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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 07.22.14

RICK BLUE

Notes from Montreal's Nasty Show

MONTREAL | I recently went see the Nasty Show. Apparently, it is the most continuous and successful of all the Just For Laughs series.

Many people complain about off-colour humour. Why do you have to say those words, they ask. Because comedy is about the breaking of taboos, I answer.

Most of the gentle and subtle humour possible to do has already been done. And done extremely well. And because comics have to stay one step ahead of their audience, new material has to constantly be found. We find that much of it comes from the well source of that which was previously censored.

Dirty talk, gross-out descriptions, and shock all work in comedy. They make people laugh.

You can see it in the new film comedies. They have to up the ante each time with new images. Many of them previously offensive. Pies in the face are replaced by more unpleasant substances.

And stand up comedy incubates in clubs where a certain demographic goes to drink alcohol and hear jokes that they cannot hear on television. I have worked in comedy clubs and I can tell you that simply by using the F word as a noun, adjective, and verb as much as possible helps you connect with the audience. And there are many other forbidden words in the arsenal.

What is interesting is that it is usually the older folks who object to this form of entertainment. They were raised under a value system that was traditional. One which is fast fading into the past.

Young people have no problem with it. In fact, they crave it. Maybe it is because they grew up in an era that has replaced these obscenities with an entirely new crop. In the 1990s, political correctness politicized obscenity. Now, it is racist, sexist, and homophobic talk that wears the mantle of shame. It is jokes of that sort that would really seem nasty.

So interestingly enough, I did not find this years Nasty Show to be very nasty. Dirty? Yes. But nasty, no.

But there was another change I noticed.

When I was a practicing vulgarian, we had found out that although penises were funny, vaginas were not.

In fact, we were once assaulted by the Gender Issues Committee at Queen's University (a crypto fascist organization that took advantage of a weak-spined administration by using politics to control the type of entertainment offered on campus) because we dared to mention female genitalia in one of our songs.

But that was then and this is now.

This year's Nasty Show is all about vaginas. Its male counterpart is almost completely ignored. So have we been liberated from taboos? Not completely. As I said, there were precious few sexist, racist, or homophobic jokes.

It is an interesting cultural shift. Each culture has its own sensitivity to language. We know that franco Quebecers, with their history of Catholicism, regard religious descriptions of the chalice, the tabernacle, or the host as being obscene. I guess it's the 'taking of the Lord's name in vain' prohibition.

But anglo Quebecers, with our Protestant and puritan history, regard descriptions of bodily functions as being socially unacceptable.

But now, the new generation is leaving this behind. And the new obscenities are from the political and social dictionary of victimology. So what is the common denominator? I would say that it is guilt. And so perhaps there will always be some things that cannot be said. Even at a Nasty Show.

Because there will always be guilt.

We can learn a lot about our society and the changes in it by studying what is considered taboo. I hope someone in the halls of academia (probably from the anthropology department) is also listening.

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