Saturday, February 14, 2004
Dogs, Canadians, And Quebec

For those of you who don't know, Conan O'Brien was in Toronto this week, taping Late Night for Sweeps. In the course of the show, Triumph the Insult Comic was unleashed on Quebec. This has caused quite a stir.

American talk-show host Conan O'Brien turned out to be Conan the Barbarian on his road show into Canada this week. His NBC program threw oil and matches down our national fault line Thursday night with crude jokes about French Canadians.

But that's not all:
The program featured a nasty segment taped in Quebec city in which the show's obnoxious canine hand puppet stopped unsuspecting residents in the street and crudely insulted them for being francophone.

It wasn't just poking fun, it wasn't clever - it was hateful and, yes, racist.
Just as racist as Don Cherry, pointing out a statistical anomaly?

To me, this is all melodramatics. See, there's a show up here, put on by the State-Run media, called 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes.' It's a blast. The entire premise is: "Let's recap the week's news, and interject humorous, scalding comment." Now, it's true that 22 Minutes isn't anywhere near as vulgar as Triumph can be, but the humor is just as sharp, and, yes, even uses the French/Rest-Of-Canada divide as fair game.

So what's the deal? All of a sudden, comedic insults are too much? Heck, Canada even has a show, the specific purpose of which is to insult American intelligence. Canadians laugh uproariously.

Lest you think that all Northerners are of an anti-Conan persuasion, let me point you to Vinay Menon in the Toronto Star:
Conan O'Brien is probably glad to be leaving Canada.

And, really, who can blame him?

After bringing his late-night show to Toronto this week - something no American television host had previously done - the gangly host with a sense of the absurd was treated to the ultimate absurdity: A nation deeply enraged by a hand puppet.

Oh, Canada.


Was it worth it? Or did a rubber dog destroy all of this in seven minutes? Personally, I'm outraged, disappointed and embarrassed. But at the reaction.

Unlike the NDP's Alexa McDonough - who called Thursday's satirical sketch "vile and vicious" - I can't believe this country was successfully baited by a damn hand puppet.
Jeff Jarvis has more on the issue, as does Debbye at Being American In T.O. The basic gist is "Get A Life, Canada." Or at least a sense of humor - which is ironic, because I thought one of Canada's biggest exports was comedians.
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