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Ding et Dong (#196)

Did you happen to guess the answer and cultural context for the last post?

If you missed the last post, click here to see the hilarious advertisement with half of “Dong”:

DD

The answer to the last post is “Ding et Dong”.

Perhaps you recall I mentioned in the post on Elvis Gratton that Québec had a couple of close equivalents to Anglophone culture’s Cheech & Chong, with Elvis Gratton being one of them (the on-screen component), and Ding et Dong being the other (the stage comedy component).

Ding et Dong were a very popular comedy duo from the 1980s.  But as you can see from the last post, people are still talking about Ding et Dong — to the point that we still see very regular pop-cultural references to them, such as in the advertisement which was the subject of the last post.

With time, Ding & Dong have become pillars in Québec’s cultural psyche.  In this sense, they mean much more to Québécois culture than mere comedians.

Ding et Dong was a stand-up comedy duo, played by Serge Thériault and Claude Meunier.   They came as an inseparable pair.

This inseparability was also the metaphor for the punchline of the jokes in the advertisement in the last post.  The advertisement in the last post was from the Testicular Cancer Society, warning men to be vigilant and have regular health checks, otherwise, you may lose half of the “pair”.  (In Anglophone North American culture, it could be as if the Breast Cancer Society made an advertisement stating “Thelma and ________” in order to entice women to seek regular check-ups).

As a pair, they (Thériault & Meunier, that is) spun off acts which later created some of the greatest successes in Québécois comedic and pop-culture history – most notably, the sitcom series La Petite Vie (the most successful sitcom in the history of Canadian and Québec television) and the “Les Boys” movies (again among the most successful movies in history of Canadian and Québec cinema).

I was quite young when Ding et Dong were in their hayday, but I still recall bits & pieces of their acts from when I was a child.  As I grew older, many of their punch lines became part of everyday vocabulary and jokes between friends.

Claude Meunier and Serge Thériault have reunied on the odd occasion over the years, and have brought Ding et Dong back to life for special one-off shows.  We may see some more of these rare stage-reunions in the coming years — and I guarantee you they will be the hottest tickets in all of Canada the moment any such show is announced!

Anyway, I’ll leave it there for now — I have to drive right now from Toronto up to Témiscamingue on the Québec-Ontario border for some work-related business (that might make for interesting post in itself).   But I can already see some potential posts on the horizon relating to Les Boys, Claude Meunier, and Serge Thériault.

Have a great start to your week !

A bit of humour – See if you can figure this out (#195)

Here is a bit of humour for you.   I just saw these signs around the more Eastern areas of Montréal (the most Francophone areas of the city), however I have not seen them in more mixed areas of the city.  the likely reason is that the cultural significance of these signs would be easily recognized in the East End where people mostly grew up in French.  But they perhaps would not be so recognizable in areas of Montréal with larger anglophone or immigrant communities who have not necessarily grown up in French or perhaps have not lived in Québec for very long (this serves to highlight the demographics and cultural decisions which go into marketing, but which also contributes to the notion of the Two Solitudes).

The cultural reference behind the sign, and how it has been used in this context is hilarious!  I laughed out loud the moment I saw the first sign.  People around me must have thought I was a “few screws short” when they heard me laugh to myself.

Here is the sign.  See if you can understand the cultural subtext (if you have regularly been reading this blog, you may have clued into it).

Click the picture to expand it, because you’ll need to read the two larger words at the very bottom of the sign to understand the goal of the sign.

DD

Did you get it?

I’ll give you a hint:   Several days ago, in another post, I made a reference to the same pop-cultural sub-context contained in this sign.    Here is a second hint:  A few months ago, I presented you with a link to video advertisement from the same charitable organization.

Still stumped?  I’ll give you the answer in tomorrow’s post.

Here’s the next post with the answer (click here):  https://quebeccultureblog.com/2015/03/02/ding-et-dong-196/


And on unrelated language notes… Above I used a couple of slang expressions in English.

1.  If you’re wondering how someone might say “a few screws short” in Québec and Canadian French (the expression I used above), you can say a few things:

  • Il lui manque un bardeau
  • Il lui manque un bardeau dans le pignon
  • Il lui manque un bardeau sur sa couverture
  • (In Europe, people might say “Il a une araignée dans le plafond”)

2.  If you’re wondering how to say “stumped” in French (a word I used above), you can say a couple of things.

  • In international French, people say “Ça m’échappe” or “Ça me dépasse”.
  • But in very local French in Québec, you’ll also hear “Ça m’embête”.

If you’re a movie lover, this travelling festival is for you (#108)

If you’re within a day drive from Montréal, or if you want to fly in for 3 or 4 days, here is an event which you might want to take in…

“Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois” is an annual film festival which will present hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Québecois and Montréwood films, all within 10 short days (a mix of long and short films).  This year’s Rendez-vous will be held from 19 to 28 of February, 2015 in the Quartier des spectacles / Quartier Latin district of Montréal (East of downtown).

They haven’t yet come out with what movies will be shown (we will have to wait until February 4th), but last year 300 films were shown, of which 100 were premiers.   That’s a lot of movies for just 10 days.

The festival’s official website is found here: http://www.rvcq.com/festival-32e

But there’s a reason why I’m bringing this up so early…

There is a “travelling film” component to the festival, in which they take the movies on the road across Canada – and they may be in a city close to you in the very near future.

In the run-up to the festival in Montréal, movies will be show between now and February in

Unfortunately, apart from Prince Edward Island, the dates have yet to be announced (the festival already passed through a number of other cities in the last few months).  Dates seem to be announced approximately one week in advance.    When dates are announced, they’re listed herehttp://www.rvcq.com/tournee-2015/itineraires/ottawa

But this is one more reason to check in with the local Francophone association or assembly of your province.  See if they might have dates, not only for these films, but for any others being shown in your part of the country.

Another tid-bit of info:  It looks like two movies already talked about in earlier blogs, 1987, and Gabrielle are among the line being shown in the run-up to the festival in February.

All said and done, even if you cannot physically make it to the festival, this still gives you an idea just how many Montréwood movies are out there each year.   Don’t be afraid to push your French and purchase some online viewings through streaming venues.   Even if your French isn’t up to par, many movies come with English subtitles.

Louis Morissette (#93)

I had mentioned Louis Morissette earlier, in a post regarding his wife, Véronique Cloutier (a television celebrity).

Morissette has, for the last 15 years, been writing sitcoms, doing stand-up, hosting gala events, appearing in commercials, writing and appearing in the annual New Years Bye-Bye, and basically appears everywhere (talk shows events, magazines, you name it).

But what is very interesting about Louis Morissette is how his career has formed a partnership with that of his wife, Véronique Cloutier’s.

Both Morissette and Cloutier are celebrities in their own right – splashed across the pages of cash register tabloids, and are the talk of the town.  Since their marriage, they’ve become the darling couple of Montréwood.

I was listening to a radio show the other day, and put the Cloutier-Morissette phenomena this way (credit to Denis Gravel & Jerôme Landry for this analogy)… picture this:  What would happen if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie decided to join forces and form a comedy act, not only for special TV events, but also in a stand-up format and take it on the road?  Imagine the public’s reaction and the popularity of the act.  Now imagine if the act centred around both of them taking shots at each other based on aspects of their marriage.   The public would go wild – they wouldn’t be able to get enough of it – and they would be talked about everywhere.   Now you have an idea of what is happening with Louis Morissette and Véronique Cloutier.   The other week, they did their first show in Québec City, and the public went mad for it.   This is one duo whose careers are reaching new heights.

Back to Louis Morisette… something that happened involving him is a good example of how politics and pop-culture can converge in Québec.  In 2004 he did a comedy sketch which mocked Pierre Karl Péladeau (PKP), the owner of Québecor and QMI (owner of the TVA television network and other media outlets – comprising about 40% of all Québec’s media industry).  Subsequently, certain contracts Morisette had with with QMI were terminated.   Artists in Québec (who traditionally support sovereignty) were outraged at this perceived interference by Québecor’s owner – and a highly publicized artists’ petition against PKP created waves in the celebrity world.   Fast forward 10 years, and now PKP is slated to be the next leader of the Parti Québecois (Québec’s provincial sovereignist party).   The question now is, if he leads the party into an election, can the Parti Québecois count on the traditional support of artists? – many of whom are associated with Le Plateau.   (Sigh… culture & politics… never a clean “separation” in Québec, and PKP carries a very mixed bag into the arena — the next election may have a fair share of flash points).

At any rate, I have no idea what Morissette’s political inclinations are (nor do I care) – I’m just using one event that happened a long time ago to show how lines can get blurred when culture & politics meet in Québec.   But I generally think that most people now just close their ears to it, and just enjoy pop-culture for what it is – entertainment.

Robert Charlebois – Mythic Three Series (#82)

This is a post on Robert Charlebois, part of The Mythic Three series.  The introduction to this series gave context for the golden years of Charlebois’ career – a period which defined him and launched the remainder of his career.

From the public’s viewpoint, there are very few musical artists who can stand on the central podium together.   Celine Dion is one of them, Ginette Reno is another, as is Robert Charlebois.

I would characterize his genre of music as a “founding genre Québecois-folk-rock”.  I use the word “founding”, because he set the bar, tone, and genre for folk-rock in Québec, from the 1970s until today (including much of the Québec’s chart-topping music, period).  Francophone artists, not only in Québec, but elsewhere in Francophone Canada, have also largely adopted this style of music as a national template.

Notable characteristics are

  • strong lyrics with regional context,
  • concentration on vocals (letting vocals carry the music, rather than music necessarily carrying the vocals),
  • the use of joual, and the integration of a local accent into the music (as with English music, regional and national accents in French can often disappear when lyrics are sung – but Charlebois’ music very much preserves his Montréal accent (rolled “Rs”, drawn and drowled vowels, local joual).  It was Charlebois who made it acceptable and commonplace to sing in a style using everyday colloquial speech,
  • a combination of abstract songs, abstract rythms and folk rythms (based on Québec’s unique mix of celtic rythms from pre-republican Celtic-France and Ireland – discussed somewhat in the earlier post “Country Music = Québec”),
  • lyrics (often nationalistic) with specific appeal to a localized audience (in the narrowest context, lyrics which Montréalers can related to — and in a slightly larger context, those striking a chord with Québécois at large).

A key factor in his career is that he grew-up and lived in Montréal during some of the most prominent periods in Québec’s modern history (with their epicentre being Montréal), and that his lyrics coincided with these events.  I’m not sure he would have achieved the same degree of success if he was physically removed from these events (ie: if he were to have spent the 60s and 70s singing and building a career from Trois-Rivières or Sherbrooke for example).

I’m not going to go into the list and honours he has received… just take my word that you can’t get much more decorated than Charlebois.

But I will give you a very small must-know list of his music.  Although these are only a few songs in a long line of super-hits, Québec without these songs simply would not be Québec.   Everyone has memories or aspects of their lives they can relate to these songs – they’re pretty much hollow ground.

  • Lindbergh
  • Je reviendrai à Montréal
  • Tout écartillé
  • Conception
  • Les Ailes d’un ange.

He’s also starred in several films.

His career has never stopped – spanning the early 1960s until today.  His song and album releases span 40 years, and he has also appeared in numerous films over five decades.   We see him at concerts, national festivals, on television, interviews, events, and his albums continue to sell.

When searching for his work, please do not pirate.  Robert Charlebois’ smile and heart for his music and fans is as big as anything.   Please stick to official sites and support our artists (they form part of our cultural fabric).

Charlebois’ Official website:  http://www.robertcharlebois.com/