André Ducharme, a key member of Rock et Belles Oreilles (RBO), was part of a group that left a mark on the Quebec television scene that is reminiscent of the dominance displayed by the Montreal Canadiens teams of the 1980’s. We sat down with the talented comedian - who remains an integral part of the Quebec media landscape today - to learn more about his passion for hockey and the Canadiens.
How long have you been a Habs fan?
I’m nearly 55-years-old, so I can clearly remember the dominant Canadiens teams of the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s. However, since those dynasty teams of the late 1970’s – the ones with the likes of Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt – were so dominant that I basically became less interested in hockey.
It was obvious that the Canadiens were going to win; the real question was what the final score would be? I was just a teen at the time, so I had other interests outside hockey at the time to keep me busy.
But looking back, I’m shocked at how I let myself miss all those great years. I would watch the playoffs but that was about it. Now that I follow the team more regularly, it infuriates me just thinking about missing all those games!
What is your fondest Canadiens memory?
AD: The 1986 Stanley Cup. That’s probably the memory that I hold closest to my heart. In 1986, we were on tour with RBO and spent a lot of time watching games in our hotel rooms.
I remember when the last game of the Stanley Cup finals rolled around, we were performing in Shawinigan. When we weren’t on stage, we were huddled around a black-and-white TV watching the game. At one point, Yves Pelletier missed his queue and didn’t come out on stage because he was too obsessed with hockey.
When the Canadiens won the cup, I headed right back to Montreal with one of my friends to see what was going on in the city. It was in full out riot; the famous riot of ‘86. We were just going out to have fun, but then the next thing we knew there were police everywhere, it was crazy. I lived it, I was there. We didn’t participate in any wrongdoing, we were just observing but we saw people smashing windows and stealing equipment with police everywhere and there were even cars turned upside down that were on fire. It was nuts.
Are you still a big hockey fan today?
AD: Yes, I love watching games whenever I can. I'll make sure to head out to see some games when I’m traveling abroad. I saw the Kings play when we were in Los Angeles, I saw the Panthers when we were in Florida, and I saw the Lightning in Tampa Bay. I like to see how hockey is played in different cities, because it really is very different everywhere you go. In Florida, it is quite surreal to see guys playing hockey in 30 degree weather with Palm trees in the background and everyone walking around in shorts.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
AD: In 1986, it was Mats Näslund. I identified with the smaller players. When anyone complains about having too many small players, it enrages me. Today I would have to say Brendan Gallagher. If I was a hockey player, I’d play exactly like Gallagher does.
Where is the most unusual place you’ve had to tune into a game from?
AD: When we’re on tour, it becomes a whole event. The most unusual place is in our dressing room during shows. You’re almost hoping to finish your scene so you can go see the rest of the game on TV. When we were on tour during the 1986 finals, a lot of the games required overtime to settle the score so they ended very late. Often, we’d finish the show and the game was still ongoing. We were really glued to those playoff games. During our show’s intermission, we’d tune into the game. We might be mid scene but hockey was always most important. Wherever we’d hit the road to play a show, the TV and the hockey game were a necessity.
Is there a certain atmosphere in the theatre when there is an important Canadiens game on the same night?
AD: Oh for sure. And what often happens is you will be in the middle of an important sketch and then all of the sudden you might catch the score of the game. If there is a goal, you have to announce it to the crowd, Even if you are in character, then you’re character must be the one to deliver the good news to the audience.
Have you met some of the players over the course of your career?
AD: Guy Lafleur is probably the one player that impressed me the most, he guest starred on Tout le monde en parle a couple times. I also met Jean Béliveau. I lived in two houses away from Mr. Béliveau in Longueuil for two years. I never really tried to speak to him though, because I was too star-struck. I would often see him outside in the neighborhood when pushing my little one in the stroller. So, I’ve said hello to him while he does his yard work, but he did me a favor by not trying to extend the conversation further. I chatted a bit longer with Guy Lafleur.
It’s pretty funny because there are some hockey players – especially the older players – that recognize us because they are fans of R.B.O. There is a mutual respect but nobody really talks about it because you are too nervous. It’s quite comical actually.
I was told – and I hope it is true – that there are players in the league outside of Montreal who were asking for copies on VHS tapes because they didn’t have access to our show.
Which player would be the best candidate for Un souper presque parfait?
AD: I can’t speak to their culinary talents, but in the spirit of François Pérusse’s show La Tite-chambre, I’d love to see Vincent Damphousse on the barbeque. Now that would be fun to see!
Interview conducted by Vincent Régis. Translated by Jared Ostroff
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