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Hab at heart: Francois Perusse

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

After leaving the broadcast radio industry in stiches for years with his widely popular sketch show Les 2 minutes du peuple, Francois Perusse recently lent his comedic talents to the small screen with RDS’ La Tite Chambre. We sat down with the witty comedian and talented musician to talk about his passion for hockey and the CH.

How long have you been a Habs fan?

FP: I'm 55 years-old, so when I started to follow hockey, superstars like Jean Beliveau were still in their prime. I got to see legends like Henri Richard, Jacques Lemaire and all the rest. I've seen them all. I was a big fan growing up but I wasn’t necessarily the most knowledgeable fan. I was just a little kid who just wanted his team to win. I was so spoiled being able to watch the teams of the late 60’s and 70’s.

When the WHA came about with the Nordiques, I started to feel a sense of patriotism and I eventually gravitated more towards Quebec because I am first and foremost a Quebecois. But they weren’t playing against the Canadiens at the time. So when they did switch over to the NHL along with three other teams, I had to choose between the two and ending up sticking with the Nordiques. I was essentially a Nordiques fan when they were still around, but after that I returned to being a Habs fan.

The Quebec-Montreal rivalry had me pretty nervous during some matches, but I felt no hatred since I also liked the Habs. They were my team growing up.

Which player impressed you the most?

FP: Jean Beliveau; because of his immense talent and personality. He expressed himself beautifully whenever he got up in front of a microphone and we were all very mesmerized by that. He was quite the gentleman. There are players in the league today who embody similar qualities but not like him. He was special.

I was always impressed by Guy Lafleur too. His performance during the Canada-Russia series fascinated me as a kid. He also played for a team in Quebec and I was very proud of that. Can’t forget about Yvan Cournoyer, with his speed and how he easily dazzled around the ice. Then again, I also can’t leave out Mario Tremblay who I always liked because he was tough and would step up to defend his teammates, especially against the Nordiques.

Today, I would say my favorite player is P. K. Subban, for his passion and personality in general. I had the pleasure of meeting him on the set of Tout le monde en parle.

What inspired you to create La Tite-Chambre?

FP: It all came down to timing and chance! One day I was invited to guest star on Antichambre on RDS. I was making jokes about Antichambre during Les 2 minutes du peuple and they loved it so much they asked me to “Come laugh at us, but live on the air!” That was back in March 2014.

Before the show, the content producer asked me what we could do on the show as a funny bit. I asked him to send me an excerpt from the program so I could take a look and try to put my own spin on it.

He sent me an sample that included a feature with Vincent Damphousse, Patrick Roy and Guy Carbonneau. I had a little fun with it and I came up with a little skit. I sent them my idea and they decided to put it on the air and everything just took off from there.

It was a big moment in my career. RDS later contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing it on a more regular basis. I had no choice but to accept and I started the next season.

Who is your favorite personality to work with on La Tite-Chambre?

FP: I have a lot of fun working with P.K. because, well, it’s P.K.! I also love working with Max Pacioretty too, even if he is not the most talkative player. He is fairly easy going so you can feed him any line and it will work seamlessly. I also like Pierre Houde, Francois Gagnon and Chantal Machabee who are all very expressive, which opens me up to talk about anything. I also had a ton of fun portraying Vincent Damphousse. And of course, Bob Hartley. I made three with him which were always fun to do. He finds it hilarious.

Which Stanley Cup victory is your favorite?

FP: Oh the last Stanley Cup for sure. I was in my apartment watching the last game of the finals so I wasn’t very far from Saint Catherine street, so we decided to go out and celebrate.

As soon as we approached Saint Catherine, we saw people rioting outside and windows being smashed on the street. But there were also tons of police officers everywhere; the city was prepared in case something like this happened. Still all of that stuff gets mixed in with the joy of winning the cup, which affected me greatly because I witnessed it live.

Where is the most unusual place you've watched a hockey game?

FP: There was this little bar on the edge of the Grand Canyon when I was on vacation one year. I randomly found this small bar with a neon clock on the wall. I kicked back, drank a beer and watched the Canadiens and Bruins square off in the playoffs. Here I am in the middle of Arizona and I’m watching Habs vs. Bruins on a small TV. It was pretty special.

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