Less Than Kind returns with its long-awaited second season on HBO Canada.
The first season of this comedy series, led behind the scenes by Kid in the Hall Mark McKinney, originally aired on Citytv in the 2008-2009 TV season to quiet notice — but it’s hoped that Kind‘s edgy, quirky tone will be a better fit for premium cable audiences.
Montreal-born actor Jesse Camacho plays the series’ 16-year-old protagonist Sheldon Blecher. Sheldon is the straight man of sorts, surrounded by his loving but dysfunctional family in Winnipeg.
Camacho is really two years older than Sheldon, but already has a decade of acting experience under his belt. Popjournalism caught up with Camacho in advance of Less Than Kind‘s season premiere to find out what’s in store and what he really thinks about his castmates.
When I told people that I was interviewing one of the stars of Less Than Kind, I usually had to describe what the show was about because not many people have heard about it. My description was that it was like Arrested Development meets The Wonder Years. How would you describe it?
Not many people have heard about the show. Your comparison is good. Mark McKinney likens it to a “not as edgy” Weeds — our rhythms are similar; and Freaks and Geeks is also mentioned as well. But those shows, The Wonder Years and Arrested Development are often mentioned as well.
Your character Sheldon is growing up a lot this season, experiencing more “adult” situations. How has that transition been for you?
It’s massive! ‘Cause you know first season, he was more like the adult in the family and he went through kind of quirky, funny stuff at school and that was great. Season two absolutely steps it up. The season starts with his dad dying in front of him and that’s a massive thing for him. And he’s told he has to take on the responsibility of the family, which is a lot of pressure to put on somebody who’s sixteen. And he has such ups and downs this season. Starting off in such a low place with his father and everything, and then there’s things with Miriam (his best friend). He falls in love for the first time and that’s a very new thing for Sheldon and for Miriam for that matter. The whole thing is really just a roller coaster. It’s not something that he can prepare himself for — or anybody can prepare themselves for, if you think about it. That’s a pretty cool thing to see.
You play the straight man on the show – surrounded by the comedic antics of the “family.” Seriously, how do you keep a straight face?
I’m actually not that good at it. They’ve edited the show really well. They deserve awards because well – actually I like to be the straight man because I don’t have the pressure to deliver the big punch line. I’ll help with the set up but they can take over and hit it out of the park. With Benjamin though — the end of this hospital scene, he bites into an orange. They cut to a shot on his face as he realizes that he just bit into an orange (he and I came up with this at the end of the scene — he said he should eat something like a French fry. I said no, you’ve got to bite into the orange — it’s funnier he says OK, OK). Well his reaction shot had to be edited out because there is no take where I am not laughing. Out loud, hard — I was busting every take.
It’s the same with Maury, Wendel — I can’t keep a straight face with any of them. Our editors deserve awards for editing around my laughs.
The show is set in Winnipeg. Did you experience any culture shock being that you’re from Montreal?
Winnipeg is totally a character on our show. You know, it just adds to the feel of it. We lost some shoot days because the camera would freeze — but it just added to the experience. Well, it’s definitely colder. They don’t get as much snow as we do. Montreal we get a ton of snow and it’s quite cold — Winnipeg, they get a bit of snow but it’s just freezing. Dry and cold — but luckily the people there are so nice that it makes up for it. Luckily in all my scenes, I wear a jacket, gloves but Benjamin Arthur who plays my brother Josh, was not very lucky because he just wears a small skin-tight leather jacket basically. The character is too cool to wear anything else. I remember him telling me that he was really reconsidering having made this character choice. When we’re on camera, we don’t have to act like we’re cold, there’s no acting involved — it’s just cold.
Here’s a chance to really diss the people you work with. How would you describe your experience working on this show?
Working on Less Than Kind with such talented people — cast and crew. I’m enjoying this job more than any other in my life. I never feel like I’m going to work. My least favourite days in Winnipeg are my weekends because I’m not hanging out on set with everybody. I just love being on set. I get along with everybody — the cast and crew, we all get along so well. It’s great to be doing something you love to do in such a great working environment. It is truly a privilege.
Less Than Kind’s second season premieres Friday, February 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET on HBO Canada.