A mere thirty seconds into a half hour chat with K. Trevor Wilson, it became obvious that any similarities between Squirrelly Dan, the hick from Letterkenny, and his portrayer begin and end with appearances. And fart and poop jokes. They have those in common, too.
Wilson headlined the North Bay Comedy Festival Saturday evening, held at the White Water Gallery. His storytelling brand of comedy was a huge hit with those assembled at the intimate setting of the gallery.
Wilson's observations on roommates, church and the elevated price of cheese connected him to his audience from the outset. Snorts, guffaws and uproarious laughter were no doubt heard by those fishing on Lake Nipissing.
Clint Couchie, who supported Wilson on the night's card, organized a night of laughter that few will forget, leaving no doubt as to the festival's viability in the city.
With Wilson's set finished, it was time to turn to business and get the inside scoop on Letterkenny, the breakout CraveTV hit that portrays small-town Ontario in a manner that has rural Ontarians shaking their heads in agreement, and big-city folks wondering if they are part of an elaborate prank.
K. Trev (we were on a first-name basis moments after being introduced) asked that I step into his office (the dark alley behind the gallery), where over cigarettes and an adult beverage he answered questions in his distinct gruff bellow.
Asked about his brand comedy, Wilson explained "it's the strange-but-true stuff. It's all real stuff. I got mugged when I was 25, I was the dirty roommate, and they asked me to go, now I'm the clean one."
Turning to Letterkenny, Wilson tells of a camaraderie amongst the cast and crew. Shooting in Sudbury, the time between takes has led Wilson to adopt Andrew Herr and Dylan Playfair (the hockey players Jonesy and Reilly) as "little brothers. I love those two."
Series creators Jared Keeso (who also plays Wayne) and Jacob Tierney created a "fun character with Squirrelly Dan, and I sort of brought a different interpretation. Originally the role was written for Dan Petronijevic, who plays McMurray on the show."
Wilson knew the producers through Just For Laughs, and had written some pilot ideas based on his stand up for them. "They were looking for a storyteller for the role of Dan, so before the audition I watched video of Jared and Nate (Nathan Dales who plays Daryl) just to get their pacing, how quickly they delivered the lines and the dialogue. My stand up is generally slower-paced, so I knew the tempo I had to match."
The rest is history. Wilson adopted to Letterkenny's rapid-fire pace, and used his experiences touring Canada's small towns as background for the role.
On the subject of the extensive vocabulary used in his act (and in real life) and how his looks give people preconceived notions about who he is, Wilson said "It's misdirection. Like a magic trick. You want people to think one thing while another is happening.
"When I started out in comedy, everyone always told me that I reminded them of someone they knew. The more I played small towns, I realized if I show up looking a certain way, they're going to make assumptions off the top about what my humor is going to be, and it's a bit of a curveball when they realize that I'm actually well-spoken, that I went to art school," explained Wilson.
The success of Letterkenny has been remarkable. When the show debuted on CraveTV, the top two rated shows were Seinfeld and South Park. After taking over the top spot, Jared Keeso's favourite joke became "Seinfeld? Oh, you mean Crave's number two rated show?" said Wilson, chuckling.
With Letterkenny season two expected to debut in December 2016 on CraveTV (and later on the Comedy Network), the cast and crew have been hard at work in Sudbury. Wilson reveals an expanded role is being written for Squirrelly Dan, with many plot surprises to come. Wilson says to look for the hockey players to move up a division, as well. A renewal for season three is also in the works.
As K. Trevor Wilson prepared to slip into the North Bay night, he answered one final question about Letterkenny's place in Canadiana comedy. "If you are going to be compared to two shows, Corner Gas and Trailer Park Boys are the ones you want. Those and The Beachcombers," he said with a hearty laugh.