Rick Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Rick 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.

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 02.02.15


If the freedom to insult is left only to comedians, is it really free?

MONTREAL | After the recent Paris murders, there was much discussion on Facebook about whether freedom of speech should be limited by the duty to never insult anyone.

The immediate controversy was stirred by the reluctance of many periodicals and TV outlets to not show the cartoons that were the cause of the murders. Their reasoning was that it would insult other Muslims.

But those of us who practice the art of comedy know full well the value of insults. In fact, there is an entire genre of offensive material known as "insult jokes." And the publication in question, Hebdo Charlie, made full use of it.

Last summer, I witnessed Don Rickles wow a theatre full of fans with this type of material and saw him hailed in the press as a master of the form. Indeed, once he got into his zone, he just spewed it out spontaneously. He channelled everything that we are not supposed to say or think.

But it is not only for old-school comics. I have also seen it practised by Russell Peters and Sugar Sammy. They will pick on some identifiable people in the first few rows. And the crowd loves it.

Why is this? If it is so odious to express any of these insulting stereotypes in every day life that we will be called a "racist," one of the most damning things you can call someone else, and that we risk being denounced, vilified and even charged with a crime, why is it we like to hear or read others do it?

Why will we pay to hear someone exploit this ignominious but seemingly indestructible seam of human nature and, rather than be outraged, we will all have a good laugh?

I think it is because we give a performer licence to break all the rules of society in the playground of the stage he or she is on. We give them that licence because it fulfils a greater function. The laughter it evokes somehow eliminates the tension of the repression of that which is inside us all.

There is also the question of satire, which excuses all manner of comedy. But I will not deal with that here. Although Hebdo Charlie was called a satirical magazine, from what I have seen it is more of an insult periodical than anything else.

And that was why the editors who would not republish the cartoons decided not to do so.

Insult comedy will always be around. Someone has to slip on that banana peel. Someone has to get hurt.

It turns our shame to delight. But it has to be funny. We have to know that the insulter is playing. Mean and serious insults do not get laughs.

And the audience has to know that each group will take their hits in turn. We will all be insulted together.

But here is the really funny part about insult comedy. It seems that now our civilization has progressed to the point that we are so sensitive about insults in real life, and how we are no longer allowed to make them ourselves, that we can only fulfill our desire for them by paying a professional to do it for us.

So in the end this particular freedom of speech is not free.

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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