A behind-the-scenes anatomy
of Jacques Duchesneau's sticky-sweet political debut
Date: Thursday, May
21. Time: 6;30 p.m. Place: Windsor Station. Event:
the inaugural rally for New Montreal, the municipal party led
by former police chief, Jacques Duchesneau.
is getting his first real taste of politics. Over 1,000 people
are in attendance. Duchesneau is making the rounds, glad-handing
everyone he bumps into. News photographers follow his every step.
Everyone seems genuinely glad to meet him. If this is what politics
tastes like, Duchesneau must be thinking, it tastes pretty sweet.
He has no idea
how sweet it tastes.
Just as he is finishing
his rounds, he sees a man with a red clown nose. It's a sure-fire
giveaway that a covert action-comedy is in play, but Duchesneau
doesn't get the tip. Instead, he naïvely approaches the man
to shake his hand. Little does he know that his barely-masked
interlocutor is former Rhinoceros Party stalwart François
Gourd, and behind Gourd stand three accomplice jokers, each with
a cream pie in hand.
cop instincts can kick in, Costello (not his real name) moves
in for the smooshy kill. He reaches over Gourd's shoulder and
hits his target dead centre. Nyuk nyuk nyuk. As Duchesneau tries
to peer through his thick, creamy makeover, the cameras start
clicking rapid-fire, a second round of incriminating ammunition.
Woo woo woo. The nutty terrorists escape, leaving a trail of merry
carnage in their wake.
Funny. But what
does it mean? "It's puff-pastry empowerment," Abott
(not his real name) told the Mirror. "People feel
powerless when it comes to politics. But there is something they
can do. They can pie."
It's a movement
in the making: Gourd and his henchmen used Duchesneau to inaugurate
the Quebec chapter of the internationale des anarcho-pâtisseurs,
a movement bent on the globalization of the farce. The group will
hold its inaugural congress in Montreal on June 12, with special
guest Noël Godin, the man who creamed Bill Gates. All public
figures in Quebec and around the world are hereby put on notice.
"There will come a day," Gourd proclaims, "when
the last person on earth who has not been pied, he too will get
is the world's oldest profession, then the pie-in-the-face is
the world's oldest gag. You'd think that, over the years, it would
get easier to pull off. You'd be wrong.
Three days before
the coup, four clowns conspirators (all of whom shall remain nameless)
meet for a final strategy meeting in their jolly bunker, located
somewhere in North America. They begin their meeting by watching
video footage of the Bill Gates gloupinesque, and they do so as
much for inspiration as for tactical reasons.
The footage lasts
about 12 seconds. Gates smiles at onlookers as he turns a corner,
completely unaware that he is walking right into a trap set by
silly snipers. As he heads up the steps, he is gunned down in
a shower of milky white ammo. "Look at how fast it happens,"
they comment, awe in their voices. "You'd swear it came out
They replay the
tape frame by frame, and tactical secrets are revealed. A total
of three stooges struck the billionaire target. The first of the
three was deliciously accurate, landing his creamy cannonball
squarely upon the tip of Gate's nose. Every member of Gates' entourage
is struck by flying fluffy schrapnel.
The rules of comic
warfare dictate that the pie cannot be thrown from a distance;
it must be deposited upon its target, hand-to-face."That
doesn't mean it has to be gentle," Abott reminds the group.
"In the rush of adrenaline and the determination to finish
the job, the whip will fly."
They have already
scoped out the scene where the hit will take place. Discussion
then focuses on weaponry: what kind of pie shall be used? Does
ordinary whipped cream turn to liquid when left at room temperature?
How long will the snipers be standing at their perch, pie cocked
for action? Would a good, stiff cream be best? Should we insist
on paper plates rather than aluminium, to ensure no lasting scars?
It's a sad scene,
watching clowns take themselves this seriously. As funny business
goes, this is awfully heavy-handed. At one point, two people are
spotted peeking into the window of the bunker. Everyone gets worked
up into a big fuss, thinking someone's bees sent to spy on them
- until they realize the people outside were merely admiring the
bunker's in-house kitty perched on the still. They do allow visitors
to go to the bathroom unescorted; but, then again, the bathroom
has no door, making for easy surveillance.
There are final
details to wich even this reporter is not privy; they insist upon
completing their meeting in camera, and I am shown the
In terms of strategy,
the Duchesneau pastry putsch was a total success. But in terms
of its true objectives -to subvert media control, to make political
figures seem human again- its success was questionable. The hilarity
of any pie-in-the-face is directly proportionnal to the haughtiness
of the target. Duchesneau was momentarily enraged, but he spun
it to keep his image intact. And the media played right into his
hands, unable to ask a pertinent question.
"How does it
feel to take a pie in the face?"
"I like whipped
cream," Duchesneau responded.
"How does it
feel to become Montreal's Bill Gates?"
"It's a flattering
comparison. Bill Gates runs a good company. I want to run a good
"Did you think
it was funny?"
the first couple of minutes, no." Aha! What's this? A hint
of humanity? An admission of wounded self-esteem? Then, within
a split second, he's back on track: "But, like I said, I
like whipped cream"
The final lesson
of the slapstick: if your teflon coating is thick enough, even
whipped cream slides right off your face.