Canadian lemmings!

After all the recent talk on this site about the distinctive politeness of Canadians, I thought I’d post this great cartoon from a recent New Yorker. (You can buy a high-priced print at Condé Nast):

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 8.13.18 PMAddendum:  Reader Diana MacPherson sent me a copy of what Canadians see when they try to view videos on the Colbert report:

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 9.44.12 PM

I wonder if each country has a specific message. Russians, for instance, may see this one: “Sorry, in Soviet Russia the Colbert report views you.”


  1. Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Do I really want to be the first to comment on this one?


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      I guess determinism gave you no other choice….here you are!

      • Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the fact that Ben was going to comment first was already determined at the Big Bang.

        • Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          I dunno…let’s not forget about quantum indeterminacy….

          I might not have had any contra-causal choice in the matter (though I certainly did make a decision). But that doesn’t mean that the Fates foretold it.


          • JBlilie
            Posted August 16, 2013 at 4:49 am | Permalink


  2. Karen
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    As a Canadian living in the US for the past 13 years, I can safely say that my distinctive politeness has been sucked right out of me.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Ready for your citizenship test, eh?

      • Karen
        Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        That’s just crazy talk 😉

        • JBlilie
          Posted August 16, 2013 at 4:50 am | Permalink

          Ha! 🙂

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I enjoy the Canadians are polite stereotype because there could be worse ones, but from my experience I think we can be rude (but maybe as I Canadian I just can’t tell??) and Americans are much more polite when you visit. Apparently though, Americans love Canadians, which is what we’ve always really ever wanted. 🙂

    • Randy
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I don’t see Canadians as more polite. We just follow a different script.

      In Canada, when lanes reduce from 2 to 1, we’d rather cause a traffic jam by merging early, rather than appear to cut in front of someone else. Compare with Texas where cars will merge only when forced to by the lack of pavement, regardless of who is occupying the remaining pavement.

      In Texas, they’re very big on greeting you with a great big smile, at every single place you go to. Compare with Canada, where you’re as likely to be greeted with an exasperated sigh or a scowl, if it all.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        OK, sorry about that. I know to look out for embedding, but in this case the link looked like it was too specific. So follow plan B.

  4. pacopicopiedra
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Hockey players don’t seem so polite…when they’re playing.

    • Posted August 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      That’s just tough love…

      • Nwalsh
        Posted August 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        I’ve always thought Democrats like us, but republicans think were just a bunch of socialists or godless Liberals.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          Except for David Frum 🙂

          • Kevin Alexander
            Posted August 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

            The stork just messed up and dropped David Frum in the wrong country.

            • Julian C
              Posted August 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

              David Frum was born in Toronto

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:25 am | Permalink

                I think the joke is he was supposed to be born in the US 🙂

        • JBlilie
          Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:04 am | Permalink

          That analysis of US political leanings is probably about right. Remember a few years ago when it was GOP fun to bash the French? Canadians are a closer target.

          They (the GOP) hate your Medicare I’m sure. (Horrors! Everyone gets medical care? What’s the world coming to?)

        • Walt Jones
          Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

          Yes, but remember how many of them said they wpuld move to Canada because of Obamacare.

          • JBlilie
            Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

            Intelligence certainly not required for GOP membership!

    • microraptor
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      That’s because they want to score goals, but the coach won’t let them.

  5. Golkarian
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Comedy Network only has the relatively recent episodes, very frustrating when you read an older post (or one referencing an old Daily Show/Colbert Report)

  6. Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah eh? After you eh!

  7. JohnnieCanuck
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Yes, there are customised apologies that people in other countries get. Someone quoted the one they see in Denmark, I recall. Unfortunately I’m not finding it now and can’t remember the clever bit either.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Wow. Been a while since anybody showed that kind of love for Yakov Smirnoff. Collapse of the Iron Curtain turned out to be a bummer move for him and Gorby, career-wise.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 12:55 am | Permalink

      The Berlin Wall came crashing down and “disappeared” poor Yakov’s act, like Uncle Joe shipping an old Bolshevik off to the Siberian deep-freeze circa ’36.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:19 am | Permalink

        I see a Yakov Smirnov joke in there somewhere.

  9. Matt Flor
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Soviet Russia?

  10. Peter Ozzie Jones
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    In Australia the apology message varies, today it is:

    “It is one of the detriments of living under a monarchy. But in case you can’t give up your Vegemite and move to America watch . . .”

    Another mentioned something to do with our marsupials compensating for not being able to view the video.

    Much better than a “404”.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 1:49 am | Permalink

      In the UK I got a variant on the monarchy message but replacing ‘vegemite’ with ‘silly accents’.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:28 am | Permalink

        Ha ha I knew it would be funny no matter which country!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:28 am | Permalink

      Wow, variety! Maybe they couldn’t decide which funny message to display.

  11. Grania Spingies
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    In Ireland I managed to view the Pinker clip – that’s unusual though, iirc Colbert is usually blocked here too.

  12. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    I had no problem on CN or Youtube. My guess would be that Sweden isn’t enough of a big market to bother with. (Though who doesn’t enjoy Colbert?)

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      I read somewhere that it is blocked where other networks carry the show so probably Sweden has no other competing network.

  13. Larry Gay
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    Was it Kathleen Madigan who said Canada is like America’s attic. Every now and then you go up there and discover all the stuff up there that you had forgotten about (aboot?).

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      I thought the comparison had Canada as the nice, quiet older couple living in the apartment upstairs from the loudest, rowdiest fraternity house on campus.

      Theirs is a lovely, commodious, reasonably-priced apartment, with wonderful views of the surrounding parks, but the heating works for crap.

  14. Marella
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    This reminds me of Chip’n’Dale, who were always so considerate of each other.
    “After you, I insist.”
    “No, no after you!”

    I didn’t realise they were meant to be Canadian chipmunks!

    Australians are generally supposed to be friendly rather than polite.

  15. JBlilie
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    In my travels outside the US, I’ve several times heard this kind of exchange:

    “Hello, where are you from?”

    “I’m Canadian.”

    “Really? What is a Canadian?”

    [pause] “Wel, we’re sort of nice Americans …”

    And I can’t argue with it!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:42 am | Permalink

      I’ve had the weirdest experiences (for a Canadian) where they say they really like Canada. As a typical Canadian, I never understand because it’s part of our national identity not to be proud of our country and to slam its accomplishments.

      At work we have blurbs about other cultures, since we’re a multi national company. For Canadians, it says how Canadians don’t like to be confused with Americans….so I think everyone takes it really seriously & I think Canadians that travel don’t really care as much as everyone has been told. So, it was funny when I overheard this exchange in Australia:

      Australian: Are you from America?
      Canadian: No, I’m Canadian
      Australian: Oh, I am very sorry, so sorry, I didn’t know.


      Another nice one I used in New Zealand – a guy filing the gas asked, “Where are you from?”
      Answer: Canada.
      Gas Attendant: Are you sure you aren’t from America?
      Reply: You aren’t Australian are you?
      Gas Attendant: between laughter, That’s a good one! I was just being cheeky with you!

      • JBlilie
        Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:03 am | Permalink

        Nice reply to the attendant!

        I don’t know your experience down under; but, when I was in NZ, they all said, “oh, you’d better watch it in Australia — they’ll take a stick to ya!”

        So we were a bit concerned going to Australia (being completely naive at the time).

        Of course, in my experience, the Australians are, literally, the friendliest people on earth. I was invited into more homes to stay the night in my first month in Australia than I have been for the rest of the world, for my entire life, combined.

        … Standing in line to buy groceries:

        Aussie checkout woman: “Where ya from?”


        “Howrya goin’?”

        “Pretty well, the cycling is a bit hot and hilly.”

        “Need a place to stay? Stay at my place: Turn right out the door, go down three blocks, take a left, two more blocks, little white place on the corner, can’t miss it. Key’s under the flower pot on the porch. Make yourself at home: Beer in the fridge, food in the cupboard.”

        Unbelievable. Happened over and over.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

          Ha ha! I think of the Aussie-Kiwi thing a lot like Canada & the US. There is a big brain drain from NZ to Australia, they have a special buddy relationship between the two countries, etc. I just got my Kiwi passport because when I go there, I want to go through the fast customs line 🙂 I also once got detained because I was travelling on my Canadian passport and I was a big pedant and put on the form “I’m a citizen, traveling on a foreign passport” when entering NZ. Never again! They were terrified I was there to emigrate (which I’m allowed to do as I hold dual citizenship). Please – they should be HAPPY to have me! 🙂

          • JBlilie
            Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

            Dual CA/NZ citizenship — lucky you! Two of my favorite countries!

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        I once atteneded a baseball game in Canada. On hearing my midwestern USA accent, other attendees asked me if I was a “Newfie.”


        • Posted August 16, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          Well, Newfoundland does have some regional accents … though I don’t think they sound like any American accent I’ve ever heard.

          • RFW
            Posted August 16, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

            I once re-entered Canada from the states at the Blaine, Washington truck crossing. The Canajun customs/immigration guy must’ve been from Newfoundland: his accent was so thick I could not understand him at all.

            To this day I have no idea what he said before he finally waved me on.

            To my amusement I discovered that one of the local Walmarts has a section in the imported foods department devoted to delicacies from Newfoundland. The cookies and candies and such are only so-so, but the blueberry jam is the best I’ve ever tasted. They also have apple-partridge berry jam, which poses the question, how do they ever manage to harvest enough partridge berries to make jam out of them on a commercial scale? Partridge berries (fruit of Mitchella repens) are very small.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 16, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

              He also may have been an immigrant to Canada whose first language was not English. My mom (who is from New Zealand) has found when speaking to non Canadians that they assume her accent is a Canadian one. 😀

  16. Dave Hooke
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    I remember a Canadian stand-up introducing himself in this way: “I’m Canadian. We’re all branded with 668. The number of the neighbour of the beast.”

    • JBlilie
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      Hilarious! Great one! :|)

      • JBlilie
        Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:04 am | Permalink

        emoticon fail …

  17. Vaal
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting that Canadians have this reputation of being so polite and friendly.
    (I’m Canadian).

    Yet almost every time I go to the USA, Americans strike me as much more gregarious and friendly.

    Everyone in public places talks to one another like they are part of a community, with an ease. I’ve lost count of the amount of times strangers in America have just struck up conversations with me. Like, just sitting on a bench in a mall while my wife is shopping, someone just started a conversation with me. That NEVER happens where I live in Toronto. Everyone just keeps to himself here. Maybe it’s a Toronto thing, but I think we are much more cold and withdrawn than many Americans.


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      This is my experience as well and the experience of my fellow Canadians who travel to the US.

  18. Jim Thomerson
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    In Venezuela I was amused to observe a couple of Canadian birdwatchers come to the realization that they too were Gringos.

  19. Old Rasputin
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    An acquaintance of mine (American) who goes to various Canadian cities on business has complained on more than one occasion about how rude people are in Toronto.

    I had never heard anything like this before. Does anyone think there’s any truth in it, or might it be just a couple of unfortunate impressions that happened to stick in his mind?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Don’t ask Canadians this — it is also part of the national identity to hate Toronto so you won’t get a non biased answer. 🙂 I actually don’t find them too rude but I think all of Ontario is rude at least in the cities compared to the maritimes.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      It may simply be that your friend has happened to visit during hockey season when the local fans seem rude because they’re so preoccupied with the sport’s standings. He should try visiting during Canadian hockey’s off-season.

      That would be from noon till 4 pm on July 25th.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 20, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink


  20. DrYak
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    In South Africa we get a fairly generic: “You’re so close, yet so far away.” I don’t remember what I got in New Zealand or Indonesia (probably couldn’t even get to the website there) and in France I could watch it just fine…

  21. SeanK
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I’ve also seen other messages when trying to play videos of Colbert Report and The Daily Show form Canada that ready something along the lines of, “Have no fear, you can give up your free healthcare and move the the US to view the videos, or watch them at”

    I can’t remember the exact wording but it was something along like that.

  22. Gaius Brutus
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    The cartoon is amusing but please contrast it with Shel Silverstein’s “Ladies First”. There are a few De Imitatione Silversteini on Youtube. They may tickle you to search for the original version.

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