Canadian Jokes in 30 Rock S05 E14

"Yes, my daughter is Canadian-American, but I'm going to treat her just like a human baby."

Baby Donaghy was born a couple days ago (I assume the proud parents wouldn’t hyphenate because it’s un-American), and she’s just cute as a button. A Canadian button.

I really want to tell Jack not to stress about her unexpected citizenship since it could have been so much worse. At least Baby Donaghy was born in Ontario…which is just too close for comfort to Quebec.

As I watched 30 Rock from my apartment in Montreal, I began to conjure an image of Baby Donaghy at fifteen: if she’s born in Ontario, I foresee an affinity for UGG boots and loud cellphone talking (hey, shout-out to the girl on the Megabus to Toronto with the relationship problems. Sweetie, he’s just not that into you!), but not much else. She might be a little bland personality-wise, but isn’t that a great attribute for the populist politician to have? A tedious personality is just a blank slate awaiting the master craftsmanship of a political Svengali. This Ontario-born bundle of joy just might be the future lady President that Jack and Avery wanted.

But if Baby Donaghy had been born in Quebec, what would her teenage years look like? Well, for one thing, she’d be a chain smoker by age 11, her natural hair color would be obscured by streaks of Bloc Quebecois Bleu, and she’d probably have a thing for starting fights on the subway. Also, I really don’t know where she’d get a quality poutine in New York City.

So why is American humor about Canada so funny? Why has South Park inspired legions of American schoolchildren to chant “Blame Canada” at recess? Has Canada become our national scapegoat?

As Ricky Gervais noted in a recent cameo on The Office, ethnic humor just doesn’t fly anymore. His impersonation of a Chinese man hasn’t been acceptable material on television for at least twenty years (Oh wait, what was that recurring Saturday Night Live sketch again? The one where Fred Armisen plays Chinese President Hu Jintao and spouts a plethora of comically mistranslated pidgin Chinese? Nah, that’s totally different).

Of course we can always target gay people, evidenced by the frequent 30 Rock references to Liz Lemon’s apparel as “lesbian”–this week’s “lesbian clown shirt,” another week’s “lesbian Frankenstein wants her shoes back.” So that’s okay. A little light humor about lesbians doesn’t hurt anyone, but outright homophobia is a definite no. Same goes for women. We can make fun of them a bit, but rape jokes are out–unless of course you’re perennial fan favorite Family Guy. Then it’s almost a prerequisite for a hilarious episode.

So who can we laugh at? It’ll have to be humor that’s steeped in the great politically-incorrect comedy traditions of the past, so that means it should target a large group with some ethnic similarities. And it has to be a group none of us claim any affiliation with. If we just pick the Freemasons or nudists, we might get a lot of angry complaint letters or crank calls. So let’s go ahead and pick on the country due North. Canadians are so gosh darn nice that they haven’t developed a sense of outrage yet. We’ll tell them why they suck, and then we’ll send them our super awesome American TV shows because we know that they can’t get enough of our ridicule. Our geographic little brother is desperate for 21 minutes of our time, and sometimes, we’re altogether too happy to oblige.

Will the author succumb to Quebecois passive-aggressiveness (you might say I already did five paragraphs back), or will her American sense of entitlement and outrage win out? Stay tuned!

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