The Kenny Hotz Interview (or The Funniest Jew In Canada)
Interview By Pat Maloney, Illustration by Steven Snider


hen I asked Pat Maloney to write a bit about himself in the lead for this article he didn’t want to, which is understandable, because he’s a kind, hard-working and modest Irish/Italian man. But fuck that. I asked Pat to do this interview because he is in the midst of creating some of the funniest online video content that’s Canadian-made or otherwise and you can see it online here.

Now, Kenny Hotz is basically the best we’ve got in terms of alternative Canadian comedians turning their fucked up ideas and weird jokes with their friends into a viable and international comedy franchise. If that sounds like I’m selling him short, it’s not, because I’ve been a huge fan of Kenny vs. Spenny since its inception on CBC. The CBC of course did not know what to do with him and now here he is, running nightclubs with Richard Lambert and blowing his DVD box-set sales money around town..

I connected Pat and Kenny for a conversation about Canadian comedy and here’s how it went. -Ed.

What does Canadian television lack right now?


There's not enough?

If you really want funny stuff then you need Jews. Canadian comedy tends not to use any Jews. Maybe that's why Spenny and I did so well. We were the only true Jewish comedy for years and years in this country. I grew up on SCTV and one of the reasons why I went into the business is because there were so many Jews on it. In a country where political and prairie content reigns. It just isn't for me, or my friends, and it's not even really for my family... so I'm forced to do shit that they like and I like. There's a Jewish and a non-Jewish category and I definitely fall under the Jewish category.

How did Kenny vs Spenny come about? You were a photo journalist and a writer before, correct?

Yeah, I’ve been taking pictures since I was a little kid. My brother was an amazing artist and cartoonist and I chopped my finger off when I was four so I could never draw. I was so pissed that he could make art and I couldn't so I started taking pictures because I felt that it was the only way I could satisfy my artistic need.

If you don't mind me asking, how did you lose your finger?

I stuck it in an exercise bike. I was at the YMCA with my Dad and my brother. My brother was seven, I was four, and I wandered off into a weight room alone. I sat next to an exercise bike, spun the peddles, and put my index finger on my right hand right in between where the chain meets the sprocket. The whole thing just went around and [the space where my finger used to be] was squirting out [blood] to my heart beat. I spent two weeks in the hospital. I figure I would've been dead by now from a heroin overdose if I would have never chopped off my finger because it totally turned me off from needles. That was my first lesson. That we can fucking die. I learned that really young and I think it's protected me ever since.

A lot of people are unaware that you wrote for The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Was that your first big break?

It was a Ninja Turtles live action TV series. Well, not a big break, but they needed some writers to fill their Canadian content mandate. It was the first script I wrote and got paid for, for sure.

Was there ever a particular moment where you realized you were famous?

It's funny because I always had this thought that one day I was going to be famous. I was the funny kid in class and girls liked me. They would write me love letters and hide behind the trees in front of my house and shit. The first time it happened, I was in Chinatown with my family, years ago, when we first got on CBC and this guy came up to the table shaking, asking me to sign this napkin. I was just like “sure man no problem”. My family was just sitting there freaking out... We got really lucky. In Canada now we're pretty famous and it's strange but it's a lot of fun and I love it, I really do. Here in Canada it's a vacuum, there's no celebrity culture really. There's not much in our demographic between Strombo, Trailer Park Boys, us, what do cool people watch in Canada now?

It’s pretty limited. Was being recognized as a celebrity here part of the reason why you stayed in Toronto?

Well, I didn't. At first we went to L.A. years ago and I stayed there for about a decade. When the market collapsed I decided, fuck it, I was lucky enough to get shows picked up here and also I definitely like Toronto more than I like L.A.. Even though I loved it and it was very good to me, I grew up here. I was lonely in L.A. I lived in a garage there for five years without a b. I was traumatized by my poverty out there.

What do you think of the arts funding system in Canada?

I think it's good if you actually give it to someone who is making art. I don't think hard working people should pay for some guy to make a dance video. It's mixed for me because before I had the opportunity to rape the system I never got any money to do anything. If it goes towards making great stuff, fine, but if it makes shit then fuck it. Bad for business, bad for everybody.

On that note, do you think it's important to have entrepreneur skills to be successful in the arts or media?

Well you need entrepreneur skills for anything. It could be sucking a dick at Hollywood and Vine. You need those skills in life. It helps in any aspect whether you're selling soap or selling sketch comedy or music or anything really. If you're going to be a porn star you gotta be good at fucking, if you're going to be a comedian you gotta be funny, or you're fucked. It's a business, the show business, you need to show and you need to know business.

Will there be another season of Kenny vs Spenny?

I don't know, I guess. It's up to our broadcaster and I don't think they are really into doing that type of edgy content anymore.

Why's that?

Ask them. We're doing most of our stuff for this one company and they got bought out and the new owners have different mandates. I was very lucky to be able to do the show and be able to make it as fucked as it was. I had the opportunity to eat fake shit out of a toilet and slip Spenny acid which isn't a big deal because we used to do a lot of acid back in the day. I took advantage of that. It was a once in a lifetime shot where nobody was watching us and I could do whatever I wanted. Anybody in that position would have done the same. We did so much that I regret some of the things we've done.

But you get caught up in it and you either do it or you crash and burn. I had to compete with Family Guy, South Park, Jackass... I wanted those guys to be like “ah fuck, Kenny did it before us”. It's so hard because with The Simpsons it seems like they've done everything already in the industry. We did ninety episodes and coming up with new humiliations was very hard to do.

What about your new show, Triumph of the Will. Will there be more episodes?

I highly doubt it. I was removed from the channel I was supposed to be on and moved to some fucked cable channel. I'd like to keep doing the show and it seems like people really loved it. It's almost impossible to create new and original content nowadays. I gave them a very heartfelt, extremely cerebral, and intellectual show that evolves the Kenny vs Spenny wave to the next level. I'm really happy with it. For me, it was like “do the fans like it?” Because that's all I care about. Can I do something that is better than Kenny vs Spenny? Although it might not be funnier, it's definitely way better. I was really blown away by the reviews. I was so scared because of all the pressure, after we were done Kenny vs Spenny. It was the perfect show for me to do.

What do you think of Spenny's new show, Single White Spenny?

Well, what do you think of it?

It's really bad.

All I'll say is that he's way better at humiliating himself than I am.

What advice do you have to people who want to have their own show?

Don't fuck it up. There's two kinds of people who makes shows, especially in Canada, those who make shows for the money and those who do it to make great art. You have to decide which one you are.

Originally published in Winter 2011, Issue 6.1.