Queen West landmark the Rivoli honours Kids in the Hall with plaque

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Queen West landmark the Rivoli honours Kids in the Hall with plaque

Amidst all the promotion for their eight episode Amazon Prime revival series featuring characters new and old as well as the aptly-titled documentary “Comedy Punks” also streaming on Amazon Prime on May 20, Bruce McCulloch was in Toronto Friday for the unveiling of a plaque memorializing the Rivoli as a spiritual birthplace for The Kids in the Hall, Canada’s celebrated comedy troupe that also includes Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson.

“Without this place I don’t think we would have found our way because we just didn’t know how to do it. We were trying to be at different theatres, the Poor Alex Theatre … we rented it and lost money. Somehow we found this place, and I don’t think without it and the kind of odd people that eventually inhabited it as an audience I don’t think we would have formed and found our people. So yeah, it’s a big deal to us” he explained in a Zoom call.

Besides comedy, music, well punk to be precise was “part of the reason I wanted to come to Toronto, because of all the great music that was here. The Viletones, the Demics, all those bands.”

Queen West and the Rivoli became a magnet for wide-eyed transplants such as McCulloch in the 80s.

“The waitresses were so cool, with their leather aprons. Because we were sort of punks, they would just give us big stacks of bread ’cause they knew we didn’t have any money. That place was the centre of my universe, our universe. Not just because of The Kids in the Hall but before The Kids in the Hall.”

If there is anyone besides the Kids themselves who understands the importance of the Rivoli, it’s the man who literally wrote the book on them. “The Rivoli was a nexus point between the Toronto indie music scene, the OCAD arts and fashion communities, and the burgeoning Toronto alternative sketch comedy scene,” explained author and former Gravelberrys frontman Paul Myers. “I had met Dave and Kevin while we all took classes at the Second City workshops and I used to play my music in bands at the Rivoli. I also spent many laugh-filled evenings witnessing the nascent Kids in the Hall. In my book ‘Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy’ I actually open with a story about trudging through a historically harsh Toronto blizzard just so I wouldn’t miss one of their residency shows at the Rivoli.”

In reminiscing, McCulloch also recounted a time when “a critic at the Toronto Star (and I won’t name his name), he wanted to do an article on us but he didn’t think we were ready yet. And then it’s like he wanted to do something on us, but we weren’t ready yet. … And then lo and behold Lorne Michaels sends us to New York and we’re doing a nine-page article in Rolling Stone. I just thought that’s kind of Canadian show biz! … sometimes we don’t know what we got, and I don’t even mean us, I mean other great artists y’know?”

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Credit: Queen West landmark the Rivoli honours Kids in the Hall with plaque