it when I was younger. Now as I'm getting older, I'm allowing it out more. It is my love for how frustrating and beautiful and stupid we all are. I'm obsessed with people's stories. I'm odd, but I think I'm a closet humanist."
What you won't find in McCulloch's act is parody, even though he admits there are many good examples of it. "It doesn't spring from your soul; it springs from 'I'm gonna change a word,' and now that's gonna be a parody. It's just my taste. I love the idea that you've never thought of."