Martin Matte, or how to provoke without (too) shocking

Martin Matte swears, he never sought to deliberately provoke controversy. But as a worthy heir of Yvon Deschamps, it is stronger than him: he must get as close as possible to the limit of good taste to have the feeling of doing useful work with humor. An exercise that requires a lot of skill, and which can certainly prove to be a dangerous game. Especially when you have to host a live show every week at prime time.

On the eve of the big premiere of his talk show on TVA, the star comedian takes full stock of the risk that awaits him. “Of course I’m going to go too far. Especially today, with social media, where everyone can comment. If just 5% of people are shocked, seriously, I don’t care. But when we really feel like we’re going too much, too far, we’ll apologize and roll up our sleeves. This is the risk to take for a talk show that I want crisp and daring,” says Martin Matte in an interview in Duty.

Starting Thursday, he will be at the helm of a brand new weekly talk show with the most prosaic title: Martin Matte live.

The concept is close to that of late-night shows in the United States, with an opening number stuck on the news, a guest, sketches and a house band, under the musical direction of singer Dumas. Martin Matte will also be able to count on regular collaborators, such as Maude Landry and Katherine Levac.

“It won’t be exactly like American talk shows,” he still wants to point out. They can host Barack Obama and Sting one night, then Brad Pitt and Bruce Springsteen the next. We have our own show business which works well, but we understand that it is not the same scale. That’s why we only have one guest per night. […] And the guests we have are really because we wanted to talk to them. It’s not because they have projects to sell. It’s zero one show of plogues”, adds the one who will welcome Patrick Huard in the studio for his premiere on Thursday.

No discomfort

The tone is intended above all to be humorous, but Martin Matte will not avoid deeper subjects if the interview ever comes to fall into a more serious register. Even if it means getting out of his pretentious and sarcastic stage persona, which Quebecers have known for more than 25 years now.

“In the pilot show that we filmed, Louis-José Houde was the guest, and we had a very nice conversation about medication and antidepressants. It was very deep, but we laughed a lot too. I like it when it’s very touching and then very funny. Yes, it remains above all an entertainment show, but I find that the drama always has more depth when it is mixed with humor,” argues Martin Matte.

He had also written The beautiful discomforts in the same state of mind. This successful comedy, in which he played himself, was adapted in France, Belgium and Serbia. Originally broadcast between 2014 and 2017, it had a second incarnation on TVA during the pandemic. And it is not excluded that the series will return to the air again in a few years, suggests the comedian.

He is also working on a new series, also inspired by his life. The action takes place in the 1990s, at the time when he left the family business to study at the National School of Humor. Much to the chagrin of his entrepreneur father, who should be played by Martin Matte. “I am hesitant to talk more about it, because we are currently negotiating with a broadcaster,” he slips before changing the subject, preferring to focus on Martin Matte live.

The comedian signed with TVA for 10 episodes this fall, but does not hide the fact that he hopes that his talk show will be renewed for several years if it meets the expected success.

Profession: comedian

At the same time, Martin Matte is also these days the headliner of a new advertising campaign for Maxi, of which he has been the spokesperson for seven years now. At a time when the managers of major chains are accused of having inflated their prices to levels which far exceed inflation, Martin Matte assures that he has never questioned this association with the discount brand.

“If anything happens that I’m not comfortable with, I’m going to leave. But that’s not the case right now, he says. All supermarkets, not just Maxi, have to deal with inflation. They are at the end of the chain. Afterwards, can the government help set prices? I don’t know if you know, but it’s not my responsibility,” jokes the comedian, who, as in his series, skillfully knows how to get around discomfort with humor.

One thing is certain, Martin Matte will be very present on the small screen this fall. Those who hope to see him again on stage will therefore have to be patient. His fourth solo show is not for tomorrow.

“The stage is an extreme sport. When I hear Olympic athletes talk about their profession, I find that there is something very similar in the stand-up. There is performance anxiety which is harder to manage than when I do TV. I’m sure the desire to return to the stage will come back. It’s not a disenchantment. But at the moment — this year and next year, at least — I’m concentrating on television,” confides the man whose latest show, Oh my…!dates back to 2018.

Appointment TV

Martin Matte is one of those who still believes in traditional TV. He still doubted it for a moment, when TVA offered him the opportunity to host a talk show. In recent years, several comedians have preferred to turn to podcasting, a much less rigid format than television. The arrival of platforms has also changed the situation. Audience ratings exceeding two million, as at the time of Beautiful discomfortshave become extremely rare.

But all this taken into account, Martin Matte still came to the conclusion that good old TV still had a future ahead of it. We still need to succeed in creating events that can bring people together at a specific time. Hence the interest in this new talk show being live rather than delayed.

“I think that television, when it is live, there is still something going on. It becomes a meeting, believes Martin Matte. It’s Thursday and that’s when it’s happening. The question arose if we shot before, with editing. It would have been safer, but the show would not have had the same energy. »

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