The tragedy of this article is that I can guarantee that the majority of the readers will never have heard of this fantastic program, I myself have only known about it for about 2 years. This was the way that the show was described to me… ‘I know you like things like Jackass, have you heard of Kenny VS Spenny? All you need to know is that one of them is a bit stupid and the other one’s a dick’. At the time, all of the episodes were on YouTube, courtesy of one of the shows creators and stars, Kenny Hotz. I started the playlist and I watched all six series over a weekend. I became enamoured with this show and the two gentlemen in the spotlight, Kenneth Joel Hotz and Spencer Nolan Rice. So why am I writing this, other than to gush at these two in the form of 1000 words. What am I saying? That’s exactly what I’m going to do.
So what is Kenny VS Spenny? This show is about two childhood friends whose whole lives have been a series of competitions and now they have it on TV. Each episode is a different competiton and the loser of the competition has to suffer a humiliation which is just that. One humiliation that sticks out in my mind is the one where Spenny has to smoke a joint made out of the crews pubes.
There are two unique selling points to this show. One is the competitions which do get absurd. Just to name a few; Who can stay awake the longest?, Who can stand up the longest?, Who can eat more meat?, Who can stay blindfolded the longest? Who can win a court room battle?, and those are just the tame ones. A couple of the gross/bizarre competitions range from ‘Who can keep a dump in their pants the longest?’ to ‘Who can produce more sperm?’
The other unique selling point is Kenny and Spenny themselves. To put it mildly, Kenny is the lunatic and Spenny is the straight man who constantly rolls his eyes at Kenny’s antics but in many ways, this is part of it’s charm. I do sympathise somewhat with Spenny as Kenny is a truly devious bastard who I wouldn’t want as a best friend but having said that, I don’t think the show would work without Kenny and his numerous schemes to fuck over his childhood friend. There are a number of competitions where Kenny has played fair and come out on top but in the majority of the shows, he cheats… a lot. In the competition, ‘Who can drink more beer?’, he gave Spenny cases full of beer whilst his own beer was a ‘non-alcohol’ brand. Sometimes it does get quite mean aswell. In ‘Who is funnier?’, Kenny’s piece for the judge was a letter that he sent to Spenny telling him that someone that he had unprotected sex with had been diagnosed as being HIV positive. During the competition ‘Who can sell more Bibles?’, he actually convinced Spenny that a script that he had written had been bought for $420,000 and was going to be produced by Robert De Niro. There is another one which has to be the worst prank ever played on anyone ever.
If anyone wants to look it up, the episode is ‘Who can bone more women?’. To me, this show is addictive for this very reason and all of the bad things that Kenny does just makes Spenny’s victories all the sweeter.
If I were going to recommend this show to someone, the episode that I would show them is ‘Who is the better actor?’ because if you have watched the show from the beginning, it might seem like the whole thing is tipped in Kenny’s favour, however is this particular episode, the audience gets to see the show from Spenny’s side and it is eye-opening if not a little heartbreaking to watch. In case you were wondering, Kenny won that one… by cheating. In his own words, Spenny is a purist and wouldn’t dream of cheating whilst Kenny doesn’t give a shit. Some episodes are a bit ‘hit and miss’ but the ones where Kenny is being particularly diabolical are my favourite to watch. The bible one is a good one along with ‘Who can stay naked the longest?’ which does have a good ending.
Unsurprisingly, almost all of the six series have been delivered by different broadcasters because they kept getting cancelled. The shows have been broadcast by CBC, Showcase and Comedy Central whilst the pilot episode was shown on MTV.
And now, a teeny bit of criticism.
Giving that this is meant to be reality TV, I can’t help but feel that Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice are exaggerated characters purposefully created for the show. For a start, Kenny wants to be liked way too much and to a rather worrying degree and as for Spenny, no one is that gullible. He sometimes gives the impression that he wants to quit and even does leave the show in one episode. He makes frequent comments as to how he is ‘too smart’ to be doing this television show. Let me tell you something, mate, a lot of people would give any number of limbs to have their own TV show. As for the ‘too smart’ comment, Spenny? Who won the ‘Who is the bigger idiot?’ competition, Spenny. But like I said, I don’t get the impression that this is what these two are actually like as people. If they are, then it’s definitely not to the degree that it is when they are on camera.
After the show ended, Kenny and Spenny went their separate ways and have not appeared together on television since. They embarked on a number of unsuccessful solo projects. Kenny wrote and starred in a show called ‘Testees’ which centred around test subjects in a lab. He had another show called ‘Triumph of the Will’ which was very much centred around himself. In this show, he tried to get his mother laid and tried to legally become a cannibal. Kenny has prided himself on being original and showing what no one has seen before on TV. He certainly has done that.
In terms of Spenny’s career, he did a show called ‘Single White Spenny’ which Kenny affectionately refers to as ‘Single Season Spenny’. This show revolves around an alternate Spencer Rice as he dates different women after a divorce. The show was cancelled after one season due to poor ratings. Bear in mind that ‘Testees’ was cancelled for very much the same reason. I don’t know why ‘Triumph of the Will’ was cancelled but I can only imagine it was because it was too extreme for television. I think that the reason these shows failed was simply because Kenny and Spenny are stronger when they are together.
The audience loves to see these two compete and so do I.
In recent years, Kenny and Spenny have joined forces to do a live show which is basically what their show was but in front of a live audience. In interviews, they have said that they would have done another series and even a movie but they have had difficulty securing funding. Some kind of a deal with Netflix was also mentioned. I personally would love to see more. Sadly, the episodes on YouTube have been taken down but the DVD’s are still available. I would strongly urge anyone who hasn’t seen it, to get a hold of this amazing show, clear yourself a weekend and just watch them all from start to finish. The competitions get more extreme as the series goes on and it is like nothing else that is on television. It’s not exactly sophisticated but dumb fun doesn’t get nearly enough credit.