Funny is in the chuckle of the beholder.
Whether it’s your favourite comedy, stand-up bit, or joke you stole from your ex-best friend, there’s really no way to know whether your comedic taste will resonate with those around you.
If you’re able to tap into that elusive thing called Canadian humour, you might just find yourself with a punchline that all your maple syrup drenched compatriots can find a laugh in. So what are the features of Canadian humour? Self-reflexivity, for one thing. We as Canadians like to laugh at the mirror, though not necessarily in a deprecating way.
We laugh at political tensions, the ongoing question of how to define ourselves, the perceptions we have of each other, the perceptions others have of us. On the one hand, we laugh at the different “types” of Canadian one comes across. On the the other, we recognize that the entire idea of a “type” of Canadian is absurd, and that to be Canadian simply means to be Canadian. These bizarre contradictions lace our comedies with the sort of lightness that takes nothing too seriously, while simultaneously encouraging audiences to consider serious questions.
To help you engage with the rich and varied world of Canadian comedies, here are five of our favourites:
This musical gem by beloved director Deepa Mehta plays to the Bollywood-style comedy about star-crossed lovers. A deeply self-reflexive approach to filmmaking brings the laughs by turning a distinctly Toronto story into a Bollywood smash. Touching on both the specific experiences of families immigrating to Canada and that inimitable Indo-Asian style of filmmaking, Mehta does a terrific job of telling the story of two young Canadians in a uniquely Canadian way – that is to say, by incorporating elements from other parts of the world into it.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006)
Erik Canuel’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop is must-see for anyone wanting to understand the dynamics between Anglo and French Canadians in Canada. Winner of the 2007 Canadian Comedy Award, this hilarious action comedy follows two detectives as they try to solve the murder of a well-known hockey executive, whose body was found on the border between Ontario and Quebec. Unabashedly using political tensions and cultural differences to yield laughs, Bon Cop, Bad Cop pokes fun at our bilingual existence while serving up laughs by way of its stars, Colm Feore and Patrick Huard.
The F Word (2013)
In The F Word, Daniel Radcliffe decides that the last thing on his mind should be love. Just as he shelves it, love comes calling in the form of Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a girl he tries his best to befriend. This romantic comedy features Toronto in a way we rarely see it in the movies: as Toronto. A fun walk through some of the city’s most recognizable locations, The F Word captures Toronto as experienced by the young and in love.
Whether you loved camp, hated it, or followed your better judgement and skipped it altogether, Meatballs is your window into campfire life. Replete with pranks, unforgettable characters, and moments to treasure, Meatballs is what summer should be about – fun! So grab your sunscreen, towel, and shades and enjoy a Canadian comedy classic.
Corner Gas: The Movie (2014)
Nothing captures small town Saskatchewan in quite the hilarious light that Corner Gas does. Something about lovable, quirky characters speaks right to the Canadian soul. It’s like taking a trip somewhere and feeling like you never left. In a good way. In the best way. The movie takes you right back into the lives of your favourite characters, and reminds you why the show lasted so long.
Those’ll keep your laughing ‘til your head pops off… But maybe you’ve got some films that tickle your funny bone? Why don’t you share them with us on Twitter @CanFilmDay!