Friday, January 12, 2007

Canada's Leading Export

Wife is Canadian, which I do not hold against her, although isn't something I like known in public.

Canucks can be an odd bunch. Canadians hate Americans. They really do talk funny, and they are obsessed with hockey, much worse than any Yank (as they are wont to call us) is besotted with baseball or football. And they hate Americans.

On the plus side, Canada has given us excellent advances in cuisine, particularly in doughnuts and beer. Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, and Robertson Davies are Canucks. They have spectacular scenery and they have Montreal. Best of all, they can be hilarious.

Second City's Toronto outpost and its extension, SCTV, gave the world Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, Catherine O'Hara, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, and, lest we never forget, the late, great John Candy. That's not to mention "The Kids in the Hall," "Trailer Park Boys," and Jim Carrey, who, I understand, has fans who actually think he's a laff riot.

Now, I point you to another great comedic innovation from the Great White North: the Canadian Public Service Announcement.

Before you read further, watch the video below. You will find it disturbing or you will die laughing.

This is undoubtedly one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

The television show mentioned above is an appropriate reference: the guy goes flying through the air like an SCTV dummy. I didn't think, "Wow! Drinking and driving is awful!" but rather "That's what you get when you're a pompous ass talking into a camera and not paying attention to what's going on around you. I also thought, "That's awesome."

I literally laughed until it hurt. Wife came over to look at me, and must of thought me a sicko. But as Mel Brooks said, "I stub my toe, it's a tragedy. You fall into a hole and die, that's comedy." (Similar spots put out by the same outfit show people hurt in car crashes, and are definitely not humorous.)

There are also two other Canadian PSAs worth viewing, though I am reticent to post them. They show violence against women, which is not humorous in the least. However, these PSAs are so far over the top that they left me with my mouth hanging open, in the "I can't believe they actually did this" sense of things. (See them here and here. Warning: at least one of you will find these offensive, or offensive that I found any type of humor in them.)

What will strike anyone about all of these PSAs is the violence, the idea being that showing a car crash or woman being soaked in hot coffee will horrify the viewer to think, "Hey, maybe drinking and driving or this domestic violence thing isn't so great after all!"

I came across these nuggets as I was trying to recall yet another PSA from our friends north of the border, in one of my all-time pieces of lost television. In the spot, a man throwing down a Molson's and his daughter are seen leaving a cookout.

We then see the father and daughter driving away. Dad runs through a stop sign, the daughter screams "Daaaaaaad!", and a semi tractor-trailer slams into the side of the car. (As my brother-in-law aptly put it, "The T-bone!")

Cut to the man who hosted the cookout. He's on the telephone. The look on his face indicates that he's just learned that the Maple Leafs have moved to Memphis, Tennessee, but it is something less serious.

"What do you mean?" he says. "They were just here." I don't know how the police would know that the victims were just at the cookout, especially the implication that they're dead.

(If anyone out there knows where to find this clip, please alert me now. I will name our first born after you, especially if your name is Raoul.)

Now you know where Volkswagen got the idea for its own car crash commercials, the ones in which two people are riding along in their VWs, enjoying an afternoon of farfegnugen, when they get slammed.

There are others I've seen from Canada: a gambling addict screaming at his computer ("It's not fair!") and a psychotically cheery Home Ec teacher telling us to eat different colored vegetables at every meal. All these pieces have one thing in common: they end up parodying themselves.

Now there's a role model

I have my theories why Canada puts out such sincere yet ludicrous stuff.

1. They are sincere yet ludicrous.
2. They need to get laid.
3. They hate Americans.

My best theory is that there is a dichotomy between the serious Canadians, those with utmost rectitude, and the ludicrous Canadians who make funny television and movies, and never the twain shall meet. Like I said, I SCTV might have made the video posted above, except it would be Johnny LaRue, Count Floyd, or Edith Prickley flying through the air.

And so you ask: Bookfraud, are you going to stop drinking and blogging?