Shortly after the birth of under listening, the popular podcast that Mike Ward will be bringing to the Bell Center’s main stage on Friday, his friend Guillaume Wagner confided that he too had been thinking about creating his own podcast. “Guillaume told me: I’ll let it happen, we can’t be two comedians with podcasts! »
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Guillaume Wagner’s reticence seems particularly absurd in 2022, when it seems impossible for a comedian to exist without hosting a podcast of his own. This is undoubtedly the main success of under listeningspearheading the advent of a true Quebec podcast.
“Whenever someone was good as a guest under listeningI said to him, ‘Get yourself a podcast,'” says Mike Ward, met at Le Bordel, where since August 2015 he has taped around 400 episodes of his show, which brings two comedians together over multiple drinks, a long time conversation oscillating between the essential and the nonsense.
I thought podcasts could do as much as it did in the United States, but I knew there had to be as many here as there for it to thrive.
Jerr Allain, Jay Du Temple, Sam Breton, Guillaume Pineault, Michelle Desrochers, Les Denis Drolet, and even Guillaume Wagner have all followed suit with podcasts in different tones since then. “You might have benefited from it under listeningbut the landlord thinks so under listening also really benefited from the wave created by everyone else. »
The importance of connoisseurs
It was in 2011 to watch the rise WTFthe influential podcast by the American Marc Maron, which Mike Ward is reviving with an old dream: making the sometimes very serious statements that usually die between the four walls of a person accessible to a broader public Comedy Club. under listening will therefore know his first embryonic life in a version recorded by Skype.
“Quebecians, we’re the people who love humor the most, but I found the public loved humor so much that they let it get away with it. A lot of times I’ve seen comedians I didn’t like and they had big laughs,” he explains.
Back then, we still heard comedians say in interviews: “I’m not funny in life.” But why do you do it professionally? It’s like saying: I’m a chef, but in life I don’t know how to make a sandwich.
In addition to “showing who the really funny guys are,” Mike Ward wanted to prove once and for all that his humor isn’t just a string of insults and obscenities. Although there are many who wish him the worst, this ambition will have an undeniable success: under listening harvests approximately 400,000 unique listens per week and has the known as approved comedy nerd – connoisseurs of humor – to multiply.
“My audience used to be a lot of people saying, ‘Asti, he makes me laugh because he’s crowning.’ It didn’t bother me but it felt like I wasn’t just swearing at what I was doing. There were still gags, a mirror image. I figured they’d only find out by hearing me talk to other comedians about my process »
The freedom you need
As a teenager, Mike Ward treasured his copied tape of an episode of Howard Stern’s show, recorded “by a friend, or a friend of my brother’s.” “It was kind of trash radio, just my style,” he recalls. From the radio, where no one knew the meaning of the word forbidden.
In stark contrast to Quebec Commercial Radio, on whose airwaves the troublemaker raged as a backup columnist from his early days. “After two days I was told, ‘You’re really good,’ and after five days I was told, ‘Don’t forget Mike, it’s Martine, 34, a Beauharnois resident, listening to the show. ‘ »
What was the problem ?
I was too harsh and criticized the radio patterns. The animator presented a song by saying, “I really like this one,” and I replied, “Oh yeah, seriously, do you like this song?”
under listening responds to no constraints and can absorb the vulgar as well as the moving, the relevant as well as the crazy, the 80-year-old Yvon Deschamps as the mid-20-year-old Mégan Brouillard. All in all, a passage in the most-watched French-language comedy podcast on YouTube for young Quebec comedians is a true visit to the Tonight show by Johnny Carson was for American comedians in the 1970s and 1980s.
“It’s always scared me, old comedians who aren’t nice to young people,” says Mike Ward, 48, particularly proud of his role as a mentor to young people.
But beyond this altruistic aspect, under listening will also have been of great help to Mike Ward himself, allowing him to show his sensitivity and keeping him on the positive side at the height of his depression caused by his legal troubles. ” That is under listening it kept me alive,” he admits, though memory of some shots is now blurred by the barrage of vodka Diet Cokes he hurled.
An unlikely legacy
Then he introduced himself under listening at ComediHa! Fest-Québec, under a tent where hundreds of spectators were turned away at the door, that the highly eccentric idea of recording at the Bell Center was born. “At first we thought it would be even funnier if we only sold 43 tickets,” jokes Ward. Twenty thousand seven hundred seats have luckily or unfortunately found takers at the moment (out of a probability of about 22,000), the world record for the largest number of pairs of ears gathered to record a podcast.
Always 100% independent, under listening is now Mike Ward’s main source of income, thanks to advertising, ticket sales and subscriptions on Patreon. Several producers have tried to acquire the rights since 2015.
The best offer he’s received? “7.5 million,” he replies. The journalist jumps up. “ call her dad [balado américaine sur la sexualité] had just signed to Spotify for 60 million. I said to those who approached me, “If you come to me with an offer under 10 million, I’ll take that as an insult.” They offered me 7.5 but I didn’t take that as an insult. »
After contemplating the comfortable life such a fortune would allow him to invent, Mike Ward recalled what he gave birth to under listening to taste a freedom he’d never encountered in traditional media. Trading them for cash would be a betrayal of the essence of the podcast, which he considers his artistic testament.
“Jean Thomas [Jobin] once said to me: “I think this will be the most important project of your life.” I answered him: “Let’s see! I’m on YouTube drinking in front of the whole world.” But I think he’s right. If we talk about me in 20 years, we’ll still be talking about my process, but maybe under listening will happen soon. »
Only the judgment of time will tell.
Bugged by Mike WardJuly 22 at 8 p.m., at the Bell Center