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“Patrice Lemieux” or “Daniel Savoie”? (#57)

In a strange twist, Patrice Lemieux is one of the best known Hockey players in Québec and Francophone Canada.  If the average person were to see him walking down the street anywhere in Québec, Patrice Lemieux would instantly be pounced upon by hockey fans (or by just about anybody) for autographs and photos.  The problem is, he is not a hockey player.  Nor is he real.   Patrice Lemieux is a fictional hockey player, personified by comedian Daniel Savoie (“Daniel Savoie” is not to be confused with the Anglophone Canadian actor / journalist “Dan Savoie” from Scarborough, Ontario).  True to Québec’s and Francophone Canada’s dominant hockey-gene and DNA, this character perfectly fills a pop-culture niche that could only exist in this hockey-crazy culture (well, almost… Edmonton and Winnipeg can also pretty prone to hockey fever).

Daniel Savoie is originally from Acadia (Francophone New Brunswick) – but was educated in Québec.  He makes in-character media appearances everywhere in Québec (and also New Brunswick) as Patrice Lemieux, playing the role of a satirical hockey player (playing on stereotypes).

He subjects himself to being interviewed on real television shows (as well as the radio), as if he were a real hockey player being interviewed.   He tries to give the most serious answers he possibly can to the questions being asked of him, but his answers typically come out as if he’s missing a few screws (likely from taking a few too many sticks and jabs to the head during games).  The answers come out as a hilarious babbling garbaldy-gook, complete with plays on words, hidden innuendo, and jokes in jokes.   The ironic thing is that the answers actually take a high degree of thought.   That’s part of the appeal.   The fans of “Patrice Lemieux” (including myself) can’t get enough of this dumb-witted, yet quick-witted character (Is he smart or dumb?  A question that leaves us as perplexed as Patrice Lemieux’s answers).

It’s very difficult in English to explain the appeal of Patrice Lemieux.  His character is intricately attached to nuances and cultural particularities of Québec and Canadian French.

There’s almost a “jock”-like macho accent and form of speech in French which is stereotypically associated with Francophone hockey players.  Lemieux doesn’t have an English accent, but it’s a type of talk which is influenced by Anglophone hockey players cross-trading onto Francophone professional league teams, mixed in with the high-energy type of speech we’re used to hearing from Francophone sports commentators.  Wrap that all together with the type of pep-talk that can only come from a locker-room full of sports players, the type of militaristic disciplined talk that coaches preach to team members, and then add a sense that he’s not allowed to stray from the team’s official robotic line, and there you have the makings of how Patrice Lemieux answers his interviewers.  His facial expressions as he talks, his age bracket (about the same as the average NHL player), and his real-life athletic build ends up adding the final touch of realism to whole package.

You may recall from the “Joual” post that I mentioned there are different styles of Joual (or French slang / informal speech).  This is definitely one unique style – true to sports culture.  (He also speaks with some of the hallmarks of a Beauce accent, heavy on “H’s” where there should be G’s and Y’s… true to a region where hockey is king!).

I’ve heard that many people actually thought Patrice Lemieux was a real hockey player – until they were told otherwise.   “Curiously”, Patrice Lemieux shares the same first name as NHL hockey players Patrice Cormier and Patrice Bergeron, and the same last name is Mario Lemieux.  (Coincidence??)

He (as Patrice Lemieux) has appeared on all types of programs, including some which have been mentioned in this blog such as Tout le monde en parle, Le Bye-Bye, En mode Salvail, Salut Bonjour, and even les Prix Gémeaux (as an awards presenter).  To put it bluntly, he’s everywhere.   And now that the 2014/2015 hockey season is underway, you can expect to see him all the time.

He (Patrice Lemieux) has a regular interview segment on CKOI 96,9 FM, styled on what would be a typical sports program interview.   You can listen to archived segments HERE on CKOI’s website.   Radio-Canada actually did an interview with the “real” Daniel Savoie (one of the few times I’ve heard the real-deal actually speak– hence why I keep referring to him as Patrice Lemieux rather than Daniel Savoie).  You can catch it HERE (click on entrevue at the bottom of the page).    TVA has also placed some official “Patrice Lemieux” clips on Youtube for officially sanctioned public viewing.

If you’re a hockey fan, check this dude out.  You’ll love it.  I’ve never seen anything quite like him before.