A Tribute To Bobby Bittman

Growing up in this city, I remeber tuning into CityTv (everywhere!) and catching episodes of SCTV.  Everyone my age or a tad older remembers Bob and Doug, or Count Floyd, among my favoirtes were the Schmengie Brothers(cabbage rolls and coffee) and Bobby Bittman (howwwww are yaaaa).  Bittman, played by Eugene Levy was a comedian who often appeared on the Sammy Maudlin show( a take off on the tonight show).  Bittman would come on do a stand up bit and then when interviewed, he would inevitably get very serious.  In doing so, Bittman would say the same thing every time, “As a comedian in all seriousness” and then some nonesense would follow causing me and others to laugh hysterically.

Why the reference?  Well, it reminds me a little bit about Bob McCowan.  McCowan, for the most part owns the sports radio market in this city.  Chuck Swirsky when is had his own show on the Fan used to refer to McCowan as the franchise. McCowan, rumor has it, does very little in the way of show preparation and realizes the fact that part of his appeal is his controversial comments.  I am sure you have seen his ad on sportsnet promoting his show talking about what idiots his fans are.  There are those who firmily believe that McCowan doesn’t believe a lot of what escapes his lips, but rather he says them because he is supposed to, his audience expects him too.  In other words, the theory goes, he is no different then an actor.  He gets paid to almost follow a script.

There is nothing wrong with this.  It works.  To be hones I listen to his show because he gets great guests.  I know what he is going to say, and for the most part his co-hosts too.  Sometimes, however I kind of get the thought that he too needs to use Bittman’s preamble before speaking.  This past week, McCowan crossed the line.  One has to wonder if he did so purposefully or ignorantly (he didn’t realize what he said could be contsrued as offensive to the point of really crossing the line).  This past Wednesday, McCowan theorized that President Elect (and Senator) Obama won the election because he “was black”.  McCowan went evenfurther by using a report out of Harlem as an example of his theory.  Apparently a reporter in Harlem asked african american’s if they would support a specific political platform (mirroring that of John McCain’s) if it were Obama’s platform.  The respondant’s said that they would, ergo people were voting for Obama because of the color of his skin and not the substance behind it.

Just under 2 years ago, Don Imus got fired for referring to the Rutgers University woman’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos”. Know, I am not going to compare what McCown said to Imus.  However, it is pretty telling the difference in the reaction on this side of the border then down south.  You can bet that if McCowan said what he did in some US markets, the topic would be a lot more then Bill Houson made of it in the bloge and mail here.  You can also rest assured that someone like a Jesse Jackson would come sniffing around too.  Let me make this clear, I am not suggesting McCowan is a racist (as someone else has before me).  Nor am I saying he should be fired for what he said (sorry Howie).  I do however wonder if he couldn’t have done a much better job of clarifying his point as to not make it as offensive as it sounded live.

For some great insight into this story, try and grab some clips of the Brady and Watters’ show from this past Friday.  The guys were really whooping it up, make all kinds of sports realted jokes about things happening only because the were black, like say a hockey puck.  Good entertainment for sure!

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