Canadian comedians: On the road with Kenny vs. Spenny

By in Culture
Kenny Hotz (left) and Spencer Rice (right) talked to the Sheaf’s Outreach Director Victoria Becker after their show at Louis’ Pub.

Although the show ended in 2010, Kenny vs. Spenny remains a classic Canadian comedy. The show first aired in 2001, gaining notoriety for its wild antics. The premise was simple: each episode, Kenny Hotz and Spencer “Spenny” Rice would go head-to-head in a zany, juvenile — but entertaining — competition.

Such competitions included who could sell the most bibles, who could be tied to a goat longer and who could keep an octopus on their head longer. The victor of each competition then determined a humiliation for the loser — which was often nauseating for both the loser and the viewer alike.

Although the show has been finished for some time, the dynamic duo continues to deliver the same gut-churning laughs that they’ve been dishing out since 2001 — now on a live tour across Canada. The Sheaf talked with Rice to discuss life on the road, ambitions, the show’s legacy and his future endeavours.

After six seasons and 85 episodes, Rice ended up with 59 losses and 59 corresponding humiliations. Regardless, Rice takes pride in his greatest victories against Hotz.

“My favourite humiliation was when I had Kenny kissing that 90-year-old lady — French kissing no less. That was pretty satisfying … In terms of my favourite victory, I think mine was [in the episode] “Who’s the Better Jew”… The rabbi unbelievably picked me,” Rice said.

While Hotz and Rice’s relationship was often under strain on the show, Rice believes that their friendship is still strong.

“Our relationship has been through a lot — both … positives and negatives,” Rice said. “On the tour, we get along really well. We both enjoy it, but we have to manifest the hostility when we get on stage… It’s a good experience. It’s been very good for our friendship.”

Although it appears Rice has always borne the brunt of the duo’s dysfunctional relationship on screen, he assures fans that is not the case in real life.

“Our fathers were friends, so we’ve known each other for decades — there was always that difference… I disagree with the concept that he’s on my back — I let him be on my back, because we love the comedy, we love the show, and we see the value in the show,” Rice said.

For Rice, their success on television and on tour comes from the authenticity of their friendship and how candid they are with one another.

“Kenny and I are real people, so it wasn’t a manufactured relationship or fake in any way… [Whether the fans] realize it or not, they got the realness of it,” Rice said. “You can’t have the kind of timing we have without doing it for many, many, many years.”

Rice also believes that touring allows him and Hotz to continue doing what fans know and love, while also promoting their brand.

“Fans [can expect] hostility, comedy, grossness and merchandise. Actually, the merchandise is really nice on this tour — we’ve been selling a lot of T-shirts,” Rice said.

Despite the success that Kenny vs. Spenny continues to generate, Rice hopes to branch out with his endeavours.

“Music is [what’s next]. I’ve been doing that for a couple years now, as a solo artist and [in] a band. It’s what I love to do,” Rice said.

Though the two comedic competitors have firmly established themselves in the Canadian comedic canon, Rice is still awestruck by how big Kenny vs. Spenny has become.

“I don’t think we ever envisioned that our competitiveness and our dysfunction would turn into a TV show,” Rice said. “I don’t think we ever saw that coming.”

Photo and text: Victoria Becker / Outreach Director