Has it really been 14 years since we were first introduced to Kenny Smyth, the amiable Aussie bloke and portaloo plumber created by Shane Jacobson and his brother, Clayton, for the mockumentary Kenny?
“People still call me Kenny and quite often I get stopped on the street,” says Shane when STACK sits down with him on a warm Melbourne afternoon. “It’s a great thing to be remembered for. I’ve always said that it’s much better to be remembered for something you did than forgotten for everything you’ve tried, and I’m blessed that my brother and I have something we did that’s remembered. We love it.”
Australian audiences loved Kenny too, quickly taking the character into their hearts and quoting lines like, “There’s a smell in here that will outlast religion.” The knockabout comedy grossed over $7 million at the Australian box office and inspired a spin-off TV series. Moreover, it was the film that launched Jacobson’s career and turned him into a local hero.
“I do owe Kenny a lot,” he says. “Sometimes people ask if I’m sick of talking about him. While I’m not going to put the overalls on and keep doing projects as him, I’ll talk about Kenny forever.”
The Jacobson brothers were apprehensive at first as to whether their little film would resonate with the masses.
“We prayed that a few people might see it, and of those few, hopefully enjoy it and find it funny,” recalls Shane. “We love the character and think that he not only represents the best parts of our dad and our uncles, but also the best parts of what it means to be Australian, and our sense of humour.
“It turned out a lot of people saw it and really liked it, and we were thrilled. Kenny is my local hero.”