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Télé-Québec (Québec’s public television broadcaster, but perhaps only in fourth of fifth place in terms of ratings among non-specialty channels) is currently undergoing a round of budget cuts.
Last September, they launched Saturday Night Live Québec (SNL Québec). The novice comedians of the new series became instant stars and household names across Québec and Francophone Canada. They have since forged a high-profile media presence for themselves on talk shows, at comedy festivals, and in television and media in general. In a nutshell, SNL Québec allowed us to view the making of new TV stars (and boy, have they been high-profile the last few months).
However, the nature of Télé-Québec’s cutbacks have finally hit home, and they had to cancel SNL Québec. Last night’s airing could very well have been the LAST episode ever made.
For the moment, you can still view prior SNL episodes on Télé-Québec’s website, here: http://snlquebec.telequebec.tv/emissions
I’ve seen it mentioned in the media a few times that Télé-Québec is trying to sell the program to a different network- but only time will tell if they succeed.
Regardless of whether or not another network buys the show, the following TV stars have been born and are taking new roles across all media platforms:
- Phil Roy
- Virginie Fortin
- Mathieu Quesnel
- Léane Labrèche-Dor
- Pier-Luc Funk
- Katherine Levac
The show may have come to an abrupt end, but I have a feeling these six individuals will continue to be highly visible for many years to come.
This documentary, “Le Garage”, caught my eye the moment I first saw a short 20 second clip, and now I’m hooked!
I’ll provide you with trailers, and an official link for online viewing a little further below.
This is one of the most “real” documentaries I think I have ever seen. I have never seen a documentary quite like this one before; one which has surprisingly left me with a feeling of having a strange bond with the people featured in it, despite never having met them.
At the very bottom, I’ll provide you with links to official sites where you can watch the full hour-long documentary, officially approved for internet viewing.
The Trailer: Here’s how the film maker, Michel Demers, describes his film (translation) : “It is along the banks of the North Coast where we find The Garage. Between forest and sea, adults, children, and grand-parents all gather in the garage to tell their stories and to gossip. In an atmosphere in which everyone has each other’s back, you can sample the moose meat, trout, and mussels that everyone has pitched in to bring home together. Norman and his sons are mechanics, and are under the ever-so-watchful eyes of those who drop in and who watch from the side-lines”.
C’est à Longue-Rive sur La Côte-Nord que nous retrouvons LE GARAGE. Entre mer et forêt, adultes, enfants et grands-parents s’y rencontrent pour raconter histoires et menteries. Dans une atmosphère de solidarité et d’entraide, on déguste orignal, truites et moules que l’on a capturé ensemble. Normand et ses fils y font de la mécanique sous les yeux des gens qui “veillent” dans le côté salon.
THE STORY LINE:
The film maker’s brother, Norm, lives in a very small village, Longue-Rive, in the relatively remote region known as Québec’s North Shore. Norm is a mechanic in the village, and works out of his garage set up on his property. In small towns and villages across Canada, particularly those which are quite remote, neighbours have grown up together and/or know each other very well. In such places, people often do not lock their doors at night, and villages take on a family atmosphere of sorts (you can walk into your neighbour’s homes without knocking, everyone knows where everyone’s chilren are at all times, and adults spend a lot of time with each other.
In Longue-Rive, there is no bar or cafe. But the blue-collar nature of the small town makes it so everyone has a garage where they work (either professionally or as a hobby), and everyday life revolves around the garage (much like everyday life may have revolved around kitchens 50, 70 or 100 years ago).
I’ve personally driven through Long-Rive a while back, as well as many other communities like it along the North Shore, and all across Canada. In villages like these, it tends to be more cultural the norm, rather than the exception, to see homes with detached garages, in which residents work or whittle away their time (even in my own family, we I have a number of relatives whose lives semi-revolve around their garage).
Culturally, it is very Canadian to see this phenomenon in remote, rural settings, in all provinces. It’s something I have never really thought of before, but I think it’s an aspect of our rural culture. It’s a part of our culture which the film maker, Michel Demers, has captured beautifully.
In the absence of a bar or café in town, Norm’s garage doubles as the local hang-out for family and friends. People drop by in their free time, pull up a chair (or a “living room recliner”) and meet for a beer, to chat, to eat, organize group activities and just pass away the time. And it’s not only the village men who have turned Norm’s garage into their local “hang-out”. Women and children also gather to gossip, joke, and play.
Because everyone shares the same lifestyle (a love of the outdoors, catching up on community news, bonding as a community, hunting, trapping, fishing, clam digging, ski-dooing, etc.), there are more than enough topics for everyone to talk and laugh about. There is rarely a dull moment. People bond, and the entire village becomes one big family.
WHAT I TOOK AWAY FROM WATCHING THIS DOCUMENTARY:
What I love about the film is its simple and genuine nature, its innocence, and how life is uncomplicated for those we see on the screen. If one member of the community falls on hard times, there will be a whole network of others around to help pick him/her up by their bootstraps and step in until that individual is back on their feet.
Although I now living in our largest city (with Toronto at the heart of the “Golden Horseshoe” which counts over 10 million people), and even though I have lived in a few cities overseas which have ranged from 8 million, to 17 million, to 25 million people people, a film like this still resonates so strongly with me because I see so many echoes of my own early childhood in it; be it clam-digging close to home with my family, ski-dooing with my dad and his buddies, spending time with my dad as he did odd things around his own garage, or simply growing up in a small, isolated community in which neighbours spent the bulk of their time together. I talked about many of these things in a couple of earlier posts:
It find it quite interesting that so many aspects of life on the North Coast of Québec (where the St. Lawrence meets the Atlantic) are almost identical to many aspects of life on the North Coast of British Columbia (where the Skeena meets the Pacific), and a good number of other places. Fascinating stuff!
Apart from the various Canadian cities in which this documentary has or will be screened (both inside and outside of Québec), it is also set to be screened or has been screened in cities as far away as Moscow, Marseilles, Brussels, Chicago and Mexico.
A NOTE ON THE STYLE OF FRENCH USED :
The French accents and expressions spoken are those commonly heard in Québec’s North Coast region. This style of French has more in common with French spoken in Québec’s Gaspé region, the Atlantic Province’s Acadian regions, and the older generations of Prairie French speakers than it does Western Québec (which includes Montréal) or Ontario. (You can click the above links for more information on these various accent styles).
However, if your French is at an upper advanced level, and if you’re used to hearing a couple of different Canadian French accents to a fluent level, you should not have much difficulty understanding what is being said. Just be aware that even if your French is perfectly fluent, or even if French is your first language (such as for those from Montréal or Québec City), but if you are not used to hearing a North Coast accent, the super-strong accents of a couple of Normand’s buddies may throw you off here and there (there were a couple of times when I had to rewind to catch the words in a couple of different phrases).
SOME ADDITIONAL OUT-TAKES:
Here are some clips of people in the documentary talking about their lives and their”Garage” culture:
Here are some clips of reactions from local residents in Long-Rive when they first viewed a showing of “Bienvenue chez Normand”.
The documentary’s official website: http://www.micheldemers.com/?cat=67
HOW TO VIEW THE ENTIRE DOCUMENTARY ONLINE, FOR APPROVED VIEWING:
The documentary will be available on Radio-Canada’s “Tou.tv” website for free viewing until approximately September 2015.
The direct link is as follows: http://ici.tou.tv/les-grands-reportages/S2015E189
Subtitles (in French) are available in the video if you need them (click the subtitle button at the the bottom of the screen).
Happy viewing !!
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”:
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 !
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.
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”.