“What’s the difference between Harvey Weinstein and Spenny? Weinstein gives you a job after he rapes you.” That was one of many cringe-worthy jokes from a performance by Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice, better known as Kenny vs. Spenny. A hit Canadian television show that ran for six seasons, Kenny vs. Spenny starred two best friends who battled each other every episode in outrageous competitions, with the loser forced to perform a humiliating task as punishment.
For Sunday’s show, a live rectal exam, jokes about rape, paedophilia, and defecation were all part of the ninety-minute performance. And, in what was the most exciting moment of live comedy I’ve witnessed, a heckler was physically removed from the venue by one of the performers. Not shy about making gags about the holocaust, Kenny wore a t-shirt with an image of Hitler wearing pyjamas and riding a toboggan over a rainbow. He said that his “grandfather was in the holocaust. His tattoo was six million and one.”
Outtakes from the show and bits that were deemed too nasty for network television were screened. One particularly raunchy video starred Kenny, who sensually pretended to have sex with a stuffed goat. Embarrassing photos, such as a book titled My Life as a Pug Rapist with Spenny’s image on the cover, and a diploma under his name from the National Academy of Rapists, also flashed on the screen while Kenny provided commentary.
On the television program, Kenny was the diabolical one who would do anything, including cheating, to win. For the live show Kenny insulted and embarrassed his friend to get laughs from the crowd, while Spenny barely kept his cool amid the verbal assault. “How do you know Spenny is gay?” asked Kenny. “Because his dick tastes like shit.” Spenny mentioned he likes “older women,” to which Kenny replied, “I guess that’s why you hang out at the graveyard with a shovel.” And, for the local crowd, Kenny said he’s “into poutine, but Spenny is into teen poo.”
After an intermission, Spenny pulled out a guitar and performed one of his trademark acoustic songs. Bucketlist is a music website, so for me, the musical interlude felt like more familiar territory. He warned the crowd to “be careful what you wish for because you might end up on TV covered in poo.” The crowd demanded Kenny play the classic “Grandpa, Grandpa,” and he gave them a brief version but mentioned he doesn’t remember the words and usually improvises the songs.
The poo reference later made sense when a video of Spenny being sprayed with fecal matter while dressed as a sailor was screened (Kenny called it a “shitnami” and said “I guess that’s why they call it the poop deck”). Other outtakes included a black and white video of Spenny having sex with a porn star and a scene in which he licked a cat’s anus while wearing a tiny condom on his tongue.
Spenny finally reached his breaking point near the end of the show, but not because of Kenny’s taunting. After a wild bit of heckling from an audience member, which I, unfortunately, couldn’t hear from the other side of the room, Spenny said he would leave the stage unless the heckler was kicked out. The bouncers ignored his request so Spenny, who looked like he was about to explode with rage, came down from the stage and grabbed the guy himself.
I was really hoping to see a live “Kenny vs. Spenny” competition, but unfortunately that wasn’t part of the show. When they came onstage with a bottle of Jameson whiskey, I thought it might be used for a drinking competition in the style of the “who can drink more beer” challenge. They only drank a quarter of the bottle though.
There was a sort of humiliation when a volunteer from the audience came on stage and pulled his pants down to receive a rectal exam. At that point, with another nod to the local audience, Kenny said: “for some reason he thought he smelled smoked meat.” One of the best things about a live comedy set is the unpredictable nature of the crowd, and, in that respect, Kenny vs. Spenny was one of the wildest I’ve seen. But, unfortunately, I’ll never be able to look at another plate of poutine without thinking of “teen poo.”
Written by Rob Coles
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy