Letterkenny is on Hulu — Pitter Patter, get at ‘er!
The show continues Canada’s long tradition of exporting the best comedy to the US of Eh — so, “figger it oot.”
The show continues Canada’s long history of exporting the best comedy to the US of Eh — so, “figger it oot.”
I will admit that seeing trailers on Hulu for the Canadian show Letterkenny left me perplexed at first…and then cranky. I didn’t get it. One guy (Wayne, played by Jared Keeso, the shows creator) standing in a field laying down some kind of stilted rhythmic slam poetry of sorts didn’t register with me.
From the trailer, I couldn’t determine what the show was about (or aboot). However, looking to ignore all the political nonsense that is continuing to swallow up the US of Eh. I had a dire need of a distraction and I figured with eight seasons, if I liked it, I’d have that distraction so I dove in.
Distraction found — I didn’t like Letterkenny, I f’ing loved it.
I’ve cycled through all eight seasons and have circled back for a repeat.
The stories of Wayne, Daryl, Dan and Katy and the rag-tag group of the other characters in Letterkenny, Ontario is without fail one of the funniest shows I’ve seen. The last time I recall laughing so hard was when a friend suggested I watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia years ago.
And like IASIP, Seinfeld and Family Guy, I find pure joy in watching Letterkenny and how this group of people navigates life, peppering the dialog with loads of Canadian colloquialisms.
So, yes, they all have the Canadian accent. A part of me believes that it’s exaggerated here to accentuate the humor. And while there are many Canadian-isms in the show that don’t always translate, if you’re paying attention you can contextualize it and find the humor.
The four principals characters are:
Wayne — hick and the “toughest guy in Letterkenny”. There may be those who would say he is “on the spectrum” but that’s nonsense — those people need to check their armchair diagnostic political correctness at the door and enjoy the humor.
Katy — Wayne’s attractive younger sister who is sexually free. Full of just as much punch as any of the men.
Daryl — Wayne’s childhood friend and right-hand man. aka Dairy.
Dan — the big lovable galoot. Perhaps one of the more subtle and funnier characters. He constantly pluralizes words that shouldn’t be creating his own sort of hybrid verbiage. He apparently has exhausted his friends because no one corrects him. A running joke with Dan is that he is in what can only be described as an endless Woman’s Studies class.
The peripheral characters are equally as funny, Meth Head Stewart, Hockey Jocks Riley and Jonesy, Bar Owner Gail, Minister Glen, Fellow Farmer McMurray, and his wife, etc. Also like IASIP, Seinfeld and Family Guy —
The sum is greater than the parts.
Since the show is Canadian, there is a fair amount of denim, flannel and a fair amount of drinking (Puppers Beer and Gus n’ Bru Canadian Whiskey). Unusually, there is a lot of smoking of cigarettes.
The subtleties of Canadian humor are also here. There isn’t always the set-up and punchline…and that works to the shows advantage. This also isn’t in your face, “laugh at this” type of humor. There is no laugh track, so you’re free to laugh at whatever you find funny. And I can say on my second run-through, there is A LOT to laugh at.
Sometimes there is a steady stream of rapid-fire puns and those work more often than they don’t. At others, the dialog and action are simply silly, with plenty of callbacks to jokes in other episodes or seasons. There’ s a lot packed into this little gem of a show from north of the border.
The show isn’t overly sexual. There is a fair amount of talk about it, but just the tiniest bits of showing it. However, there is a lot of fighting. Since Wayne is “the toughest man in Letterkenny”, he is always being put tot he test. The only real reason the fighting works is that it’s used as a bonding ritual in the show. More than once you’ll see Wayne fight someone, win, and then help them up or offer them a beer.
The fighting almost serves to clear the air.
Now, to be fair-ah (you’ll have to watch the show to get that reference), I loathe toilet humor. I find it reductive and cheap. And Letterkenny has its fair share of fart and poop jokes. Sometimes they work and I can find the humor, sometimes not so much. Nonetheless, it’s not enough to repel me.
Those jokes do work when the character of hockey phenom Shoresy pops up. He relentlessly hurls insults at everyone, but mostly Riley and Jonesy (about their mothers) from either a shower or toilet stall. It’s ridiculous…and very funny.
Letterkenny was created by Keeso and is primarily written by Keeso and Jacob Tierney (who plays Minister Glen). The shows joke to dialog humor is high and the show is so well written you’ll almost want to take notes. And in the event you need a Canadian slang translator, the internet has that for you.
The show isn’t revolutionary but it is very well crafted…and creating well crafted comedy these days is no easy task.
Don’t let the seeming simplicity of the characters fool you, the comedy is both subtle and rich.
It’s fare deeper than it appears. At times they skewer shows like America’s Got Talent and Shark Tank and in one episode are absolutely relentless on the characteristics of someone living in Los Angeles…it’s priceless and will probably anger anyone who lives in LA. Letterkenny even addresses abortion, Native Canadian’s rights, women’s rights, etc.
On the sillier side, there is also a later episode with Wayne and Katy’s Mennonite neighbors, the Dyck’s (pronounced “dick”) which is cringe-worthy. It’s loaded with sexually derivative and just awful puns…and one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t help but think of Archer’s Sterling Archer yelling: “PHRASING!”
At the end of the day, it’s the bond of community and a sense of family that drives Letterkenny. There is no real blood family structure to the show — no parents, aunts or uncles…only Gail’s cousin Rosie. The Letterkenny family is the community itself.
And like any family, you’ve got all sorts of characters and they’re not always going to get along. They’ll fight among themselves, that’s fair game…BUT if an outsider comes in and disrupts or threatens the community, they will circle the wagons around the usurper.
After all, in Letterkenny and on Letterkenny, they’re family.
If it doesn’t register after one or two episodes, give it a couple more. It takes a couple of episodes to find the rhythm of the show. Once you find the show's groove, I suspect you’ll find it funny AF.
The list of exceptional Canadian comedy exports is simply too long to list and we can add Letterkenny to that list.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how good the music is too. The Letterkenny soundtrack proves that rock and roll is alive.
“Pitter patter, get at ‘er.”