Nothing gets a Canadian’s attention quicker than a mention on an American TV show. It happened again over the weekend as Saturday Night Live did a goof on Quebec television.
The sketch opened with a (rather lame) CBC joke. A CBC station ID showed that Schitt’s Creek would be followed by “Schatt’s Cabin.” Then it launched straight into a parody of French Canadian morning shows, this one called “Bonjour Hi!” (See video clip, above.)
The anchors were played by Bowen Yang — the 29-year-old writer-performer who spent his early school years in Montreal — and Kate McKinnon. Among the new writers contributing to SNL this season is Second City alumni and Toronto native Celeste Yim, and she was in on this sketch.
The morning show was supposedly “live from Montreal,” a city described as “the best part of Canada and the worst part of France.”
The anchors squawked along in Franglais. McKinnon’s character smoked on air; Yang kept mentioning south shore Montreal neighbourhoods Brossard-Longueil.
It reminded me of when Conan O’Brien took his NBC show north to Toronto for a week a dozen years ago and had Triumph the Insult Comedy Dog visit Quebec. I was working at the Toronto Sun at the time and the story was front page news for every episode.
It was all fun and games until the sketch where Triumph visits “Rue des Pussies.” That’s when my distant French hackles started to rise.
It’s a touchy time to start poking fun at regions and societies. America is so divided making fun of, say, Floridians or Angelenos is more and more a no-no. Blame Canada time, then, and what better target than the giddy energy and flavour on full display every morning on Quebec television.
SNL did cross the line, however, when they took at shot at Montreal bagels. Zut alors!
The episode also featured Jim Carrey (in his third appearance as presidential candidate Joe Biden), Justin Bieber (as the night’s musical guest) and a Céline Dion sign-off. Guest host Issa Rae was also shown up the CN tower, looking for Drake. It was just Tim Horton’s and poutine away from some sort of Am-Can-Con record.
Many Canadians will have seen the sketch. SNL is off to a hot start this season on Global, with close to two million viewers catching the Oct. 3 season premiere. New episodes continue for the next two weeks at the US election date nears, with Adele making her hosting debut this coming Saturday.