Westmount comedic duo Bowser and Blue Warm up the Westmount Winter Carnival with Laughter
a review by Brenda Linn
Westmount writer and educator
The annual Westmount winter carnival got off to a hilarious start as Bowser and Blue played to a full house at Victoria Hall on Wednesday, February 1. They were in top form, offering a mix of vintage and brand new in a comedy tour from coast to coast (but not, notably, to coast – the North seems to be an area they, perhaps wisely, fear to tread.)
Their backdrop was a large Canadian flag, the name of their show an allusion to Canada’s 375th, and to their own 37.5 years as Canada’s most loved and feared musical duo. The fact that 37.5 C is also the normal temperature of the human body seems to have been a coincidence, but there can be no doubt that Bowser and Blue are still able to take the temperature of the nation, as they have done now for almost four decades.
Rick Blue began by telling us he and George Bowser formed Canada’s first openly gray musical comedy team. The audience, who were mostly open or closet grays themselves, guffawed, winced, chuckled and cringed at jokes about aging, pension-envy, early bedtimes, stiff joints and other, more embarrassing ailments. Certainly their classic “Hail the Colorectal Surgeon” was more à propos than when it first appeared. But, although the aging boomers provided much of the grist for the show, no demographic was spared, and no region exempt from their gently lewd but always loving satire. From the regions where you don’t tan, you rust, to the regions where nobody ever dies by falling from a height; we all came in for a grilling. George Bowser took on our own beloved city. His sole prop, a giant baguette, drooped eloquently when his partner trotted out the tired old chestnut, “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?”
A sensitive exception to the no holds barred approach of the show was made for the allophones. They were saluted with a warm Allo in a song that Rick introduced, “in the light of recent events”, with a serious and sincere assurance that our allophone neighbours and fellow Canadians are welcomed and are loved.
In more the directly political numbers, a mixture of love and unmerciful critique was directed at our federal PM. But the “orange elephant in the room” was given a surprisingly wide berth. After the show, Rick Blue explained that he felt that the situation south of the border was still a work in progress. His point seemed to be that you couldn’t draw a really insightful caricature of someone until you have seen him clearly. He did mention, though, that he still believed in the power of democracy, and that respect for that the democratic progress was the only way forward.
In their last set, the duo took us back 37.5 years to their early gigs at the Cock and Bull. These numbers reminded us that Bowser and Blue began as musicians, and their gray hair has in no way lessened their energy, their virtuosity or their fire. Sadly, the same could not be said for the audience. Virtually no one responded to their invitation to sing along, or to get up and dance: this although , or maybe because, wine had been available by both glass and bottle since the beginning of the evening. We did leap to our feet to give them a standing ovation, though, and perhaps we were merely conserving out energy for the more focused task of getting out and fighting for our democracy, and for the unity of our remarkable, funny, wonderful county.