Kenny and Spenny stop fighting

The friends known for humiliating each other go their separate ways

 

Kenny and Spenny stop fighting

On a shoestring budget, a Canadian show about two idiots (Hotz, left, and Rice) who take on crazy challenges became a hit | Showcase

“I don’t think there’s one bad episode, personally,” says Kenny Hotz, co-creator and co-star of Kenny vs. Spenny. “We did 88 episodes and there’s not one dud.” He and his colleague, Spencer Rice, have a reason to sound less than humble: when Showcase airs their show’s one-hour series finale on Dec. 23, they’ll go out after making the kind of international impact that most Canadian shows only dream of, including foreign remakes and a devoted Internet following (Hotz claims it’s “the most downloaded show in the history of Canada”). It’s the end of another paradox for Canadian TV: in an era when our TV shows were improving their production values to compete with the U.S., one of the biggest hits was a shoestring-budget show about two idiots who undertake challenges like “who can wear a dead octopus on their head the longest?”

That’s because Kenny vs. Spenny, which did 26 episodes for CBC before moving to Showcase for the rest of its run, was lucky or smart enough to offer something that other comedies didn’t. It came along at a time of what Hotz calls “the online explosion of people’s viewing content,” when the Internet and reality TV had made viewers less interested in traditional television storytelling. To fit these new tastes, the duo came up with what Hotz describes as “a reality sitcom,” a continuing series that used “elements of Tom Green and Jackass,” shows where real people did disgusting things on a regular basis. They combined that, Rice says, with their own training as old-fashioned comedians: “One thing that gets overlooked by our younger audiences is that Kenny and I are seasoned comedy guys. We grew up watching Jerry Lewis, the Marx Brothers, the list goes on.”

Every episode fuses those two elements together to create a mashup of modern reality TV with traditional slapstick comedy. As the cheap cameras roll, the two friends take on a humiliating challenge (like “who can stay awake the longest”), which Hotz usually wins by blatantly cheating, followed by Rice paying a horrifying penalty like eating vomit or dressing in a cheerleader’s costume. It’s not the first comedy to incorporate elements of reality shows; the aside glances at the camera on The Office, or the deliberately crude shooting style of Trailer Park Boys are in that tradition. But Kenny vs. Spenny actually follows the competition format of reality shows; the only big difference, Rice says, is that the people undergoing the humiliations are “the same guys every week,” instead of the rotating lineup of stupid people on Survivor.

Besides, shows like Trailer Park Boys are clearly fictional stories where everyone is acting. On Kenny vs. Spenny, though the ending is usually predictable, most of the things the performers do are real (and awful), meaning that just like with a show such as Jersey Shore, fans have gotten emotionally involved with the action in a way that hardly ever happens with sitcoms. When they encounter fans, Rice says, “Kenny gets abused by people for being the asshole. I get abused for being the naive loser.” And Hotz claims that the reality elements also make it harder for the show to be ruined by behind-the-scenes fighting: “Unlike other shows, if we started fighting in real life, or having problems with our relationship in real life, that made the show better, because it made me want to humiliate him more.”

Now both Rice and Hotz are preparing solo shows for Showcase, Single White Spenny and Kenny Hotz’s Triumph of the Will. As if bidding farewell to the old ways, the finale will be a bit more expensive and elaborate than usual, allowing the pair to parody cheesy Christmas specials the way one of their favourite shows, SCTV, often did. But Hotz says the basic theme is still the same: “Spenny wanting to do a real Christmas special and me wanting to destroy it.” It will be a reminder that they transcended the limitations of Canadian TV because, as Hotz put it, they “glorified a cheater and made fun of morality and ethics.” It seems like disgusting challenges and amorality have a worldwide appeal: “Dalton McGuinty jokes,” Hotz says, “aren’t going to work in Nibia. And half of our fan mail is from places we can’t even pronounce.”




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Kenny and Spenny stop fighting

  1. I guess it is congratulations on their success and all that, but I have never made it through 5 minutes of one of their shows. Not my idea of entertainment, IMHO.

    • Glad to see ya'all hated my comment. I'd point out the irony, but, why bother? After all, you think K v. S is a good show.

  2. Everyone has their own tastes, too bad the internet allows for open opinions, so here are my own…

    I'm truly saddened this is coming to an end, however happy. Two humans can only go so much torturing each other, and if this lasts as long as Seinfeld did, its torture on us! I can honestly say I try to download/stream these here in the US, and show them to friends at parties as much as I can ever since the second season. I've learned, been disgusted, and cried.

    Cheers to you Gentleman, and the courageous staff by your side. Now, I'm off to eat some octopus. Good day.

  3. Really? Then you have no sense of humour.

  4. HUGE fan of this show. Watched them since day one and have gone through the series multiple times. Note to future fans, start from the beginning because if you start with the later seasons, you'll find the original CBC stuff a little lame/tame.

    Sad to see these guys go.

  5. i love these guys. sad to see them go! props to macleans for regonizing two of my favorite canadian comedians

  6. …Sorry Grampa

  7. CONGRATS to both Kenny and Spenny on the success of your show! I will miss it so much!
    Can't wait to check out the new ones~

  8. LOVEd this show since I first saw it on CBC. So funny. I'm going to miss it a lot! RIP Kenny VS Spenny!

  9. The signs of them not wanting to do this anymore have been pretty blatant for the last 2 seasons. As much as I'll miss it, it couldn't go on forever. Even though I'm fairly sure they won't be as good, I'm looking forward to the new shows. :)

    Loyal fan since day… 20… or so.

  10. UGH!! that sux i love that show my b/f got me in to it and ive now seen them all now!! gunna miss it but defnitley gunna see the final show and maybe follow up on kennys new show :)

  11. I've watched all the episodes at least 10 times each. I watch KvS when I eat, about to sleep, have a boring day, while I study. KvS is brilliant and I'm sad that it's coming to an end.

    Cheers from Sweden.

    • Lol, låter precis som jag, sett alla avsnitt och ser gärna om dom vilken dag som helst :D

  12. Love this show. Sad to see it go but they'd drive each other into mental homes if they didn't stop. This show shall go down as a Canadian jewel of our entertainment even if it was gross, lowbrow and dissgusting at times it's popularity speaks for itself. Thank you Kenny and Spenny.

  13. Sad to see this show go, it's helped me threw the hard times by always making me smile, Kenny and Spenny are so great together and it will leave a hole in canadian tv that nothing will be able to replace. Everything Kenny did always made me laugh, he's one of those people who just hit your funny bone not matter what. Spenny is also great, if there were anyone else the show would not be as good as it is today.

    P.S. Make a KvS trivia board game!

    • amen to that

  14. "Single White Spenny and Kenny Hotz's Triumph of the Will" is a phrase that has genuinely made me laugh out loud. KvS will be sorely missed.

  15. Also…check out an original mash-up song called “Street People Removal Machine” featuring Kenny Hotz, along with the late Toronto busker Ben Kerr, the band The Cult and radio guy Joey Reynolds.  It can be heard in the middle of the Fizz Radio Boogaloo show segment “Fizz Radio Boogaloo: Progression, Not Regression” on YouTube.  Search for it on YouTube or Google.

  16. Also…Check out an original mash-up song called “Street People Removal Machine” which features Kenny Hotz, along with the late Toronto busker Ben Kerr, the band The Cult, and radio guy Joey Reynolds.  It can be heard in the middle of the Fizz Radio Boogaloo show segment “Fizz Radio Boogaloo: Progression, Not Regression.  It’s easy to find.  Search for it on YouTube or Google.

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