Letterkenny: The Canadian Hockey Comedy Powerhouse

There is a small fictional enclave north of the Canadian border called Letterkenny, Ontario. It is home to “hicks, skids, hockey players and Christians,” and as the show’s title card informs us, we are about to hear “their problems.” Well, Letterkenny’s problems are our belly laughs because this Canadian sitcom is amazing. Letterkenny is an entirely made up Canadian town, but in reality, it could be any small town in Canada and even the northern US. The show revolves around four characters, a brother and sister, Wayne and Katie, and their friends Dale and “Squirrelly Dan” as they sell produce from their family farm and live their daily lives in Letterkenny. Their caricatures of rural life that are so spot on that it’s easy to identify with the characters and their problems if you’ve lived in a small town. Though uses much of the morally questionable behavior that shows like “Workaholics” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” to great effect, it is uniquely Canadian, because no matter how antagonistic things become between the residents of Letterkenny, politeness and a feeling of community always prevail. Some of you might ask why I’m writing about this on a hockey website, and the answer to that is easy. It’s a Canadian show and it relies heavily on the hockey culture as a comedic device.” Two of the show’s characters, “Reilly” and “Jonesy” are two young hockey players trying to make their names in the junior hockey ranks. Unfortunately for “Reilly” and Jonesy," they are described as “Posers,” that, “just like the hockey player lifestyle,” which enables the show to lampoon the “hockey player lifestyle” to perfection. With “Reilly and Jonesy” Letterkenny takes the stereotypical “hockey bro” and ratchets him up to a ridiculous and hilarious level. If you are familiar with the terms “Clapper” or “Wheel, Snipe, Celly” get ready to add a lot more hockey slang to your vernacular. “Crushing Sandos” and “Fer da boys” are two of many ridiculous phrases parroted to each other by Reilly and Jonesy. This may be the best example. In this scene, Reilly and Jonesy talk about the stigma of players using hockey bags with wheels attached and conspire to injure their own teammates in practice. They speak slang that only a lifelong hockey player can truly understand, but with chemistry and delivery that can make anyone laugh.

The language and lifestyle of the hockey bro aren’t the only reasons hockey fans will enjoy Letterkenny. The practice of “Chirping” is one of Letterkenny’s best traits. Hockey players, “skids” and “hicks” alike skewer each other with creative and witty insults in almost every episode. (This is an example from the youtube series that inspired the show, but the one-liners are just as good)

Or the cold open from the show’s first episode.

Within the hockey scenes, it’s clear the that shows creators Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney, are massive fans of the sport. The show features references which avid hockey fans may recognize, I’d almost call them easter eggs. One popular trash talk line occurs repeatedly throughout the show. It stems from an actual insult hurled from Pittsburgh Penguins players toward Brian Bellows, of the Minnesota North Stars back in the early nineties.

Even the culture of fighting within the show seems inspired by the sport of hockey. Fights are conducted as a way to maintain a pecking order and as violent as they are, they’re also very polite and fair.

It kind of reminds me of this fight between Georges Laraque and Raitis Ivanins.

Letterkenny isn’t just some popular youtube video. Although the show is based on a popular youtube series, in the show’s two seasons airing in Canada, they have racked up a number of accolades. This past weekend, Letterkenny won the Canadian Screen Award for best comedy. The show’s premiere was the most-watched program in the history of CraveTV, the service which streams the show. I mention all of this to say that I am not the only one who loves this show. It’s wildly popular in Canada. One can only hope that a network like HBO or Showtime will notice this show and use it to re-engage their Westbound and Down fans with Letterkenny’s raunchy yet kind-hearted nature and spread this show’s popularity within the US because it’s not just “Hicks, Skids and Hockey Players” that will love this show, it’s everyone.

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