Jan. 13 2016 12:15 AM

‘Trailer Park Boys’ duo hits Lansing

Back in 2001, John Dunsworth landed the television role of Mr. Lahey, a disgraced bisexual police officer turned belligerent, perpetually sloshed trailerpark supervisor with something to prove. An accomplished theater and film actor in his native Nova Scotia, Dunsworth, 69, figured his stint on Canadian mockumentary “Trailer Park Boys” would be a shortterm acting gig, just another notch on his belt.

“The first season of ‘Trailer Park Boys’ was shot at a real trailer park an hour away from my home,” Dunsworth recalled. “Then the owners of the trailer park saw the series and asked us not to come back. They thought we were a little too raw."

The show, which debuts its 10th season later this year via Netflix, is known for its outlandishly dark humor. It quickly developed a cult following thanks to its oddball cast of characters, including a pack of weed-peddling Sunnyvale Trailer Park hoodlums: Ricky (Robb Wells), Julian (John Paul Tremblay) and Bubbles (Mike Smith). A bulk of each season centers on Mr. Lahey chasing down the trio of goofball criminals and their sordid associates.

“The first season was a lot of fun,” Dunsworth said. “I had no idea we’d be going on and doing more. But it caught on, and now we’re in the 10th season. I don’t do demographics, but every year it seems more and more people all over the world are tuning in.”

But Mr. Lahey’s not in it alone. By his side is assistant trailer park supervisor Randy (Patrick Roach). An ex-prostitute, Randy is Lahey’s faithful sidekick/lover, known for his signature beer belly and severe cheeseburger addiction. The pair’s tumultuous, drunken romance has been the catalyst of many “Trailer Park Boys” plots — and has earned them their own zealous following.

“The show is irreverent. It’s a lot of fun, and people who love it love it a lot,” Dunsworth said. “I can walk down the street in Montreal with my fur hat on and coat zipped up to my neck and people will still go, ‘Lahey, Is that you?’”

The growing fandom led to a touring two-man live show featuring Dunsworth and Roach, both fully in character. The Randy and Mr. Lahey show, which stops Saturday at the Loft, is now in its eighth year. Silly and crass, it features a string of skits, songs and audience participation bits. The live show is loosely based on the television series, but it leans more toward a twisted, alcohol-fueled variety show.

“It’s like being in a traveling rock band. I feel like I’m a fish out of water sometimes,” Dunsworth said. “The live show is a bunch of tomfoolery. We’re in character and doing our thing.”

John Dunsworth (left) and Patrick Roach bring their "Trailer Park Boys" characters, Mr. Lahey and Randy, to the Loft Saturday night.
Courtesy Photo

As for how he originally channeled the drunken personality of his now iconic character, Dunsworth said the show’s creator was pivotal in the creation of the eternally inebriated Mr. Lahey.

“Mike Clattenburg was a masterful director,” Dunsworth said. “He used to tell me, ‘Give me six on the drunk and four on the angry.’”

While the show’s reputation has grown over the years, it’s still shot in Nova Scotia, a convenient location for Dunsworth.

“I am the luckiest actor in the world because I get to do most of my work near home,” Dunsworth said. “It’s a two-hour drive to the set of ‘Trailer Park Boys.’”

And when he’s not acting or touring as Mr. Lahey, he keeps busy with other network gigs.

“I’m also in two other series,” he said. “One is on SyFy; it’s called ‘Haven.’ We had William Shatner as a guest star this year. The other one is ‘Forgive Me.’ I play a Catholic priest. That’s a wonderful, intelligent show — a real joy to do.”

As for the few hours he has free from acting, he devotes that time to his family and other forms of artistry.

“I’m married and have four kids. They’re all grown,” he said. “I live on the Atlantic Ocean and like boating quite a bit. I also do stonework; that’s my hobby. I like building things. I drive to the quarry in my 1987 Ford 250 with a hydraulic lift on the back and I buy handpicked stone. I load it on, take it home and glue it together with cement. It’s going to be there long after I’m gone.”

Randy and Mr. Lahey of “Trailer Park Boys”

With Roial Improv Players 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 $25/$20 adv./$50 VIP The Loft 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing (517) 931-0103, theloftlansing.com