(KGET) — It may always be sunny in Philadelphia but it’s always funny in “Letterkenny.” The original Hulu comedy series deals with the weird residents of Letterkenny, a small rural community in Canada. The local population includes farmers, out-of-towners, drug addicts and members of the local hockey team.
The one thing all of the residents have in common is a wicked and weird sense of humor. Among those providing the laughter is Canadian actor Dylan Playfair who plays Reilly.
Playfair has been with the series since it started as a YouTube offering in 2015. His character and his best friend, Jonesy (Andrew Herr) are hockey players who have a relationship with Katy (Michelle Mylett). In an example of fiction reflecting fact, Playfair and Herr were on the same hockey team as “Letterkenny” co-creators Jared Keeso.
“There are six YouTube minis and they brought us out for number six. That was my connection into the series” Playfair says. “The characters were pretty well people we had interacted with through junior hockey.
“I think of all the characters, Reilly is definitely the one I know the most. As with any character, you get to go through many seasons interacting with other characters in the town and that’s when the character begins to take on a little lifestyle of their own. Reilly has matured with me in a very interesting way.”
The reason Playfair feels so comfortable with his character being a hockey player and being surrounded by hockey players is that the original plan was for Playfair to follow in his father’s – former NHL player and coach Jim Playfair – skating moves to the point of his playing Junior A hockey in Canada.
But, Playfair opted to go into acting instead. When he had made up his mind to make acting his life’s work, Playfair sat down with his father to talk about the decision.
“My dad had a real impactful conversation with me at the end of training camp,” Playfair says. “I was nervous. He said don’t ever get to the position where you regret the game that has given our family so much.
“You see people who go too far – whether it is a job or a game – where they go too far and begin to resent it. He said pursue what you want to do and go fully into it. And, you can still play hockey until you can’t skate anymore.”
Playfair has been able to live in both worlds to a small degree. He has been able – as in the case of “Letterkenny” – to find acting roles where he could use his hockey skills. He portrayed Marty Howe in “Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story” and can be seen in the upcoming “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.”
There have also been acting jobs that required no hockey knowledge. Playfair has worked in a variety of productions including playing Gil, the son of Gaston, in the Disney Channel movies “Descendants 2” and “Descendants 3.” He had to juggle work schedules to work on both “Letterkenny” and the live-action films based on well-known Disney characters.
Playfair considers himself blessed to be able to play a character as offbeat as Reilly and as family-friendly as Gil. He laughs and says there is a completely different feel on the set working on the two very different projects.
“I get the funniest messages on Instagram and Twitter of ‘Letterkenny’ fans sitting with their kids watching ‘Descendants’ going ‘I’m getting ready to hear Reilly drop a curse word and it’s not happening. What’s going on?’ I just love acting and really getting to lean into those characters,” Playfair says.
He has a special love for “Letterkenny” as he now has had the chance to play the role for half a decade. What makes the show so much fun is that the characters and style of humor remind him of “The Gilmore Girls” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (another show about an odd group of blue collar friends).
The comparison to “Gilmore Girls” has to do with the writing and the way the show is produced. The residents of Letterkenny are all masters of the one-liners and quick quips. That humor is delivered at such a rapid rate Playfair has to work extra hard to make sure he can deliver the lines with just the right tempo and tone.
The key to what makes “Letterkenny” works was something he learned at the beginning.
“When Jared set out to make this show, he told us out of the gate that he thinks is funny, that we think is funny,” Playfair says. “It is a very inclusive show. No one is left out of the joke, out of the community.
“It is very cool show to be a part of in terms of how progressive it is while making fart jokes.”