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Rick Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Rick Blue
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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.

Rick 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.

He is also a columnist for Montreal's outstanding West Island Gazette..

His LCC columns are archived here

Posted 06.29.15

RICK BLUE

Montreal anglos know the power of irreverence

MONTREAL | There is a sensibility that is particular to Montreal. You can see it especially in the writing of the late Mordecai Richler. It is a willingness to draw uncomfortably dark portraits of our fellow men.

It is not meant to scold. There is in his caricatures a celebration of human folly, one that allows us to enjoy them because we recognize them in ourselves.

I can remember feeling that sensibility when I first came to Montreal when I was 12. There was a housemaster in my boarding school who was known for his dark witticisms. He had been proudly shaped by Montreal when it was Sin City. He had the same dark humour that one finds throughout "Montreal Confidential," a small retro book put out by Vehicule Press containing the columns of Montreal Herald columnist Al Palmer from Montreal's heyday in the 1940s and '50s. It is the same sensibility that survives in many of the cartoons of the Montreal Gazette's Terry Mosher (Aislin) and the work of Bill Brownstein.

It is so far from the political correctness of today that it is almost like hearing another language. But Montrealers still speak it. It is our chutzpah.

And another thing I noticed about life in Montreal not long after I arrived here as an anglophone is the importance of our local Jewish community. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that, being a minority in Quebec, regulated by discriminatory laws meant to render us invisible because we are considered a "threat," and constantly in danger of losing our national identity, we anglos are all Jews here in Quebec.

So this sensibility is how we get through life, as Richler showed by satirizing the antics of the Quebec language police. He created a template that survives to this day. And for that he became a pariah. To us, he was a man of courage.

But before that he had already upset his own community. His novel about Duddy Kravitz was a darkly comic story of a young Jewish guy on the make. Some found it infuriating. Some even called him an anti-Semite. But Richler knew how important this voice he had inherited was.

Duddy was eventually made into a film, one in which I was peripherally involved. I was in the studio as my best friend, Ian Ferguson, edited the famous bar mitzvah film. And I was also hauled back during post production to redo one of the actor's voices in a scene at the Laurentian summer camp. Whenever I watch that scene, I get a creepy feeling when I hear my voice coming out of someone else's face.

So it is with great anticipation that I am going to see the new musical version of Duddy Kravitz, which recently opened at the Segal Centre. The script is by David Spencer, author of "The Musical Theatre Writer's Survival Guide," a book that George Bowser and I often take as our bible while writing our musical projects. It will be most interesting to see how Spencer obeys his own rules of structure.

One thing, though, is for sure, he gets our sensibility. This is what he said about humour in his book: "The power of irreverence -- when appropriate -- (which is nearly always) -- can never be underestimated."

Yes, that is what this sensibility is. It is the power of irreverence. Maybe it's our superpower!

To read Rick Blue's complete column on the West Island Gazette, click here Rick Blue in the West Island Gazette
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