Best friends fighting forever
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
It was cancelled multiple times throughout its run, including twice while the pilot was being shot, but Hotz and Rice believed in the show they had created.
Canada has a rich tradition when it comes to Canadian comedy shows. From Corner Gas, to Schitt’s Creek, to Letterkenny, Canada has seen many comedies and comedians become well known internationally for the unique brand of humour the country offers. But, when listing great Canadian TV shows, one show is often left off that list. That show is a reality competition that, despite having multiple foreign adaptations and a dedicated group of fans, never quite gets the respect it deserves. That show is Kenny vs. Spenny.
Kenny vs. Spenny starred Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice. Two life-long friends who battled against each other in weekly competitions. The prize for winning was the chance to humiliate the other by forcing the loser to perform a grueling, and often embarrassing task. These humiliations include things like enduring one’s breath for 60 seconds, an egging, and being a dog for a day. Through the run of the show, the personalities of each began to magnify. Hotz was the ruthless one, doing whatever he could to win even if that involved cheating, while Rice played each competition with his own established sense of honour and fair play.
The show’s ride through television was not an easy one. It was cancelled multiple times throughout its run, including twice while the pilot was being shot, but Hotz and Rice believed in the show they had created. By season four they had found their audience, and even got picked up by Comedy Central in the United States. The show achieved its legendary status by having humour and stunts that were so insane it’s amazing they were ever approved for television. These include episodes like “Who Can Produce More Semen” where in order to stop Spenny’s production, Hotz irradiated Rice’s testicles with a stolen x-ray machine; “Who Can Wear a Dead Octopus on Their Head the Longest” where Hotz dosed Rice with LSD; and “Who Can Win a Ten Mile Race,” where Hotz fakes his mother’s death to lead Rice to an out-of-town cemetery in order to give Hotz head start.
The show ended in 2010 with a Christmas special. Ten years since the end of the show, Hotz and Rice are coming back together for their first joint TV venture in 10 years. The Kenny and Spenny Paldemic Special, ironically airing on the network that cancelled them after their first season—the CBC (specifically on their streaming service CBC Gem). Kenny vs. Spenny fans tuning in expecting to see a challenge with a humiliation may be disappointed, as this is not an episode of Kenny vs. Spenny—but for fans who enjoy the duos humour and degradation (on Rice’s part), this special will recall the moments of hilarity that occur between the two friends over Kenny vs. Spenny’ssix-season run.
The special starts out strong, with the duo’s trademark bickering and the constant self deprecating of Rice, but both men don’t seem to know where they want to take this special. There is a subplot with Hotz promising Rice that he will film a comedy pilot special for Rice to sell to broadcasters, which is just a ruse to get Rice to humiliate himself for the special, but the special ends kind of abruptly with Rice serenading the audience on the empty streets of Toronto. There was no announcement of a new show, or indication that maybe more specials were in the cards. Just a weird one-off that shows vintage comedy from the pair.
Maybe the criticism that the special ends too soon (it is only 23 minutes long) is actually a testament to the comedy of the Hotz and Rice pairing. Even 10 years removed from their eponymous show, they are still able to hit the comedic marks that made them famous. It is unknown at this time if the pairing of Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice will extend itself from the live shows they have been doing for the last few years, but one thing is for certain: their reputation as one of Canada’s most crazy, intriguing, and downright hilarious comedic forces is without a doubt cemented.