Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 02.11.05


The world loves a good Dick joke

There is a wonderful moment in the Larry David HBO television series Curb Your Enthusiasm when a comedian tells Larry: "If you want to survive in comedy clubs I have two words for you - dick jokes!"

Today I would like to discuss the Dick joke. And I don't mean George Bush's running mate.

I mean jokes like Mae West's famous: "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

Dick jokes are a metaphor for the dilemma of comedy. To make people laugh you have to break taboos and yet, by breaking those taboos, you risk angering them.

And no comedian wants an angry audience.

It is a tightrope all comedians walk. The trick is being able to speak the unspeakable and somehow get away with it.

You are not supposed to tell dick jokes. Yet they get big laughs. Indeed it is precisely because you are not supposed to tell them that they get those laughs.

They illustrate Freud's theory of jokes. In 'Jokes and the Unconscious' he shows how jokes release energy repressed by socialization in the unconscious.

Sex is the most repressed subject in our society. The comedian accesses those repressed thoughts. The subsequent release of energy is what we call "a laugh."

How many Freudians does it take to change a light bulb?

Two. One to screw in the bulb and the other one to hold the penis, er - ladder!

Actually this is such a highbrow dick joke it really constitutes what Hudson's favourite son Lorne Elliot would call 'a phallic reference.'

I know Freud has many critics. But I challenge his detractors to entertain a rowdy, half-drunk crowd at the Comedy Nest on a Saturday night.

Interestingly enough, dick jokes are better heard than read.

On the page, they look rather low and tawdry. Like this column. But I conclude that is because there is no body language to help one "get away with it. You need the twinkle in the eye - the "nudge, nudge, wink, wink."

Film and theatre critics sneer at dick jokes. They call them "cheap laughs." But all working comedians know there is no such thing as a cheap laugh. Every laugh is precious. Every laugh puts bread on the table.

"Thanks to that dick joke my kids will have new shoes this Christmas!"

Comedians are not social workers. We are here to get laughs. That is our job. If that helps people get through life then maybe we are helping make the world a better place. But we are simply joke engineers. We work with the raw materials we are given. And the dick joke is the rawest of those materials.

We cannot change human nature. Why is the penis so funny? It just is.

But what is the future of the dick joke? Merely the fact that I am able to talk about it here is an indication of the increasing acceptance of the form.

And here's the rub (as she said to me at the Bell Canada picnic), does this mean that it has become less taboo? Is it losing its power? Perhaps from overuse - like antibiotics? Could it be that if this trend continues, one day soon the dick joke will no longer be funny?

I hope not. A future without the dick joke is unthinkable. My kids need new shoes.