The first correspondence I ever had with Kenny Hotz went something like this. “Hi Kenny, I got your email from XM’s Ben Miner saying that you were lookin’ to get some web work done? My partner Danny and I also run a small animation studio, so would love to chat.” Send.
I waited. I had just made the move to Toronto from Vancouver, for this very reason – to get access to dudes like this… and this one dude in particular, was especially close to my heart. Back in 2009, over the course of 4 months, I fell in love with my now wife, on my 300 dollar craigslist couch – having sex, getting high, eating general tso’s, and watching Kenny VS. Spenny. It was a magical time to say the least. So to possibly be moments away from a response from Kenny was exciting. He had helped me introduce Canadian comedy to this pure Mexican soul, and she was loving it… and loving him. Every Friday night at 9, we’d turn on Showcase, and it was almost as if he was right there in the room with me, double teaming her.
The ‘ping’ from Google Notifier snapped me out of my daydream. His response – Seven beautiful words… “I’m going to make you homos famous!” How exhilarating! Years of spec writing and shitty design gigs had finally paid off. I was ‘in’ with one of the country’s most successful television comedy producers.
Very few people can use the word homo and make it sound endearing. If you’ve listened to Kenny’s XM radio show or watched KvS, Testees or Triumph of the Will, you know he doesn’t have anything against homosexuals. Nor does he have anything against Blacks, Asians, Germans or Fatties. He doesn’t even have a thing against Muslims. In fact in 2011 he became the first Jew EVER, in the history of the world, to build a mosque, which he selflessly donated to a Toronto area Muslim community. No, Kenny just has a thing against assholes, injustice and the overly sensitive and easily offended. It’s something I’ve always been able to identify with.
But getting people to relate to him has never been Kenny Hotz’s problem. It’s the reason he has the craziest fans on the internet. The kind of fans that congregate around a liveleak twerking video. Hotzies. Stoners, Dorito munchers as he affectionately calls them. Basically the most desirable demo in comedy. It’s the reason his user generated site kennyhotz.com is so content rich and why Google gave him his own Premium Youtube Channel. Of course he’s not immune to the odd pricky troll, but for the most part, his fans are all harmless jokers.
And how could they not be? They grew up on six seasons of Kenny vs. Spenny. Episodes like who can blow the biggest fart, or accumulate the most semen. The show was broadcast in over 25 different countries amassing a cult following, and licensed globally, spawning copycats in countries like the UK and Turkey. In KvS, Kenny was continuing where his pal Tom Green had left off, by turning shock reality into groundbreaking television. Even today his fans are still wondering if he really did slip Spenny acid in season 3’s octopus episode. But no matter what, the one question he just can’t seem to shake is… will there be a season 7?
Get over it Hotzies. That shit is in the past. Or maybe not. He claims he’d be up for it, but there are many factors that come into play, including willing suits, broadcasters and Spenny’s cooperation… God bless him. As for me, I was just interested in what his next show was going to be!
When I first reached out, Kenny was looking for help getting the word out for his new XM Radio gig. Danny is king of guerilla-style social media marketing, so we had him covered there… but we also had tv ideas, dammit! Animated ideas. I figured he’d be all over them, since his resume included a brief stint as a consultant for South Park, my personal summit when it came to comedy writing. Consultant? Seriously? I couldn’t help but wonder, how fuckin’ awesome do you have to be to get that job? You’re telling Matt and Trey what’s funny? It was a thrill to be talking to someone with that kind of access.
Kenny will be the first to admit that his brain is fried. After a few email exchanges back and forth, we came to the same conclusion, and decided to proceed with caution. Write clearly and concisely and only pitch him one thing at a time… Ah fuck it. We threw the kitchen sink at him.
“Only send me gold! It’s gotta be good enough to show Matt and Trey.” What an asshole to dangle that in front of me. Now I was never going to stop working for him. I tuned into his radio show, and went at it, designing 1-sheet after 1-sheet of animated concepts. Kenny Hotz’s Afterlife – a show where he interviews dead people. Kenny Hotz’s Cock Fights – a Celebrity Death Match knockoff, only with dressed up penises.
“I’m finished with dirty shit,” he responded. “It’s gotta be HBO smart.” See now I knew this guy’s brain was fried. Its not that he wasn’t capable. His latest offering, Triumph of the Will was certainly worthy. It’s just that in the same moment I was reading that, I was listening to him on his radio show talking about how if he still had his foreskin, he’d whip out his dick and put it on a plate of nachos to serve to his house guests. I was confused.
The truth of the matter is, it’s tough getting comedy produced in Canada. He’ll be the first to bitch about it, on his radio show, in panel discussions, and at award ceremonies. Even having a proven track record is no guarantee. “You gotta get lucky” he says, but I’m not sure I buy it. Like some asshole somewhere said, “luck is just what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” And Kenny’s always been well prepared. He speaks so highly of the cast of SCTV and other Canadian comedy pioneers, and claims that while everyone else was out there getting law degrees and PHDs, he was at home studying tv and preparing for a career in entertainment. Once again, I found myself relating.
But the bottom line was, I was fooling myself. Kenny didn’t know me from Adam. Why the hell would he want my shit, when he can’t even get his own stuff made? I was left feeling beaten down and discouraged. Then just like your typical abuser, he pretended like nothing happened and offered up some comforting advice over the airwaves. “If you love something, just go out there and do it. If you get an opportunity, work hard and don’t fuck it up! And most importantly don’t be afraid to do your own thing!” He was right, and just like that, I was done trying to create a show for him.
When I emailed Kenny last weekend, asking him if I could write this piece, I told him it wouldn’t be a Q&A and he wouldn’t have to do shit. I knew he was somehow involved in Just for Laughs, so I wanted to do something nice to correspond with this years festival. I got a “Yes please.” response.
But the other day, when I was thinking about an angle for this article, I realized I was missing some vital information. I wrote him back, admitting that I lied and that I just needed to know one thing… “What exactly do you do for Just for Laughs?”
It took a day or so for a response, but finally it came…
“I’m a consultant.”
Someone say HBO?