Sunday is a big day for television, and I’m not just talking about the Super Bowl. Yes, the annual gridiron slugfest is happening for the 50th time, but it’s also the day Letterkenny lands on CraveTV.
The Canadian comedy, created by Canadian Screen Award winner Jared Keeso, debuts all six episodes Sunday at 9 a.m. ET, offering a slice of homegrown comedy we haven’t seen since, well, ever. Letterkenny is an amped-up Corner Gas, a hilarious, expletive-filled romp around the small town of Letterkenny, where the hicks, skids and hockey players butt heads when they’re not busy taking the piss out of their own cliques. Keeso stars as Wayne, a squint-eyed, burly fellow who hurls rapid-fire insults at anyone who comes into his space. His buddy, Daryl (Nathan Dales) is capable of trading barbs too; in the first episode, “Ain’t No Reason to Get Excited,” they double-team hockey players Jonesy (Dylan Playfair) and Reilly (Andrew Herr), out-insulting the pair with awe-inspiring turns of phrase.
“It’s really hard not to crack up during filming,” Dales said during a set visit to Sudbury, Ont., last year. “I can’t look Jared in the eyes because if I do I know I’ll break.”
Letterkenny the TV series evolved from Letterkenny Problems. Spurred by Keeso’s urge to create his own characters, Wayne and Daryl became Internet stars, racking up millions of views on YouTube. Television production companies came calling and Keeso, soon to be seen in Season 3 of 19-2 on Bravo, teamed with New Metric Media. After pitching it around to networks, Bell Media signed on. One of the biggest challenges for Keeso was turning a two-minute webisode into 30 minutes of television.
“I used the same formula to write the series as I did the web series,” Keeso said. “Character arc and continuing story are not my strong point as a writer. I tried to get as many laughs on a second-to-second basis as possible.” He turned to executive producer, director and co-writer Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) for help finding the characters’ voices, though some script work was altered on the fly as the actors began reciting the lines.
In addition to hicks Wayne and Daryl are Wayne’s younger sister Katy (Michelle Mylett) and Wayne’s buddy, Dan (K. Trevor Wilson), the aforementioned hockey players and the skids, represented by Stewart (Tyler Johnston) and Devon (Alexander De Jordy). Rounding out the key characters are bartender Gail (Lisa Codrington) and Christian leader Glenn (Jacob Tierney).
Dales is still pinching himself over the fact something he and Keeso filmed over two years ago has grown into a television series. He recalled thinking Letterkenny Problems might have some legs because the guys in the crew were cracking up, but had no inkling a television series would be the result.
“I had no idea that, fast-forward, I would be in Sudbury making a TV show with my buddies,” he said at the time. “That people would pay us to come here, shoot on location and we’d have a great time.”
Season 1 of Letterkenny is available Sunday, Feb. 7, on Crave TV. It will be broadcast on The Comedy Network later this year.
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