The best hockey player in the history of Letterkenny, Ontario is back in action.
From the hicks, skids and degens who made Letterkenny a stunningly big cult hit, Shoresy is a hockey-based spinoff following the foul-mouthed player of the same name. For those out of the loop, the popular Canadian sitcom created by Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney celebrated its 10th season last year, and now the Hulu and Crave-powered crew is following Keeso’s formerly faceless hockey stud on his journey to the Sudbury Bulldogs.
But whereas Letterkenny is largely built around its stable of existing characters (including Keeso’s “Wayne,” Tierney’s “Glen,” and Shoresy Consulting Producer Kaniehtiio Horn’s “Tanis”), Shoresy brings in an almost entirely new cast, with more of an emphasis on a somewhat traditional sports narrative rather than offbeat conversations and recurring jokes.
Of course, with Tierney serving as Executive Producer and Director and the entire thing still centered around Keeso, it’s not too far off of what fans have come to know and love about Letterkenny. That’s what we appreciate about it.
SPIN spoke with Tierney, Horn, and newcomer Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat about the new addition to the Letterkenny Cinematic Universe.
SPIN: Obviously there are some similarities, but Shoresy feels pretty different compared to Letterkenny. How much of that was an intentional choice?
Jacob Tierney: We wanted it to be different, but also exist in the same space. A lot of the writing did that work for us, because it’s a story with a plot moving through it — which is very unlike Letterkenny, where we deliberately don’t do that very often. The look of Letterkenny was always based on the way Jared moved as Wayne, which is very, very still and and very specific — whereas Shoresy is a lot rougher. I also changed up the look a little bit to make it feel more like Shoresy and shot at a different aspect ratio to give it a different vibe. We wanted to have fun doing something different, and try to make it something special. But also, I had faith in the writing that our fans would still recognize what they like about Letterkenny.
What was it like to try some new things and depart from the tried and true Letterkenny formula?
Tierney: I’ve always said that Letterkenny is a classic sitcom format, in that you want people to come back to the same safe space. You don’t change the bar in Cheers, and you don’t change the order in which they sit at the produce stand. It’s supposed to be familiar. It was really exciting and fun with Shoresy to introduce new characters and get to play with new people and new personalities — and to tell a different story. It was a great opportunity for all of us who work on Letterkenny all the time to do something different and flex some new muscles.
Shoresy really dives deep into Canadian hockey and indigenous culture almost to the point of being educational. How do you balance the crude jokes and insults with unintentionally teaching viewers about cultures and scenes outside of their own?
Tierney: I’m happy to be an Afterschool Special, but we’re just trying to tell the stories as authentically as we can. Considering the communities that we grew up in and the stories we’re trying to tell, you can’t tell a story about hockey in northern Ontario without having indigenous people and French people. It would be weird to not have them there. It would be a very specific and odd choice, because that’s not what hockey culture is actually like. We try to go from what’s real and take it from there. We’re definitely not trying to teach anybody anything, but if you happen to learn things along the way, well, God bless and you can write off the show as educational.
What was it like to introduce all of these new characters and really have to advance their stories pretty quickly, compared to the ones you’ve had 10 seasons to build on Letterkenny?
Tierney: When you add a storyline that is as strong as this one — when you give people wants and goals — you learn more about them more quickly, because you see them reacting to different situations. They’re not just sitting around and talking about masturbating in space for 15 minutes, which doesn’t lend itself to character development. That was part of the fun too. It’s a new challenge for us and a new way of telling a story. I think it’s very different for someone like Harlan to come in with a character like Sanguinet, because you learn more about Sanguinet in the first episode of this show than you probably learn about Riley and Jonesy in two seasons of Letterkenny. That’s the way it should be for this, because you need to understand what his stakes are in his storyline.
Harlan, what was it like jumping straight into all of this?
Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat: Already being a huge fan of Letterkenny myself, it just feels unreal. When I got there on the first day seeing Jacob, Tiio and Jared, I was like “That’s Glen! That’s Tanis! That’s Wayne!” It was unreal for me, and I’m super glad to have this opportunity to be a part of this family.
And Kaniehtiio, what was it like for you to step more into a producer’s role rather than being in front of the camera, like you are for Letterkenny?
Kaniehtiio Horn: I was asked last May by Jared if I would come on and help him with the show that he was developing. There’s no one way to get into producing, so I saw this as my opening. I couldn’t say now, because it’s also with some of my best friends and, like Harlan was saying, it’s like a family. I was brought into this role that just felt like a very safe space. I could ask stupid questions, and I think what I brought to Tanis on Letterkenny, I could bring over to Shoresy. I was just making these characters that are already written and being portrayed by amazing people and amplify it to be a little bit more authentic in terms of the indigenous representation. It’s not like I had to say “No, that’s totally wrong” to anything, but it was more like “There’s a foundation here, now let’s build on it.” Like when Harlan gets dressed up in a suit and has his two braids, I was like “Trust me. The kid’s got long hair, we’ve got to put him in braids and a bolo tie or big medallion.” There were things I brought to Shoresy that I had already been used to from the representation in Letterkenny, because the space that Jared and Jacob create is a very collaborative space.
Speaking of that representation, Shoresy — much like Letterkenny — is pretty good about being inclusive and making fun of everyone rather than picking on a specific group or culture. How did that translate to someone who talks as much trash as Shoresy?
Horn: Nobody’s safe, and that’s what makes it so equal, I think. With Shoresy, it’s a show about hockey in Canada, so if there was no indigenous representation, it would be weird. By having so much indigenous representation, you’re allowed to have a bitch and an asshole and this and that. They’re not the only one, so you don’t have only one chance to represent that group of people.
Tierney: Everyone’s got a mother Shoresy can fuck, right? You don’t have to be any race, any gender, any persuasion of any kind. He’s still going to talk about fucking your mom. So there’s a universality there.
How would you describe Shoresy to someone who isn’t just watching it as a fan of Letterkenny?
Tierney: I would say the great thing about a comedy is that you can try it for 22 minutes and see if it tickles your fancy. Like all good sports fiction, we hope it makes you want to root for a team. There’s a journey you can follow these guys on, and if you get behind them, there’s a nice payoff — and hopefully you laugh along the way. We’re not trying to do anything cute or revolutionary here. We just want to entertain people. I hope this reaches as wide an audience as Letterkenny, and I suspect it will. I think there’ll be some different people that will like this more because they want more story in their shows. They want to follow a journey, and I think we’re giving them that this time.
Last question, what’s your favorite Shoresy chirp?
Kytwayhat: “Shut the fuck up, Sanguinet!”
Horn: Oh, I don’t know… But I like “Shut the fuck up, Sanguinet!” too. That’s a good one.
Tierney: There’s one he says to the high school boys that I love. It was something about his mom’s vagina being so wide that it’s like throwing a big dick down a giant hallway. That’s one of my preferred ones.