As I mentioned in the last post, this will be the first of three posts touching on virtually-created comedy.
Têtes à claques has become an iconic mainstay of Québec pop-culture.
It’s a humorous claymation series (animation using clay), but with the creator’s actual mouth and eyes being overlayed onto the faces of the characters. There are now hundreds of episodes. Although the online series has been going strong for a decade, it continues to become more and more popular – almost to the point that you’re not “normal” if you don’t, or have not watched it (much like it would be nearly impossible to find an Anglophone in North America who has not watched the Simpsons… Did you know Homer was modelled after creator Matt Groening’s father, “Homer”, from small-town Saskatchewan?). Just as Anglophones instantly recognize the Simpson’s characters, Francophones instantly recognize the Tête à claques characters. Matt Groening is a household name because of his Simpson’s creation, and Michel Beaudet is a household name in Québec because of his Têtes à claques creation.
The series is filmed in a hilarious type of joual, mocking situations of daily Québec life. This combination lends even more appeal to the series, and brings the jokes home. It has now picked up a fan-base in France, possibly in large part because of the comedic appeal of Québécois joual for French audiences (people in France find a certain appeal in our French accent — it’s always funny to get comments about our accent whenever I travel to France for work).
The website has become extremely popular, to the point that it’s one of the most viewed websites in all of Canada (I have read it attracts 8,000,000 views per month!… yup!).
Although the official website offers permanent free viewing, the series has been on-again-off-again on television (most recently being aired on Télétoon, the French language cartoon station in Canada).
Although the humour and jokes in the series seem to make more sense in French, Michel Beaudet has done some episodes in English (although some funnier aspects may be lost in translation, so to speak). If you’re not able to follow the French clips very well, when you enter the website, click the vidéos menu to find some English episodes.
Touching upon some matters I mentioned in the previous post, “Anglo-Franco cultural nuances in the use of humour and comedy”, certain themes in the Têtes à claques series might might be a bit more un-PC in nature than what we see on mainstream Anglophone television… but just take it at face value knowing that there can sometimes be a slight cultural difference in this sense.
Amusez-vous bien !