Kenny vs Spenny - Live is coming to Sammy Krenshaw's Tillsonburg on Saturday, Jan. 27.
The Canadian comedic duo of Kenny Hotz and Spencer 'Spenny' Rice, stars of the hit TV show on CBC in 2003-04, and Showcase 2005-2010, have been taking their live show on the road since 2014.
The chemistry the two lifetime friends developed over the years, and what helped make their TV show so popular, is still definitely there.
"The chemistry is so real, and it's who we really are fundamentally, so that doesn't surprise me," said Spenny.
"I think what surprises both of us is that the audiences still show up after not being on the air for so long. I guess with Netflix, and ways in which people can continue to watch programs that have been officially not on the air, we've been very lucky.
"And I think there is something about what we did that is pretty crazy. The craziness doesn't exist so much on TV these days, it's a little more conservative, and kids seem to like that stuff. So we have young kids, teenagers and even younger sometimes, who love the show. And of course they weren't old enough, some of them, to watch it when it first aired."
Kenny vs Spenny was originally intended for MTV, then an American network, but they both pulled the plug on the pilots.
"We knew how to make TV and film so we finished the pilot ourselves, then it took a year or two... and CBC ordered 26 episodes. That was the beginning.
"Then we ended up on Showcase after CBC realized what we were doing," Spenny chuckled. "The time slot was bizarre, we were on at 5:30 right before the news. It would literally be me bobbing for apples in the toilet, 'and now Peter Mansbridge with the news...' So there was a certain amount of neglect on their part, maybe, but their neglect was our gain. We were on long enough to develop a significant following and then Showcase was smart enough to pick it up. Most series, when they're canceled, they're done. We got lucky."
The idea for the show was developed growing up in their hometown of Toronto.
"Frenemies, I think someone coined the term. We're still friends, but it's been a very rocky road, and even was before we were ever on TV. That's the nature of our relationship. We are an Odd Couple, a natural kind of Odd Couple. We found that not doing the TV series and doing the live stuff has in a sense been a relief. We live in different cities now, we're not constantly with each other, which is helpful.
"The problem becomes mustering up all the hostility for the live shows, which really isn't hard to click into that because he is so aggressive in attacking me that it's very easy for me to become indignant."
Whether it's Kenny, or coming from the audience, Spenny has ample opportunity to lose his temper, which is what people come to see.
"It's quite genuine, believe me."
Spenny describes the show as a natural improv that has evolved over the past three to three-and-a-half years.
"Where we're at right now, Kenny has almost made a career trading lies about me. It goes on and on and on. It got to the point where I said 'we've got to change up the show' and I said, 'if you lie about me, I'm just going to walk off the stage.' I will do that - I just don't care. So he said, 'well, what if I tell true stories about you?' I agreed, and in sense I regret it, but in another sense, it was possibly the greatest thing, it's what makes this incarnation of the show, I think, so special. Because now I'm defending myself not against lies but against truth. So in a sense, I look at it as a therapy.
"I find that people are very judgmental in our fan base, which drives me crazy. And I go after the audience as much as I do Kenny these days.
"Fundamentally, the show - whether it was the TV show or the live show - has always been about trying to look better to the audience. Trying to win the audience over. Really that's what the live show has always been - and the TV show really is - who do you like more? Who do you like in person? I have an uphill battle with Kenny because he's funny, he's rude, he's crude, and audiences like the bad guy generally speaking. But I know how to make comedy out of my end of it, so it all works."
General admission tickets are $29.95, available online at ourevent.ca, or in Tillsonburg at Sammy Krenshaw's or the Bell Store.