Posted at 8:00 a.m.
What would a beginning of the year be without a controversy that no one could have predicted?
On January 16, the columnist of the Montreal Journal Denise Bombardier rose up, with her usual sense of nuance, against these “comedian specialists in a language tinged with feces, pornographic sexual expressions and gestures whose symbolic violence should remain locked up in the sewers”.
An unforgettable flatulence scene from the Prime show LOL: Who will have the last laugh? had then taken the polemicist out of his hinges, an irritation echoing the many emails that your journalist receives from nostalgics of Yvon Deschamps and the Cynics each time he has the misfortune to sign an article about a humorist.
But is a joke invoking the dirty functions of the lower body necessarily an easy joke? “Using vulgarity like a punch, that’s easy. But a good joke seed, it’s as hard to write as a good joke of politics”, slice the humorist Simon Delisle (nominated Sunday in the category Author of the year / Show for his work with Guillaume Pineault).
“Are there more today than before, jokes sexual and scat? Yes. Are they always easy? No”, thinks for her part the humorist and script editor of the Sunday ceremony, Justine Philie (nominated in the category of Humor number of the year for her contribution to the monologue The fork by Korine Côté). She also collaborated with Christine Morency (cited in the prestigious category of Olivier of the year) on the writing of her show Gracewhich recounts without understatement many of his carnal experiences.
Among the artists currently on tour in Quebec who drink from this inexhaustible source, let us also name Jo Cormier (who devotes an enjoyable passage fromAnimal Bristol scale; you will google), Sam Breton (quoted twice on Sunday), whose show At peak and shovel ends with an anecdote of defecation in a place that was not designed for this purpose, Eve Côté (quoted in the category Capsule or humorous radio sketch of the year), who has a field day in the ribald, and Mariana Mazza, who elevated her vagina to muse status.
It happens, gratuitous scat or sex jokes, but there are many that carry a point.
Simon Delisle submits an example from his (excellent) show Invinciblein which he recounts having once seen at the gym a mirrored cabinet struggling to push iron with an intensity that prevented him from keeping full control over his sphincters.
“What makes me laugh in there is a bit of the guy who shits himself, yes, but it’s mostly male pride. That’s what’s funny,” he explains. “No longer the referent of a joke is clear, the faster the image enters the brain of the public. And when we talk about fart or sex, everyone has the referent. It is the autobahn of jokes. »
The professor in the department of literary studies at UQAM Antonio Dominguez Leiva reminds us: the interest of our species for this type of humor is not new. “As early as Greco-Roman antiquity, we find scatological representations. »
And that’s not counting the greatest English playwright, in whom was hiding a follower of spicy puns. “A man can break a word with you, sir, a word is but wind, and he can break it to your face; as long as he doesn’t break it from behind,” says Dromio of Ephesus in comedy of errors (written at the end of the XVIe century), an example among many others of this kind of replicas, numerous in the theater of a certain Shakespeare.
According to the great carnivalesque theoretician Mikhail Bakhtin, “the vision of the world of popular culture is linked to an inversion of the hierarchy of the body established in particular by the Church and by the affirmation of the lower body, in opposition to what was considered as noble and spiritual by the aristocratic and bourgeois culture and which was located in the upper body”, recalls Antonio Dominguez Leiva.
In a society where the grip of these values is no longer so tight, faecal humor would nevertheless still have a subversive content, but for other reasons. “Given the cult of the high-performing and desirable body which is very dominant today, everything that is scat is once again becoming a bit taboo,” says the professor.
The more we want perfect bodies, the more the expression of what is considered not noble becomes once again the source of discomfort, and humor serves, among other things, to resolve these discomforts.
Antonio Dominguez Leiva, professor in the department of literary studies at UQAM
End of propriety
For Justine Philie, women who dare to draw their subjects from the bathroom or the bedroom would be victims of an incorrigible double standard.
“We do not give the right to women, and even less to a woman who has the physique of Christine Morency, to be as raw as their male colleagues, and it is in this sense that her presence on stage has something political thing. Sex jokes are liberating and feminist for women because we continue to expect a kind of propriety from them. »
The importance of evenings in bars has undoubtedly also contributed to untie the tongues among comedians who are today a majority to release their numbers there, advances Simon Delisle. In a context where TV plays a less decisive role than before in the emergence of a comic career, there is no need to police one’s language in order to please broadcasters.
The good old times
Quebec humor was therefore well better before? “People who say that obviously don’t use a lot of humor,” replies Justine Philie, celebrating an offer that is more plural than ever. “The nostalgia we have for the past of humor concerns something very precise. »
How can we fail to point out that at the time when Yvon Deschamps triumphed at Place des Arts, the Roméo Pérusse, Claude Blanchard and Ti-Gus et Ti-Mousse practiced a humor that was not only bawdy, but sometimes weighted with serious prejudices towards the minorities ?
How also not to add that a flatulence, by the surprise which it causes, has something deeply incongruous and thus deeply funny? “Sometimes a joke of fart, it’s just a joke fart, concludes Justine Philie. And it’s very correct like that. »