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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky 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.

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 08.28.05

RICKY BLUE

No jokes needed - Quebec's Tongue Troopers make fools of themselves

People sometimes say: "You must be having a fun writing comedy these days."

"Yeah, they write it for me," used to be my inevitable reply.

There is always some political foolishness going on that begs to be satirized. And I seem to have been volunteered for the job. The latest gem by l'Office Québécois de la langue française is a case in point.

They are forcing The Monkland Tavern to vandalize a 50-year-old 'Tavern' sign that won a heritage award. Even though there is already one side in French, the English side has to go. So, the Monkland will have to trash the old sign and put up a brand new one, exactly the same except with an 'e' at the end of the word 'tavern'. It will cost the small business a small fortune.

So now I say: "This job is getting harder and harder." Because I am beginning to feel that the comedy of the OQLF is no longer merely the slipping-on-a-banana-peel-Peter-Sellers-type.

The kind of psychotic pettiness they are involved in has an air of tragedy about it. It brings ignominy on the very culture they are purporting to protect. And tragicomedy is damned hard to write.

Juxtaposing a petty story with a tragic story can be funny. Like how does this compare to what is happening in the Middle East?

Like the Middle East, it is a symptom of an endless struggle between two tribes claiming the same piece of land. And like the Middle East the OQLF is there to assert the dominance of one tribe over the other.

Let's see, if Alberta and British Columbia is our West, and the Maritimes is our East, Ontario is our Middle, Quebec could be Canada's 'Middle East.'

Let's push it further. Will there be retaliation? Will a suicide anglophone walk into a shopping centre in Lac St. Jean and go: "I say, don't any of you damned people speak English?"

No. We're too nice.

Another recent "humour opportunity" is the story of Michaëlle Jean, our new Governor General, caught on film toasting independence for Quebec, Haiti and Martinique. 'Scuse me, Haiti? Is that the model for a sovereign Quebec? Things are so bad there our government advises we Canadians to not even visit.

I sympathize with her, though. I once drank with a separatist. After we got everything off our chests we laughed and both admitted that Quebec politics is a big pile of poo. Adversaries could never do that in the real Middle East. They don't drink there. Undoubtedly they should.

We are nowhere near being the Middle East, thank God. Separatists here might want to dismember our country but in the real Middle East they want to dismember each other!

Ten years ago Mordecai Richler simply walked around with a language inspector and a camera crew from CBS' 60 Minutes to get something funny. And the hapless bureaucrat measuring words on signs certainly amused the American audience. There is not much that is funnier than a grown man acting like a child.

I know that making fun of the OQLF does make us - its victims - feel a little better. But it doesn't make it go away. To those people who believe that the subversive power of satire is to point out the foolishness of a government policy and embarrass the perpetrators until they eventually see reason, I say: No such luck. Our OQLF ideologues are completely impervious to ridicule.

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