‘Trailer Park Boys’ star talks Duluth, NHL lockout, Colorado and Washington marijuana laws

From left: Julian (John Paul Tremblay), Bubbles (Mike Smith) and Ricky (Robb Wells) are the Trailer Park Boys. (Courtesy of Sonic Entertainment Group)

Duluth will catch a whiff of Sunnyvale today when the cast of the hit Canadian TV show “Trailer Park Boys” makes a stop on the “Dear Santa Claus, Go (bleep) Yourself” tour.

The mockumentary-style show, which aired on Canadian television from 2001 to 2007 and spawned two movies in recent years, follows the lives of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, three foul-mouthed, booze- and drug-filled underachievers who have a tough time avoiding jail. Most of the show takes place inside the confines of Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

After a successful run as Showcase TV’s highest-rated program, “Trailer Park Boys” continued to grow a devoted worldwide cult following through DVD sales, Netflix instant streaming and airing in 15 countries. Shooting for a third film begins in March.

Joining Ricky (Robb Wells), Julian (John Paul Tremblay) and Bubbles (Mike Smith) onstage for the show at DECC Symphony Hall are park supervisor Jim Lahey (John Dunsworth) and assistant Randy (Patrick Roach).

Wells spoke with the DNT this week about the tour, show, trailer parks in Duluth, the NHL lockout; Colorado and Washington voting to legalize marijuana, and just what makes these guys so lovable.

DNT: When did you first realize that “Trailer Park Boys” was a phenomenon and pretty big deal to people?

Robb Wells: We’re still starting to realize it, I guess. It’s always been big in Canada, obviously, but it seemed like it just went a little slower across the border in the U.S. Now with Netflix, it’s really, really picked up a lot of steam; it’s big over in Europe and England, Ireland, Scotland. We’ve been to Australia and New Zealand. It really is phenomenal; it’s crazy. We had no idea that it would ever get this big.

DNT: When you first got into the show, was it a year-by-year, season-by-season deal?

RW: Originally, it was only supposed to be a six-episode miniseries kind of a thing. The response was really, really great, and we need another season right away before the first one even aired. As it gets selected to do more and more, trying to keep everyone together has been a challenge, to say the least.

DNT: Every time I watch the show, it seems that a lot of it is improvised. What gives it that real feel or that authenticity is some of the motions that the characters make or if somebody drops something, it looks so unintentional.

RW: Everything’s fully scripted, but we always improvise based on the script, on the vague kind of things. We’ll shoot some scripted takes then we’ll play around a little bit. That’s why it has a more real feel to it. That’s the whole intention of trying to make it as much like reality TV mockumentary as we can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We definitely play around with pretty much every scene, based on the script.

DNT: The Duluth area does have a few trailer parks. What advice would you have for their park supervisors on making improvements?

RW: (laughs) Well, I’m not sure how the parks are there, but if they’re anything like Sunnyvale with Mr. Lahey, try to keep them under control. But it’s all about having fun. Make it as fun as you can, and people get along more for some reason.

DNT: Out of all of the park supervisors Sunnyvale has had, who was the best?

RW: Well, I can’t say me, I guess. I think Lahey’s a good supervisor. If he stayed off the alcohol and just minded his own business more, the whole community would get along better and there wouldn’t be so much trouble with police around. Randy was a lot easier going, so maybe Randy would be the best one.

DNT: Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana. Would Ricky (known marijuana smoker and grower) consider moving south of the border?

RW: It’s good to know he can’t get in trouble or get busted, but with it being legalized there’d be a lot more of it around, so it’d be hard for him to make a living. I guess his stuff is supposedly the best; it probably would be a good place for him to go live and find some good clients and make a living and not worry about going to jail again.

DNT: What do you think about the NHL lockout?

RW: I’m a huge hockey fan (don’t get him started on his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs) and it’s very disappointing. Last week it looked like they were making some ground, like they were going to resolve it. Now it’s worse than ever, I guess. I really don’t think we’re going to see a season this year, unfortunately, and it’s really sad for all those fans and all the players as well. It’s very unfortunate.

DNT: Have you been to Minnesota before?

RW: Yeah, I have a few times; it’s very pretty.

DNT: How has the tour gone?

RW: The strange thing about the show is the demographic is anywhere from teenagers up to senior citizens. It’s a very diverse crowd, which is nice. It’s nice to have all five of us (cast members) for a change. There’s something in the show for everybody.

DNT: What makes these guys so beloved? They do some horrible things, but they’re so endearing. What is the quality that makes that so?

RW: When we’re writing, the one thing is that because these characters are so crazy — there’s guns and dope and so much swearing involved — we have to have a lot of heart. We try to keep as much heart as we can, with family and friends and just love. Although these characters are crazy and out of control, they’d do anything for their family and friends. I think that’s what redeems them in all of the craziness.


What: “Trailer Park Boys: Dear Santa, Go (bleep) Yourself”
When: 8 p.m. today (doors open at 7 p.m.)
Where: DECC Symphony Hall
Tickets: $36.50 and $42, ticketmaster.com and DECC box office

This Q&A originally appeared on duluthnewstribune.com.