Tyler Johnston & Evan Stern Talk Break Dancing, Skids
ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Letterkenny stars Tyler Johnston and Evan Stern about the show’s 11th season. The duo discussed the evolution of the Skids the physical toll of break dancing. Letterkenny Season 11 is now available to stream on Hulu.
“The Letterkenny locals deal with influencers, lost dogs, a Church Bake Sale mystery, unwelcome visitors at beer league, and trouble from the Degens on the 11th season of the Canadian comedy,” reads the season’s synopsis.
Spencer Legacy: Tyler, 11 seasons is a huge milestone. Has your approach to your characters changed in the last seven years of portraying them?
Tyler Johnston: Absolutely. Spencer. Yeah, the first couple seasons we were quite heavily … in the drug world.
Evan Stern: Methamphetamines.
Tyler Johnston: We had scars and we had black eyes and we didn’t sleep very much — not that our characters have changed much in that regard — but Evan and I used to slam just 12 cups of coffee before we got to set and we’d dance our hearts out and that was kind of our meth of choice back in the day. And now, our characters are a little bit more word-perfect and have all sorts of other things that they’re getting into. So we’ve got to prepare a little bit more these days.
Evan Stern: We do have a lot of preparation. We do have a lot of preparation. Ty and I like to run our lines 400 times, as we like to say, the night before. The fact that we do have fewer drug references and we’re more … investigating crimes and starting businesses, it’s new words for us. A lot of new things to learn.
Tyler, the church bake sale episode’s really Stewart’s big episode. What was filming that like?
Tyler Johnston: Oh, it was so much fun. Anytime we get a group of people together on one day, we usually have a fricking blast, you know? So we had Coach, Gail, and then Katy, Rosie, Glen, and Tanis, and then of course Roaldie and I roll up to the spot. You throw a bunch of characters together in one place, it’s going to usually be mayhem. Obviously the cast gets along very well, so we know when to be professional and when to try and push each other’s buttons a little bit.
Evan, the scene in the drug dealing episode where you’re going around Stewart in the chair like a Disney villain, tempting him, that was incredible. How many takes did that require?
Evan Stern: Well, I thought that they were going to punch in, cut them together to make it look less crazy, but they just kept the one wide shot of me doing it. Did not expect that. Actually, I was surprised to see that yesterday. It took a few. You kept laughing!
Tyler Johnston: The first thing is like, look … he just … we didn’t rehearse it. We didn’t talk about it. All of a sudden we just started saying the lines and Evan is all over me. I’m supposed to be stoic, seated on this chair. He’s rubbing my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. And then he comes around this … he goes up my neck and around my other side and then his, his lips are touching my —
Evan Stern: I was thinking, my hot breath on your neck. At one point I was like —
Tyler Johnston: Inside of my ear.
Evan Stern: I still remember that feeling.
Tyler Johnston: Yeah. So that’s what happened that day, Spencer. Sometimes Jacob [Tierney], our director, will just let us go and kind of just leave us stranded out there. And that might have been one of the cases in which that happened to Evan.
Evan Stern: Yeah, that was Jacob’s fault.
Tyler Johnston: Yeah, definitely. Jacob’s fault.
It’d be easy for the Skids to wear out their welcome or be one-note, but you guys keep them consistently entertaining. What’s your approach to that?
Tyler Johnston: Well, I’ve got to say, Jared [Keeso] and Jacob have done a great job of writing the Skids. I think Jared has said in the past [that] the Skids are some of his favorite scenes to write because he can pretty much get away with doing anything, which has been pretty cool — to be a part of this evolution of the Skids. Again, we started out as the drug dealers in the basement selling dollar cigarettes, and then we became weightlifters and break-dancers and business owners.
Evan Stern: We do it all man. We do it all. Endless.
Tyler Johnston: Every season’s refreshing.
Evan Stern: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. It’s really just a matter of Jacob and Jared being like, “Oh, we can do anything with them.” So the one-note aspect was them stepping away from like the neck wounds and the throwing up on the patio and being like, “Let’s give them anything else to do.”
In a way, you guys have become like the Kramers of Letterkenny, where any adventure just fits.
Evan Stern: Two Kramers, oh no.
Tyler Johnston: Kramer and Kramer! Yeah.
Tyler, now that 11 seasons have passed, has that lightning fast wordplay become more natural to deliver? Or has it become any easier?
Tyler Johnston: Easier is a pretty tricky word. Like Evan says, we rehearse a lot and a lot and a lot. And some of these words that I say as Stuart, I never use in my vocabulary.
Evan Stern: Tyler needs a dictionary on hand. All the time.
Tyler Johnston: I have a very, very limited vocabulary, Spencer. So when I’m reading Stewart’s lines, I have no idea what I’m saying when I first read them.
Evan Stern: The amount of times you’ll hear Jacob shout from across the room, “It’s charcuterie! Charcuterie!”
Tyler Johnston: “Char-cut-too-ree? Char-ka-turry?”
Evan Stern: “I’ve never seen this word before! What is this? Tiny cheeses?”
Tyler Johnston: I’m from the suburbs of Vancouver, dude! I don’t eat these cheese and meat and these crackers!
Evan Stern: Green juice only!
Tyler Johnston: Cheez Whiz and the Ritz. So it does get easier because Evan and I have an amazing relationship.
Evan Stern: Rapport.
Tyler Johnston: And chemistry. We always have each other’s back out there too. Whenever Evan forgets a line, which is all the time, I’ll hop in and cover for him.
Evan Stern: Yeah, right!
Evan, what’s it like to film the Skids’ iconic dance sequences?
Evan Stern: It feels exhausting.
Tyler Johnston: Talk to his lower back!
Evan Stern: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun and it’s hype and when we know they’re going to happen, we stretch out, we feel good, and then when we don’t know when it’s going to happen … like for instance, someone surprises us like, “Oh, you guys have like a dance sequence now,” and we haven’t warmed up … the 30-year-oldness of us really kind of settles in. I really start to feel it, doing the handstands and jumping around. But it’s fun. It’s a good time.
Tyler Johnston: Evan’s, right, Spencer. For the first couple seasons, they would see a cool backdrop or a cool space and they’re like, “Hey, let’s get the Skids in wardrobe and have them dance against this wall. Now let’s get the Skids in wardrobe, but have them dance against this wall.”
Evan Stern: He’s standing in the back like, “Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance!”
Evan Stern: 20-30 minutes of dance is sweating.
Tyler Johnston: Just playing a song.
Evan Stern: Blood in my shoes. Yeah.
Tyler Johnston: No, but things are great, Spencer. Yeah, thanks for asking!
Evan Stern: Yeah, we’re doing great. 10 out of 10.
You guys sell it completely. It looks totally natural and energetic. I wouldn’t believe that you need any Advil after.
Evan Stern: Oh, thank you!
Letterkenny has a pretty substantial following, even outside of Canada. How does it feel to be part of a major piece of Canadian entertainment now?
Tyler Johnston: It feels incredible. Spencer. Growing up in this industry, oftentimes we have to hide our Canadian accents. In Vancouver here, we mimic Seattle and in Toronto they mimic New York. It’s just kind of cool to be able to just let our Canadian flag fly.
It’s nice to see other countries gravitating towards it. I mean, America, that tour we did was out of control fun. We had amazing crowds every single night, every city we went to. It was just incredible. There’s no other way to describe it.
Evan Stern: That’s true. No other way.
Tyler Johnston: Yeah. You go on your Instagram or your Twitter and you look at the analytics and it’s 80% America too. So they’ve really gravitated and held onto our show. That live tour was a big indicator of that.