Published on February 26th, 2014 | by Em Dash2
Plastik Patrik by Shaun Murphy
The Voice of Roller Derby en Français: Plastik Patrik
Plastik Patrik, one of the iconic presences in modern roller derby, is certainly one of the most fascinating people on or off the track these days, and we weren’t the only ones who noticed. Patrik was chosen as the Derby News Network Reader Poll’s favorite on-stream announcer by a wide margin. We were lucky enough to score an interview with the voice of Montreal.
DL: Do you have any roles in derby other than announcing? If so, what is your favorite derby role?
PP: I handle the PR for Montreal Roller Derby. Whenever a journalist / photographer wants to write or shoot our skaters, i’m the go-between. I’m also the head-announcer. I book the djs and the other announcers. It’s all kind of intertwined, really, but at the end of the day, nothing beats announcing a nail-bitter. Except maybe when i get to introduce the New Skids, our A travel team, to a new city. Love that.
DL: You do a lot outside of derby, too! Can you talk about some of your other pursuits? Do you feel like they help or hinder the work you do in derby?
PP: Yes, that’s true. Plastik Patrik is the name i’ve been operating under for my entire career as a dj, singer (band is called “Patrik et les Brutes”), mc, club host / promoter, and whatever else i end up doing. The only conflict really is scheduling all these terrific engagements. Most events, derby or not, take place on week-ends. But for the most part, it always ends up working out. Sometimes when it rains it pours, but i don’t care much for routine.
DL: How long have you been announcing roller derby? How did you discover it?
PP: My friend Beater Pan-Tease, ex MTLRD skater, was part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show event we have here in Montreal every Halloween, where i host a costume contest before every show. She joined the league right when it started and asked me and another cast mate (hi Phil!) if we wanted to be the announcers for the first bout (in 2007). Neither one of us had a clue how the game was played so we went to a practice and kind of wang it. Our events have been very well attended right from the get-go, we just all got better at it. I’ve discovered that for me, derby is a perfect fit. I’m an athlete (ex-swimmer, current runner) so i love sports, and i embrace the diversity and the fabulousness.
Dl: Derby commentating is still very young. Who do you model your commentary on, or do you try to forge your own path?
PP: Part of what i like about it is that there is no real need for basing ourselves on a precise model of commentating. We have just recently started to attribute roles, play-by-play and color, and that has made things smoother and clearer for the listener. I love the fact that we are allowing ourselves the luxury of trial and error, and just like the rest of derby, announcing is coming into its own in due time. Having said that, I love sports commentators that are very knowledgeable but also witty, funny, and full of personality. John McEnroe (tennis) is a great example for me.
DL: What was the highlight of 2013 for you? And the lowest point?
PP: The high point is in two parts but both parts involve the same team: Bay Area. The best bout i announced this year was definitely BAD vs Gotham at Championship, and i got to travel with the New Skids to San Francisco when they played them in May. All kinds of goodness there. Low points are thankfully few and far between in derby, but if i really had to pick one, it would be the New Skids missing the qualification for Champs. I see the work and the heart the team puts in but it unfortunately just didn’t happen.
DL: What has been the highlight of your derby career so far?
PP: The Montreal league has been involved with many “firsts”, and i’ve been lucky to be along for the ride. “Beast of the East”, our home team tournament is going on year #7, we hosted the first WFTDA sanctioned bout outside the US, Montreal vs Providence in 2009, Montreal was the first non-US team to qualify for playoffs in 2010, and we travelled to the first sanctioned tournament in Europe in 2011, “Anarchy in the UK” in London. For me personally, the bilingual calls and my first Championship stream calls this year have been pretty special.
DL: What is the biggest challenge you have overcome so far in connection with derby?
PP: The biggest challenge i’ve come across is by far the language barrier. My first language is French. I learnt English in school, and i joined a swim team where most people spoke English, and later on i went to college in English. But knowing the vocabulary and the grammar does not necessarily mean mastering the quickness that is needed for stream commentating. That was my biggest challenge related to derby. At home, i call bouts in French and i pepper with English. On the WFTDA stream, most of the work is all in English and it did not come naturally to me, i feel like i’m still in a learning curve. Of course, knowing the rules of the game really well and the rosters you are calling helps a lot, but i’m committed and loving every minute of it!
DL: I loved that you announced the Montreal playoff games in French as well as English. You made it seem quite seamless. How did you decide to do that? Was there any pushback about it? Did you practice in advance? What was the feedback like from bilingual people listening to you?
PP: Ok, the French work IS my proudest derby accomplishment. Interestingly enough, there wasn’t so much thought put into it at first, DoubleH sprung that up on me 20 minutes before the first Montreal bout at the 2012 Eastern playoffs. It was a “let’s try this” kind of thing. Not only was it a challenge to find the right balance of French and English, but a mega-challenge for my partner (it was Baam) who had no clue what i was saying! There was an instant reaction on the Twitter feed, but mostly from US listeners! They were loving it! And me, i loooove derby people for being open to change and possibilities. The reactions from Francophones became more apparent later on, when some French derby folks made a “We love Plastik Patrik cuz he announces in French” page on Facebook. Being someone who constantly second-guesses himself, i had been wondering if anyone really appreciated the French because they could now understand the call as opposed to appreciating the stylistic coolness, so that was a big derby hug from across the ocean.
DL: Who do you think belongs on the list of Most Fascinating Derby People of 2013?
PP: Well, i’m going to say two great skaters: Iron Wench (Montreal) and Bloody Mary (Texas). [Editor’s note: Patrik nailed it!]
I saw Iron Wench in her first bout, she skated like the Tazmanian Devil, it was so cool. Later she kept the speed but developed the control and footwork, and she was a star. Sadly, she retired at the end of the season, she will be dearly missed. Thanks for the memories, Wench!
Bloody Mary had her best season that i can remember. She has been playing forever (is she an original TXRG?) but proved you can bounce back if you really want to. Her one-on-one battle with Queen Loseyateefa (Atlanta) is my favorite moment of Champs this year. The MVP award was largely deserved.
DL: Would you like to add anything else?
PP: Cher Montreal Roller Derby, merci de me faire confiance année après année, j’en suis très honoré. Merci aussi de m’inclure dans une communauté si extraordinaire que celle du derby, les moments que je vis à Montréal et à l’extérieur sont très précieux et c’est grâce à vous. Je vous aime beaucoup.
Add some magic love to DoubleH, Baam and Kool Aid for trusting me, supporting me, and pushing me to be the best i can be. I feel really privileged to be part of such a diverse, positive and growing community, thanks derby friends…. See ya in 2014, Happy New Year!
See Patrik et les Brutes here:
Latest posts by Em Dash (see all)
- Learning to Pivot in Roller Derby - April 22, 2016
- Black Friday Roller Derby Sales Roundup, 2015 Edition - November 25, 2015
- Roller Derby Secret Gift Exchange - November 16, 2015