Nathan Dales - better known as Darry on Letterkenny - chatted by phone with CalgaryFlames.com's Ty Pilson about his upbringing in our city, his passion for the Flames, and how that love of team bonded him with co-star Jared Keeso, starting them down a path that led to the creation of one of the most wildly popular shows right now.
The cast was slated to visit Calgary and perform their travelling stage show at the Grey Eagle Casino on April 3. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, that's been put on hold, though Dales promises: "We'll get to come back to Calgary again and it will be awesome, it will be incredible."
Yesterday, in Part 1, we talk about his early memories of the club, favourite players, and what the 2004 run meant to him.
Today in Part 2, how he and Keeso used to text each other with puns from the last names of Flames players, something that morphed into Letterkenny.
Q: So, your mutual love of the Flames helped bond you and Jared when you first met and kind of started you down the road that became Letterkenny. How did those early conversations go? What was it about the Flames that created that cool bond; that unique bond that comes from just meeting someone and when you find out they are also a fan of a team you like, you're instantly connected?
A: That's kind of how it went. I was living in Vancouver at the time and so was Jared. We met through some mutual friends and we just kind of started talking one day, out at bar somewhere, and we started talking about where you from, random sort of stuff like that. Well, I'm from Calgary and I love the Flames and he was a fan of the Flames for his entire life. It was just like, boom! - right away - this guy is good. Alright, this guy is good, too. So what started things is we were disappointed a bit in the acting business at that time because we really wanted to do some stuff that we wanted to take part in. We found that we were going out and doing auditions for things that we didn't want to do, but forced out to go do. It's something every actor goes through at some phase. But maybe it's not a phase, maybe it's an entire career, who knows? What we found was we had these long text message lists that are like 50 or 60 messages long and I'd message Jared a pun on the last name of a hockey player and then he'd message me back one. We'd throw lines back and forth. Then we thought, this is kind of funny and we like doing this, so screw it, we're going to have fun doing this. So we turned that into a little short called Three Flames Fans. We put that up on YouTube. We did three of them. They came out to - I'm not going to say it was a hit. Don't think you can call it that. But we had a ton of fun doing it.
Q: And from there …
A: That's what started us down the road of thinking we can have fun doing this anyway. Jared was at the forefront of all that (Three Flames Fans). He was handling locations, directors to come in and do it. And then we did one called A Couple Jays Fans, as well, cause we're both Jays fans and then he came to me a little while later, now we're a couple of years into the friendship or whatever it was, and he said I've got this idea and it's called Letterkenny Problems. I said what is it? He said it's stuff you might encounter in small towns. I was like, OK, cool. In my mind, I was like whatever you suggest, let's do. We have a fun time working together. I don't care what it is or if it does well. We'll just have some fun, at least. It was five episodes and we released those over a period of months in April of 2014 - April, May and June I believe it was. So - it just started from us joking around and being knuckleheads, joking around with last names of Flames players and then it went from there. All of a sudden, we're doing a show, I moved to the other side of the country - it's completely changed my life for the much better. And it almost feels like it happened in a heartbeat. I know there was lots of time and hard work that went in, but it's crazy.
Q: I'm sure you get asked this a lot, but life must feel like one giant' pinch-me moment' for you? A couple boys talking about their favourite hockey team, the Flames, while in enemy territory in Vancouver morphed into this incredibly successful TV show, a cult classic already.
A: Yeah, it's crazy. Certainly there are those moments. I think everybody kind of gets caught up in things sometimes and don't really realize how good you have it. You can get bogged down in details. Why is this this way or why aren't I doing this better. But, 100%, I try to - and I'm not the best at it - but I try to always step back and look where it came from, where it was five years ago. I try to do that as often as possible. When you look back, you're like Holy Smokes! First of all, the acting career was basically nowhere and then we basically created this thing over two knuckleheads having a great time together. Kudos to Jared 100% for bringing the idea. That's completely on him. It changed my life, like I said. Amazing.
Q: Binge-watching TV shows has become even more popular than ever for folks as we self-isolate. Hard to check social media without hearing about Tiger King right now. I"m sure you know during this time there are a lot of folks getting a lot of joy during a very difficult time watching Letterkenny. That must make you very proud, as well?
A: I think it's great. I've gotten a couple of messages from people. It's great when people are locked in and can't go anywhere and people can put on your show and find some happiness. I'm glad, too, that we have enough seasons. I know they aren't that long but at least we have enough of them out there that we can stave off your boredom for a little while and hopefully you can enjoy yourself and shut down from the world for a bit. If we can help out in one tiny, small way, that's amazing. It makes me so happy to think people are going to be watching show I'm part of to make them laugh during a time of total uncertainty. It's great.
We asked Flames fans for some questions for Nathan. Here's a few and his answers:
A: Tkachuk, Johnny and Gio. As for a beer, Tkachuk for sure.
A: Gelinas Game 6 winner ... remember it well.
A: Salt and pepper, both sides liberally, cook over medium heat on the BBQ in the backyard with my Dad and Mom.
QUESTIONS FROM FACEBOOK
From Chris Van Walleghem - If you could cast a Flames player, past or present, for a cameo on Letterkenny, who would it be?
A: I would cast Miikka Kiprusoff for a past player because I think he would be super interesting to sit down with for a day and chat with. Also, he has a calm nature about him in net that I think would transfer well to the produce stand. A current player would have to be Tkachuk. He would be a natural for spitting fire and chirps at any unwanted guests at the produce stand. Also, I would want him in our corner if we had a dust up.
From Jacob Norman - How hard is it to keep a straight face during a scene?
A: Short answer - I don't. It's very hard to keep a straight face when there are so many funny people around trying to make you laugh.
From Rick Parent - Favourite moment on set?
A: There are lots but one of my favorites was having Jared Keeso almost in tears he was laughing so hard after seeing me almost throw up after smelling a jar with pigs feet in it for our Halloween special. Any time I can get Jared to laugh that hard, it's been a great day and a memorable moment.