Michelle Faye

Young Drunk Punk revisits Calgary of the ’80s

By Jason Herring, February 5 2015 —

Set in Calgary in 1980, Young Drunk Punk, the new sitcom from Kids in the Hall’s Bruce McCulloch, tackles the aimlessness  many young people feel as they transition from high school into the world.

Since McCulloch spent his youth in Calgary, the show is a nostalgic look at what Calgary was like 35 years ago.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the Calgary from 1980 is gone,” McCulloch says. “There’s no seminal punk clubs. There’s been so many booms in Calgary that a lot of that is gone. One of the challenges of the show was trying to cobble together what Calgary was like in my mind because a lot of it doesn’t exist anymore.”

Most of the show was filmed in the southeast community of Queensland, but some scenes were shot at recognizable locations such as Nick’s Steakhouse and Chicken on the Way.

Young Drunk Punk stars Tim Carlson as Ian McKay, a freshly graduated punk fan who is cynical about his future. Joining Ian is his best friend and partner-in-crime Shinky (Atticus Mitchell), who is quick to jump into fights.

Ian and Shinky consider themselves unique. A lot of their arrogance comes from their love of punk music. McCulloch says that Ian’s character is not entirely modeled after himself, but that he’s “an intersection of what I felt at that age and what [Tim] felt at that age, which is restless.”

“At that age the way you define yourself is through your music, and all these people around me were sheep,” McCulloch says. “You don’t really know what you’re doing and you don’t know how to find your friends, so music is kind of a short route to embrace someone or preclude someone.”

The show explores the youthful desire to be anywhere but where they are, an experience that McCulloch describes as a rite of passage.

“It’s really about finding yourself. It’s not about the city you’re in,” he explains. “I think you have to go somewhere to kind of allow yourself to define yourself at a certain age. You can blame the city because it’s easier than blaming yourself.”

Though the show is set in a different era, McCulloch believes young adults can still relate to it.

“Being lost in every generation feels the same,” he says. “I think it’s a little harder now in some weird way, even though it feels like there’s the Internet to find like-minded people, but ‘where do I fit into this world’ is the scream that’s always come from this [age group].”

In addition to creating and directing the show, McCulloch plays Ian’s father, Lloyd, whose greatest pride is his job as the security director for his community.

Young Drunk Punk started as an autobiographical theatre piece that McCulloch was touring in which he told stories about growing up in Canada.

“TV producers [saw the act] and said that the flavour about you growing up in the West would be a really cool TV show, and I just thought, no, it would not!” he jokes.

Young Drunk Punk airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CityTV.

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