Tucked away in the magical land of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was the Sunnyvale Trailer Park. It was a place of alcohol, dope, cats and dreams. Where being a criminal didn't mean you had to be an asshole as well. Where drug dealers and burger boys lived in relative peace. Where shopping carts were the circle of life in microcosm.
Spanning seven seasons, a few specials and two feature films, the Trailer Park Boys experience has evolved beyond its original Canadian Showcase Network-broadcast parameters. Years after the Countdown to Liquor Day film closed the book on Sunnyvale, with the boys sending the camera crews on their way, the TPB have spread throughout the world.
First broadcast in the U.S. in an edited form on BBC America, the show was picked up by Netflix's streaming operation, giving it entry into millions of homes. Slowly but surely, it's becoming a Trailer Park world. Like The Kids in the Hall and SCTV before them, Trailer Park Boys has been a breath of fresh, progressive Canadian air for American viewers. The show itself had street cred by the metric ton, yet it still managed to be one of the most matter-of-fact queer-positive programs of the aughts — a combination soap opera, sitcom, "reality" program and viral experience (especially for U.S. audiences who encountered it like a phantom Videodrome broadcast).
John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells and Mike Smith have separate acting careers (perhaps you saw Wells getting decapitated at the beginning of Hobo With a Shotgun?). But it's as their respective Trailer Park Boys characters — rum and Coke-toting Julian, aerodynamic-haired malapropster Ricky, large-eyed cat rescuer Bubbles — that the men have been performing, pretty much nonstop, for a decade now. They don't just perform in character, they live that way (a situation they've slyly been addressing in their batshit-bonkers 2011 series The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Fun Time Hour). Now they're touring with their live show, bringing their impeccable repartee, gonzo get-rich-quick schemes and gleefully new combinations of profanities to cities throughout the world — and fortunately, Nashville is part of the magic.
Somehow, blessed by fortune, the Scene got to speak to Ricky one dreary Thursday morning in early September.
How are you this morning?
It's rainy, and it's Thursday; there's just nothing better to do than drink.
Speaking of which, you helped inspire a drink that a buddy and I came up with. Unfortunately, there's already a drink called a Ricky, so we called it a Reveen (after Canadian hypnotist/illusionist Peter Reveen, whom Ricky is often, frutstratingly, mistaken for). It's two parts Old Orchard Cherry Pomegranate juice to one part Tanqueray Rangpur, and it is smooth. ... How's life treating you now that you don't have camera crews following you around all the time?
It's awesome ... like when you've gotta pee, or you're trying to get some loving goin' with a girlfriend, you can't have camera crews all running around, ruining the moment. ... But I miss it, I totally miss it. I could always get some free booze from those guys. ...
What's it like for you and the boys now that your adventures have been spreading around the world? Is it a strange feeling?
It's not that weird to me; I just never thought that people in the world would want to watch it. But it's cool to go around the world and realize that everywhere we go, people are just like us.
Have you been given any difficulty by the American government because of your extensive Canadian criminal record?
Well, I have to sneak into the country, to be honest. And then some places, like El Paso, you've got dogs comin' around and sniffing around, and that's a pain in the butt. But I love seeing all the different states.
Do you ever miss the Shitmobile (a single-doored '75 Chrysler New Yorker and Ricky's place of residence during the majority of the show's run)?
Yeah — it was the only place I could get a really good sleep. And it was a good place to bring a lady back to.
Have you considered going back to school again?
Maybe. I mean, I've got my Grade Eleven right now, which is awesome — you can pretty much do anything you want in the world with that. ...
What exactly can audiences expect of the new show?
Well, I've got an idea on how to change the world through the school system, Julian's always about making money, and Bubbles is trying to get into some Jackie Chan thing and wants the crowd to help him shoot a demo reel.
Oh yeah. We can't wait to hang and party with you guys; it's going to be a fun night.