‘Letterkenny’ back on Hulu with hilarious, crude tales of small-town Canadian life
Ten seasons in, “Letterkenny” still hasn’t found a character it can’t make fun of.
The cult favorite comedy, which returned recently on Hulu, thrived first as a YouTube series, then on video-streaming platform Crackle, as a quick-witted, quicker-tongued slice-of-life story of a tiny Canadian town of 5,000 people where everyone knows everything.
“It’s unapologetically itself,” K. Trevor Wilson, the 40-year-old stand-up comedian who plays Squirrely Dan. “It’s not trying to be any other show. It doesn’t bend or flow with the trends. It is what it is what it is."
What it is, is a peek at people getting by: the hicks (farmers), the hockey players, the skids (druggies) and the natives from the reservation up the road.
At the center is Wayne (creator Jared Keeso), his sister Katy (Michelle Mylett) and two best friends, Squirrely Dan (Wilson) and Dary (Nathan Dales). For large chunks of episodes, they sit outside at their fruit stand, on wooden crates and a beach lounge chair, just talking.
“It’s small town life. It’s this no-(expletive)-given energy,” Mylett, 32, said.
“People roast each other. They can’t take themselves too seriously because if they do, they’ll get roasted even more. But at the same time, there’s this unwritten code of ethics in this small community: you don’t kick someone when they’re down.”
Usually the villains come from outside Letterkenny — such as their French-speaking doppelgangers from Quebec who ruin a fishing trip, or Katy’s slimy ex-boyfriend.
Residents of Letterkenny — which is based on Keeso’s hometown of Listowel, Ontario — have a sense of loyalty, even when they drive each other bonkers.
“Letterkenny” is good-spirited. Even the cruelest jokes are well-meaning, aimed only at subjects who can not just take it but give it back just as good.
Each season, Mylett joked, Keeso and co-creator Jacob Tierney try to one-up the last with faster jokes, wordier tongue twisters, and more obscure references to the backwoods of Canada.
The cold opens take on a “Game of Thrones”-themed rap, a litany of wrestling references, the worst use of the word “moist” and just how disgusting the urinals at the local bar are.
Some of the most confusing language of all comes from the hot dummy hockey players, Reilly (Dylan Playfair) and Jonesy (Andrew Herr).
More often than not, they forget which one’s which, and which girl they’re supposed to be wooing. It takes a lot of rehearsal, Herr said, tossing their ridiculous, rapid-fire slang back and forth.
On set the day after an award show several seasons ago, Herr said, he and Playfair were slower than usual, dragging the fast-paced dialogue to a halt. When they can’t keep up, everyone notices.
Wilson has given up on memorizing his lines, due to Keeso’s tendency to change up or even throw out his own scripts just before filming. Now, he laughed, he just learns “the gist” of the scene and waits for the final version of his speeches.
Above all, “Letterkenny” just tells simple stories about the simple residents of a simple town.
“You roast the ones that you love,” Wilson said. “That’s part of the joy of it, and that’s something you have to do in comedy: you have to take yourself down a few pegs before you take anything else down.”
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