A Beginner’s Guide to “Letterkenny,” The Most Quotable Show on Television
The Canadian comedy’s tenth season is as hilariously vulgar as ever
One of the few good things to come out of quarantine was my discovery (and now devotion to) all things Letterkenny.
The comedy, which just launched its tenth season and is currently streaming on Hulu, is not for everyone. It’s 1) very Canadian 2) somehow both unapologetically crude and highly progressive at the same time and 3) full of rapid-fire, rhythmic dialogue that occasionally calls for closed captioning help.
Born out of a YouTube web series, Letterkenny follows the residents of a rural 5,000-person town up north, where most residents fall into one of three categories (Hicks, Skids and hockey players). Not much happens: the synopsis for this season’s third episode, “Dyck Meat,” was simply “The Hicks attend a sausage party. The hockey players and skids have a video game battle.”
[The Dycks here are a Mennonite family. Every single sentence uttered by patriarch Noah Dyke is a wildly inappropriate double entendre.]
The “main” characters in Letterkenny are Wayne (Jared Keeso, the show’s executive producer, creator and co-writer … and man most likely to be the next Wolverine, if the internet has its say), his sister Katy and friends Daryl and “Squirrelly” Dan, though almost every one of the dozens of characters has taken a lead role at some point.
We took a few minutes this month to speak with cast regulars Jacob Tierney (“Glen,” and also Executive Producer/Director/Co-Writer), K. Trevor Wilson (“Dan”) and Lisa Codrington (“Gail”) about how a Canadian show found love in the U.S., if the live version of the show is actually going to hit our shores as scheduled this spring and how “to be fair” became one of the show’s signature quotes.
Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er. [Side note: Letterkenny is also the best soundtracked show on television — season 10 has included tracks by Turnstile, Little Simz, Metronomy and Sunbeam Sound Machine]
The show found its success in a really roundabout way
Initially launched on the Canadian channel Crave in 2015, Letterkenny didn’t get a proper U.S. rollout until three years later … but it already had fans around the world. “It’s been funny how people have found us,” admits Wilson. “When we were only on Crave, we had fans in the States tape trading us like we were Japanese wrestling videos. I met a guy in Minnesota, he’d get CD-ROMs of the show burnt for him from a snowbird in Florida. We were also big with the military — we were part of the Canadian Armed Forces homesickness package. Soldiers overseas would trade tapes with other soldiers overseas. So early one we ended up with fans from Australia, New Zealand and the United States military.”
Like everything else, Covid affected the recent season
And for some of us, it was in good ways. “I think having nine seasons on when quarantine hit was good for some people,” says Tierney. Still, it did upend filming — seasons 10 and 11 were filmed together, and the current season 10 is only six episodes — and also forced their 2020 live tour to get cut short and rescheduled for this year. Hopefully. (“It’s up to Covid and the universe if this happens,” as Wilson admits.)
The actors are not that much like their show’s counterparts (which is probably for the best)
Given the exaggerated personalities on the show, it’s probably best that none of the actors are simply dialing it in. “In real life I’m gay and on the show Glen is engaged to a woman and a pastor, so those are two pretty big differences,” as Tierney notes. And while bar owner Gail might be the boldest person … well, ever … on a TV series (“Wanna 68? You go down on me, and I’ll owe you one”), the real-life actress Codrington admits she’s pretty different.
“The fun thing is to dive into a character very outside of myself,” she says. “It’s really my first time with comedy. I was always doing dramatic roles, like kids falling down wells kind of stuff.” If that career arc sounds strange, Wilson backs it up: “For actors, you do get weirdly typecast in Canada. In my teens, I was always typecast as the guy who picks on handicapped kids.”
“To be fair” and the show’s other memorable lines can be a curse
Without ruining too much, there are a few repeated lines in the show, the most memorable being an exaggerated haughty “to be fair.” Says Tierney: “That started off with Jared making fun of me for saying ‘to be fair,’ so now I really can’t say it at all.”
Wilson, whose character randomly adds “s” to random words, has it a bit better. “‘I appreciates’ is the one that come back to me,” he says. “And that’s a step up, because when people just knew me from when I did standup, they’d yell ‘penis’ at me.”
The show really has the most amazing dialogue
Picking a favorite quote from Letterkenny is impossible. But here’s five:
- “Well, there’s nothing better than a fart. Except kids falling off bikes, maybe. F-ck, I could watch kids fall off bikes all day, I don’t give a shit about your kids.“
- “We only got one shot at this. One chance. One win. You know? Vomit on your mom’s spaghetti, or whatever that talking singer says.”
- “I see the muscle shirt came today. Muscles coming tomorrow?”
- “Your mom just liked my Instagram post from 2 years ago in Puerto Vallarta. Tell her I’ll put my swim trunks on for her any time she likes.”
- “What’s up with your body hair, your big shoots? You look like a 12-year-old Dutch girl.”
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