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FUBAR's Terry Cahill hits the road, ends up in prison with Trailer Park Boys


Call it a master class in improvisation.

In the second episode of On the Road with Terry Cahill, viewers get to spend six minutes in a car with Calgary’s Dave Lawrence and Bob Odenkirk. Lawrence plays his most famous character: a not-so-bright headbanger named Terry who was first introduced to the world in the 2002 Calgary-shot mockumentary FUBAR. Bob Odenkirk plays Bob Odenkirk.

The loose storyline has Terry being picked up by the actor and comedian while hitchhiking near Winnipeg. The star of Better Call Saul is in town shooting a movie, which was actually true at the time. But Terry does not recognize him and scoffs at Odenkirk’s modest suggestions that he is a successful actor in Hollywood. The episode is part of a series of short films Lawrence shot as a primer for his character’s appearance in The Trailer Park Boys: Jail, which is currently streaming alongside On The Road with Terry Cahill for subscribers on Swearnet.com. Lawrence was in Dartmouth, N.S., shooting with the Trailer Park Boys for five weeks in 2019, so he figured he might as well come up with a backstory for how proud Calgarian Terry Cahill ended up in a Nova Scotia prison.

“I’m creating content all the time just because it’s fun to do,” he says. “So I had a bit of downtime on weekends and I just knew if Terry suddenly shows up in jail there would be some question about how he got out east. So I convinced them to throw me a few bucks to make a little prequel series.”

And Odenkirk? Turns out he has known Lawrence for years.

An improv aficionado whose comedy roots go back to his early training under the iconic Del Close at Chicago’s Second City, Odenkirk first met Lawrence in 2013 at the Loose Moose Theatre. He was in Calgary shooting the first season of Fargo and wanted to check out the city’s pioneering improv troupe. When Lawrence discovered he would be passing through Winnipeg at the same time Odenkirk was there shooting the action-thriller Nobody, they reconnected. Oddly, he first approached Odenkirk to operate the camera for a scene in On the Road With Terry Cahill at the Manitoba Legislative Building, a task for which the A-list television star seems staggeringly over-qualified. So Lawrence asked if he would be willing to do more.

“When we were done, I was like ‘Hey, do you want to pretend you picked up Terry as a hitchhiker?’ ” says Lawrence. “He was like ‘Sure.’ I was totally surprised.”

Perhaps it’s not too surprising. Lawrence has continued to come up with innovative ways to keep Terry’s dim-bulb fires burning and the FUBAR franchise rolling. In 2019, he bought out director Michael Dowse and actor Paul Spence, who plays Terry’s mustachioed pal Dean (the Deaner) Murdoch, to become sole owner of the FUBAR brand. After the original FUBAR became a Sundance sensation and cult classic in 2001, Lawrence, Dowse and Spence reunited for a 2009 sequel and for FUBAR Age of Computer, a 2017 mini-series for Viceland. But with Spence raising his family in Quebec and Dowse continuing to direct films such as 2013’s The F Word and 2019’s Stuber, FUBAR has become a bit of a solo project as of late. In a series of recent short films, Lawrence worked with the Calgary Flames and had Terry recording messages for fans as a human mascot. In another video that went viral, he lobbied to become the “new voice of Calgary Transit.” He teamed up with Bret (The Hitman) Hart for videos in which Terry becomes the former pro wrestler’s driver and a mooching nuisance at the Hart household.

Having FUBAR meet the Trailer Park Boys is a natural crossover. Lawrence made the connection through Loose Moose alumni Norm Hiscock, a writer and producer who has worked on Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and was an executive producer of Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series for Netflix. He introduced Lawrence to the boys, who had him play Terry on their weekly podcast.

In Trailer Park Boys: Jail, Julian (John Paul Tremblay) and Ricky (Robb Wells) find themselves in a Dartmouth, N.S. prison while an increasingly exasperated Bubbles (Mike Smith) becomes their reluctant courier. They’ve been incarcerated before, of course, but are horrified when told the guards are now enforcing a prohibition on drugs and drink. Later, Ricky is delighted to discover that his cellmate is Terry Cahill, who had partied with the Trailer Park Boys during the aforementioned cross-country road trip. Ricky, Julian and Terry soon become involved in a strange bromance love-triangle, with Julian resenting Terry’s increasingly precarious methods to get high with a desperate Ricky using whatever products they can find lying around the prison. Those who thought the original Trailer Park Boys series was over the top should be forewarned that Jail takes things to a whole other universe in terms of raunchiness. Still, Lawrence discovered that the boys do operate with more of a road map than FUBAR, which was almost 100 per cent improvised.

“It’s a little bit different than what I’m used to,” Lawrence says. “Obviously, a lot of it’s improvised. But they sort of craft some of their jokes in advance and come up with language they want to use. That’s what was so amazing when working with these guys. On the set, they’d have lines that they thought of and would throw them to me and say ‘Here, try this one.’ Which is not my style. My style is straight improvisation. I don’t plan anything.”

One of the most cheerfully revolting gags, however, came directly from Lawrence. We’ll just say it involves Terry’s badly aimed urination after an ill-advised attempt to get high puts both him and Ricky in a state of psychosis.

“The premise was smoking bug spray,” Lawrence says. “Jail isn’t that great for Terry. He usually just likes to giv’r on beer and weed. So I figured I might as well commit to this premise.”

The Trailer Park Boys began life as a low-budget, black-and-white documentary in 1999, two years before Lawrence, Spence and Dowse brought Terry and the Deaner to cinematic life in FUBAR. Ricky, Julian, Bubbles, Terry and Dean seem to be part of a proud Canadian lineage of dim-witted hosers, which began with Bob and Doug McKenzie and continues on shows such as Letterkenny. While a reunion between Terry and Spence’s Deaner may not be in the cards for the immediate future, Lawrence says he is always eager to take Terry to new frontiers of comedy.

“For me, it’s always been the love of improvisation,” he says. “I fell in love with Loose Moose when I was 14 years old. I’ve improvised other characters. Terry obviously stuck. But I still get to improvise when I’m playing Terry. Some people might think I’m doing the same thing over and over, but for me, it’s still improvisation.  It’s like a drug, you get a rush from not knowing what’s going to happen.”

To watch Trailer Park Boys: Jail and On the Road With Terry Cahill from FUBAR subscribe to swearnet.com

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021

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