It’s easy to understand why Jared Keeso is feeling pretty good about things these days.
The creator and co-writer of the wildly popular Crave TV original series Letterkenny – he plays lead “Hick,” Wayne – is secure in the knowledge that his “baby” will be in production for the next few years at least, and that he’s got a steady gig doing Letterkenny Live! when not filming the series. It’s a stark contrast for someone accustomed to working hard to win roles and living with the general uncertainty of life in the Canadian film and TV world.
“I love being busy. On the other end of it, when you’re an actor auditioning all the time … I spent 10 years not knowing when the next job was coming,” the 33-year-old actor told Monday during some down time before taking the stage in North Bay, Ont.
“Being able to basically be working year-round is a dream come true and something that’s tough to do in the industry,” he said. “You know, it’s supposed to be a grind here in Canada.”
Keeso and fellow Letterkenny cast members Nathan Dales (Daryl), K. Trevor Wilson (Squirrely Dan) and Mark Forward (Coach) bring their lightning-fast banter to the Royal Theatre stage for a pair of shows April 3. The performances include new material – being test driven for future seasons, Keeso said – as well as some classic Letterkenny scenes. Wilson and Forward, whose backgrounds are in standup, will also do solo comedy routines and a few Youtube style scenes will be screened to break things up.
— Letterkenny Problems (@LetterkennyProb) March 22, 2018
“I’ve been looking forward to this part of it, the live show,” Keeso said. “We have to do everything quite a bit different than when we’re filming. Like the boys and I, when we’re doing these scenes on stage, we have to wait for the laughter. It’s good for Dalesy and I to have two road warriors like [Wilson and Forward]; there’s definitely some mentoring going on.”
Keeso previously earned Canadian film and TV honours for his portrayals of hockey icon Don Cherry in two films, and more recently as lead character Ben Chartier in the acclaimed police drama series 19-2.
2017 was a banner year, as Letterkenny, Keeso and co-writer Jacob Tierney (Pastor Glen) won Canadian Screen Awards for Best Comedy Series and Best Writing in a Comedy Program or Series, and a Writers Guild of Canada for Best Writing in a TV Comedy, as well as a Leo Award for Best Music, Comedy or Variety Program or Series.
Pretty heady stuff for an idea that had its roots on Youtube as Letterkenny Problems and didn’t hit the small screen until 2016.
The deal signed last fall with New Metric Media and Bell called for 40 new episodes, the live tour and an expansion of Letterkenny merchandising. The big break – created with a whole lot of ongoing hard work – continues to be a source of amazement for Keeso.
“Every day,” he said. “Like I said, being able to have job security in the Canadian film business is uncommon. When our extension came through and resembled a baseball deal, we were all pleasantly surprised. We got a term, there’s years there. It’s the first time in Canada that a series has been greenlit for that long.”
It means fans can look forward to seeing a lot more of Letterkenny and its lovable characters.
If you’d like to see some of them live and in person, there’s two shows on tap, one at 6:30 and another at 9:30 p.m. Tickets range from $40 to $165; they’re available at the Royal or McPherson box offices or online at rmts.bc.ca.