Sugar Sammy crosses Canada’s two solitudes

Sugar Sammy at the Ritz-Carlton, in Montreal on May 1, 2014. (SÉBASTIEN ST-JEAN/QMI Agency)

Sugar Sammy at the Ritz-Carlton, in Montreal on May 1, 2014. (SÉBASTIEN ST-JEAN/QMI Agency)

Brian Daly, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:17 PM ET

MONTREAL – Leave it to a Hindi and Punjabi-speaking child of Indian immigrants to break Canada’s linguistic divide.

Samir Khullar, a.k.a. Sugar Sammy, has achieved a rare feat – he has English people watching French television.

The irreverent Montreal comic’s English speaking fans have followed him to his new show on Quebec’s V channel.

Ces gars-la (Those guys) generates about 15% of in-show tweets in English.

His publicist says that’s unheard of for V or any other French channel.

Sammy, who was Canada’s top-grossing comedian last year, says he’s flattered by the attention he’s getting across racial and language barriers.

“This is one of the big sources of pride for us is that a lot of the anglos and ethnics are watching French TV for the first time,” said Sammy, who grew up in an English and Punjabi-speaking home while attending French schools.

“Now (anglos are) subconsciously learning French a little bit better than they were before,” he says of his sitcom’s impact.

“They’re participating in Quebecois culture. They’re watching all these other actors as well who are Quebecois and they’re enjoying the show on French TV.”

Ces gars-la is a buddy comedy that follows the social and sexual escapades of two bachelors in Montreal’s trendy Plateau Mont-Royal district.

Sugar Sammy aims for realism, which includes frequent cursing.

His character, named Sam, drops the F-bomb four times during the latest episode.

That wouldn’t pass muster on network television in Canada but V channel has a history of raunchy fare, including late-night Euro porn, so swearing didn’t even raise eyebrows at the Montreal-based channel.

“Because we’re on V and we’re not on (the CBC), we have a little more leeway,” said Sammy, 38. “They give us more freedom to go as far as we want.

“We wanted to write this show the way that guys talk for real when women aren’t around or even when women are around, if they don’t care!”

Sammy’s cursing on Ces gars-lŕ is surpassed only by his use of English.

Surprisingly, Sam delivers English lines no fewer than nine times during the latest episode.

He said he was going for realism and that French viewers haven’t complained.

“At home I either speak English or Punjabi with my parents, it’s never going to be French,” he said. “It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s just not natural.”

Have Quebec’s infamous language cops come knocking?

“No complaints from l’Office yet, but I feel like we need the publicity. I’ll email (l’Office) myself to say ‘guys, where have you been?’”

Standup comedy “better than sex”

Sugar Sammy might be a budding sitcom star, but don’t expect him to give up his first love.

Canada’s top-grossing stand-up comic says he’ll never stop making people laugh around the world with his irreverent stage act that skewers sexual politics, language and race.

“There’s no better feeling for me than being up there on stage. It’s better than sex,” Sammy told QMI Agency this week.

“People come to a comedy show to relieve that tension that they live day-to-day. And it feels great to be able to participate in helping someone achieve that.”

He has sold more than 235,000 tickets to his shows in Canada and India.

The latest issue of Billboard features Sammy as the top-grossing Canadian tour of the last year.

He’ll launch a cross-country tour in 2015 and until then, he’s busy touring Quebec venues where he somehow manages to get away with savaging separatists and other French Quebecers.

“People know who I am,” says the anglo Montrealer whose show was featured on HBO Canada.

“If you don’t know that I’m a federalist and I promote bilingualism and diversity on my show, then you’ve been living under a rock for, like, the last five years.”

You can catch Ces-gars-lŕ online at

http://vtele.ca/emissions/ces-gars-la/‎


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