American comedians Terry Ree, left, and Bruce Williams, right, known as "The Indian and the White Guy," emcee Friday’s night tribute concert for the Humboldt Broncos in Saskatoon. (CBC)
It was the wrong joke at the wrong time.
That’s how some attendees feel about a joke told Friday night by emcees Bruce Williams and Terry Ree at a tribute concert for the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.
Williams, one half of the long-standing and provocative comedy duo that bills itself as "The Indian and the White Guy," launched into a parody of American country crooner Luke Bryan’s tune "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)."
"Indian boy, shake it for me, boy, shake it for me, boy, shake it for meeeeee," sang Williams. "Shake it from the river, shake it from the trees, shake it for the Indian with STDs."
The last line provoked a loud reaction from the audience.
"What?" Ree then responded in apparent mock outrage. ‘Last night wasn’t the place’
Miriam Dreaver was in the audience Friday alongside her friend Bernadette Anaskon.
Both had gone to the concert to show their support for the families of the people killed and injured in this month’s fatal Broncos team bus crash near Tisdale, Sask. Miriam Dreaver, left, and Bernadette Anaskon, right, said they left the concert immediately after the joke. "I feel so out of place here," Dreaver remembers feeling. (Bernadette Anaskon) The joke surprised and stung them.
"We both looked at each other and we were like, ‘Whoa, no.’ And everybody just roared with laughter," said Dreaver, a half-Cree, half-Irish resident of Saskatoon.
"Last night wasn’t the place," echoed Anaskon, who is also Cree. ‘Sorry if people were offended’
Williams said he was sorry if anyone was offended by the joke, which he says the duo has performed for about five years without a single complaint.
"I’m singing the song to and about my native partner of 50 years. It’s referencing him and him only. Sorry if people were offended," he said in a message to CBC News.
"Our intent is to call attention to ongoing, rampant racism in all corners of America and North America by injecting cutting edge humour along with music and harmony," he added.
He and Ree warn all their audiences that their act is not politically correct, Williams said. Ree and Williams performed to an audience of thousands at SaskTel Centre. (CBC) "If we shook up some people and got them talking about issues affecting local minorities, then that is the definition of raising awareness. We certainly do not want one joke or comment to colour this event and all of the healing and incredible giving spirit it evoked."
Anaskon admits she didn’t know about the act and their routines before seeing them Friday, but she says it take a lot to shock her."I’m all about native humour but there’s a time and place for it all. Last night wasn’t the place," she said. No complaints received Country Thunder Music Festivals, which organized the concert, said it had not received complaints about the joke."Williams and Ree are veteran comedians who are approaching their 50th year in show business," said Gerry Krochak, director of marketing and media relations for the organization, in an email to CBC News. Country Thunder Music Festivals, which organized Friday’s concernt, said Saturday morning it received no complaints Williams and Ree’s comedy bit. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC News)"I guess it’s true that not everyone is going to appreciate every joke and I’m sorry if anyone has been offended in any way during what was a spectacular evening."Krochak added that Williams and Ree, who have emceed many Country Thunder events and wore Humboldt Broncos hockey jerseys Friday […]
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