You’ve likely come to feel like you know the Hicks and Skids, even if you don’t know their last names, and have developed strong opinions about which seemingly interchangeable member of the Lettermen Irish is the funniest. So here, presented as tribute to and analysis of this titanic work of television, is my ranking of 80 characters from the show’s nine seasons, the last of which premiered in the U.S. on December 26.
In Lettermen’s case, that incident is Wayne breaking up with Angie, his long-term girlfriend, when he catches her cheating on him. Her last extended appearance is in Season 3 when the whole Lettermen Irish team falls in love with her, to the detriment of locker-room chemistry, and Katy chases her off by kicking her in the crotch.
Now, there’s something cathartic about watching Hard Right Jay get seven shades of shit beaten out of him, but his character doesn’t serve much of a purpose beyond that. The latter, in addition to writing and directing the lion’s share of the show, plays Glen, the town’s minister/part-time bartender/part-time TV station manager.
But in the early seasons, he’s part of a running gag about an effeminate, semi-closeted gay character who, in a rather homophobic depiction, continuously throws himself at the show’s macho male lead. AIK sits in the middle of a Venn diagram of two Lettermen archetypes: villainous cheating exes and female characters who don’t do much except stand around and look pretty.
These are two club goers from the City who encouraged Stewart to get sole and beat up their drug-dealing nemesis, and the Restaurant manager who gave Wayne two paint cans full of coins in the penny drive episode. Squirrel Dan’s on-again-off-again Mennonite girlfriend and her wayward nieces who hooked up with the hockey players while on rumoring.
On one hand, a character who exists only to pop out of the blue and sling insults at Reilly and Jones has a pretty high floor. Lettermen is great when it’s just a show about neighbors engaging in drunken antics, but it goes up a level when there’s a villain who unifies everyone in the town.
The extended joke with the Deck family is that despite being from an extremely insular and conservative community, they unwittingly speak almost entirely in sexual innuendos. GAE provided a lot to the show by helping Stewart and Roald evolve into more well-rounded characters after Devon’s departure; introducing the City and the drug dealer story line; and coining the Skids’ rallying cry of rebellion: “I hate the world.
For the most part, I tried not to include characters who showed up for only a couple of minutes in one episode (there’s an entire second group of Bizarre Hicks from a neighboring town), but these two are worth making an exception for. After years of matchmakers, false starts, and heartbreak, it looked like Wayne had found true love.
Someone who could banter with him and his friends, gave him space to concentrate on chores, and didn’t judge him for his resolute philosophical opposition to belts. And then, at the end of Season 7, a door swings open to reveal Wayne’s fiancée making out with another guy.
On a trip to an American strip club, Katy meets Dirks (played by 19-2 alum Tyler Haynes) and they start going out. I like Dirks, in spite of him being irredeemable and never seeming like he was worth redeeming in the first place, because he drives Wayne absolutely nuts.
Every episode begins with a title card that says Lettermen is a town of 5,000 people, of whom some 4,500 are apparently preposterously good-looking millennials. Despite fistfights breaking out on every corner and hard drugs being thrown around like snowballs, there is no police, no school, and no government of any kind that we see.
In practice, the government of Lettermen is Wayne, who fixes problems, brokers peace, and beats up dissenters. The rotund former NHL er who dominated the National Senior Ice Hockey Championship until Shores took him out in the final.
JJ-Frankie-JJ, as he’s referred to in a quantum leap for hockey nicknames, doesn’t talk much (except on the scoreboard), but he reappeared at the end of Season 9 as part of Bro dude’s Vol tron of villains, along with AIK, Dirks, and (perhaps) Marie-Fred. Starting with the Season 4 finale, in which Sportscaster anchor Dan O’Toole recounts a curling brawl between teams from Lettermen and his hometown of Peterborough, TSN has loaned out some of its biggest names for cameo appearances.
And some cameos are pretty good: Kate Bareness’s reaction to Tanks hitting on her on live TV is outstanding, and the hyperactive banter of the O’Toole-Onrait Sportscaster translates to Lettermen just as well as you might expect. And while the fast-talking auctioneer gag still plays, he’s evolved in several seasons into a more well-rounded character, expressing a love for Brooks & Dunn’s “Boot Scooting’ Boogie” and entering into a serious relationship with Gail.
She and Rosie, Wayne’s once and current girlfriend, are about 20 spots higher on this list than they were on the first draft, which I drew up before Season 9. The show’s most recent season, though, gave both Bonnie and Rosie more to do than to stand around and look pretty, which is welcome considering how little personality they’d been allowed to have beforehand.
The Murray, as a duo, have always been enjoyable because of their unconventional marriage, love of hot tubs, and habit of refusing to open their mouths while speaking. But throughout the show’s run, Mrs. Murray has gotten progressively more drunk, and we’re about two seasons from her becoming entirely unintelligible.
Tyson’s assertion that the Deg ens From Upcountry are “homophobia” makes me fall over laughing every time I hear it. The first time I watched Lettermen it took me so long to get a handle on the Skids that Devon was off the show before I realized how funny he was.
Few supporting characters have dominated an episode the way Devon dominated Season 1’s “Fart book.” Like GAE, he probably needed to leave the show in order to allow Stewart and Roald to reach their full potential, but he was an absolute riot during his brief run. Lettermen is full of great physical comedy, but Gail is one of the three funniest walkers/standers in TV history.
Dan isn’t just a fountain of hysterical rejoinders like, “Oh yeah, me and Gordon Ramsay are both morons” and “You think this is the PGA? But even though Dan’s attendance at Professor Tricia’s women’s studies class is played for laughs, he does put a check on Wayne’s (and, to a lesser extent, Darry’s) more caveman-like tendencies.
Stewart and Wayne once ran an attack ad saying as much during the AG hall elections in Season 2. But he and Wayne share a love of farming, fighting, and drinking, and they’re firm friends.
In nine seasons of rapid-fire puns, the pinnacle might be Ron using baseball innuendo to get Katy hot and bothered at a speed-dating event. Some Lettermen characters, like Tyson and Joint Boy, took a while to get fully integrated into the show, but DAX and Ron were bantering at an elite level from the moment they first appeared in Season 4.
She also dunked on a pretty high percentage of my L.A.-based coworkers who love to talk about how good the hikes and tacos are there. I’ve been seeing the word “limbo” get thrown around a lot recently on this great internet of ours.
Eleven of my top 15 Lettermen characters come from the hockey quarter of the show, and seven of those exist mostly to insult Reilly and Jones. Even after a season of Letterkenny’s unique dialogue style, the introduction of (in order) Bart's, Yorkie, Schultz, Risky, and Boomtown is a total shock.
They take the show’s around-the-horn joke-telling format and apply it to everything from loving their wives (and later, Angie, to the team’s peril) to diarrhea to the Canadian Indian Act of 1876. The only reason the Newfoundlander's’ bit works so well is that Bart's, Yorkie, et al. are so flabbergasted they can’t chirp coherently anymore.
Jokes like “Your lives are so fucking pathetic I ran a charity 15K to raise awareness for it,” and more “Your mom” lines than all of post-2000 TV put together. Coach takes Letterkenny’s rapid-fire round-robin joke format and turns it into a one-man tour de force.
At one point, while the Irish are on a losing streak, Coach boots a trash can into the dressing room and shouts, “Fuck me, do you FUCK DOG!” I hear that line every time I watch a baseball game and a relief pitcher blows a lead, and also sometimes in my sleep. The funniest sequence in Season 9 comes when the Hicks are sitting at the bar at Modern’s, hurling insults at Stewart and Roald.
Over the summer, there was one of those Twitter prompts asking people to name a TV character who makes you laugh every second they’re on screen. But the only two actresses who talk are Kelly McCormack and Jess Salguero, while about a dozen extras try and fail to hold it together in the background.
Her filmstrip’s got more skid marks than a runaway truck lane on a coastal mountain highway.” I know I couldn’t. She was putting Wayne in his place before Dirks was even on the show’s radar and insulting Reilly and Jones the instant she appeared on screen.