Due to the heavier workload, Keeso and his co-writer and director Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) have called in reinforcements. Actor and comedian Jonathan Torrens, who made an indelible mark as J-Roc on Trailer Park Boys, has come aboard, along with Jesse McKeown, a writer for Keeso’s other gig, the police drama 19-2, as well as spy drama The Romeo Section.
“We have a very, very similar sense of humour,” Keeso said. “We’ve got outlines done and these scripts are definitely going to measure up.”
And while there’s nothing Christmasy about the episodes being released on the 25th, Keeso said there will “almost certainly” be a future Letterkenny Christmas special.
“But we need an hour for it. Christmas is a very important event in Listowel and I’d want to do it justice there. Like St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween, I think there’d be a ton of booze ingested (in the episode).”
Keeso, who besides playing a beat cop on 19-2 is known for portraying Don Cherry in two miniseries, counts himself lucky to have found his way to a comedy series. He said Canadian actors tend to get designated as either drama or comedy players without much room to manoeuvre around those labels.
“What we focus on in Letterkenny is actors earning their jobs in the audition room,” he said.
With Beirnes’s blessing, Keeso and actor and comedian Nathan Dales — a Calgary native whom Keeso met when they both worked at the same bar in Vancouver — turned Listowel Problems into the YouTube sketches Letterkenny Problems.
Whereas two of Keeso’s and Dales’s other YouTube ventures, play-on-words sketches involving the names of NHL and Blue Jays players, stalled at about 10,000 views each, Letterkenny Problems accumulated millions of hits.
Keeso’s Wayne and his fellow “hick” Daryl (Dales) made the leap to the TV series, where they wage mostly verbal battles in rapid-fire, often profane dialogue with the “skids” and “hockey players” in town.
When Keeso was in high school, “the hicks were the toughest, they usually fought the skids,” he said.
He wasn’t a street fighter, unlike his character Wayne.
“I was too busy getting beat up all over the Western and Midwestern Junior B (hockey) league,” he said. “I was kind of one of those guys who got punched in the face once (on the ice), realized it wouldn’t kill him and then just started answering the bell every time it came.”
Letterkenny can be seen as the heir apparent to the likes of SCTV’s “McKenzie Brothers,” Trailer Park Boys and Corner Gas. It shares the penchant of all three for self-deprecating humour that relies on quirks of characterization more than plot.
Keeso agrees wholeheartedly when reminded that Canadians are good at making fun of themselves. And laughing at themselves too, judging from the approval the series gets in Listowel, population just shy of 9,000, where Keeso still has friends.
“I like to say that the biggest Letterkenny fans on planet Earth are in Listowel,” he said. “I think maybe Mom’s only heard one backhanded comment at the bank or something like that.”
Besides, he did two pilot seasons in Los Angeles and “It was really my own personal hell. I can’t stand it down there.”
“It shouldn’t be hot all the time … I don’t like that. I like the cold,” he said.
“As soon as you walk out the door you’re awake. I see my dog play in the snow. I can appreciate a really nice, warm winter jacket.”