• Jules-Pierre Malartre

French comic takes on English in fundraiser show


Having only learned English four years ago hasn’t stopped comic Sébastian Bourgault from expanding and honing his stand-up comedy routine for audiences across North America.

Some might think that they have to head downtown to enjoy good stand-up comedy, but the West Island hosts great comedy shows nowadays with participants like stand-up comic Sébastien Bourgault, who will headline a special benefit show October 8 in Pointe-Claire Village's Resto Bar Le Pionnier.

Bourgault was a well-known Radio-Canada columnist, TV commercial actor and spokesperson before he stepped on stage to become a stand-up comic. He cites a mix of both French and English-speaking stand-up comics as influences, including Daniel Lemire, Jean-Marc Parent, Jim Carrey and Jerry Seinfeld. "Seeing Daniel Lemire onstage inspired me to change career gear," Bourgault reveals.

Bourgault did not speak a word of English just five years ago, before launching his English stand-up comedy routine. "I always wanted to do comedy in English. I was 36. I had a great career in French, but I wanted something more. I wanted a challenge, and it was a challenge to learn English, because there was no guarantee I would be as funny in English as I was in French." Bourgault says that English stand-up comedy is a different beat, a different drive. "It's been eight months now. I just moved to Toronto to improve my control. (People in Toronto) don't understand the language problem here in Quebec. I enjoy doing a show in Montreal. There are jokes I can make here that I can't make in Toronto, because they don't get it. Like why I learned to speak English."

Strong from his previous performances here at home, including various comedy club appearances and shows during Just for Laughs and Grand Rire, Bourgault has already performed in English across the US border, namely at the Gotham comedy club in New York, and at some renowned Los Angeles comedy venues, including the Comedy Store and Hollywood Improv. Bourgault's signature humour bridges the Francophone and Anglophone language and cultural gap. Bourgault usually opens his comedy routine saying he's French Canadian.

"Some people applaud, others boo me down. "It's not my fault, I was born that way," he always replies to general applause. "Then I relate how some people ask me why I learned English. I then use my hands to picture where Quebec is on the map, and I say, 'because, if I go out of Quebec, I'm screwed' − that usually brings the house down." You can sample more of Bourgault's unique brand of humour on Youtube (youtu.be/g1MNF2UQpwc).

Bourgault feels that Quebec audiences are still very strong. "I still book a lot of appearances in Montreal, especially in the West Island. I continue to offer performances in French, of course. And I'm always happy to do a show for a good cause."

Proceeds from Bourgault's October 8 show will help raise funds for the Montreal Children's Hospital through non-profit organisation Kiki 4 Kids. The show will be presented at Resto Bar Le Pionnier, 286 Lakeshore Road, at 8 p.m. Tina Jutras, Heavy T, Natalie Willett, Hrair Tarpanian, Evangelia Alexipoulos and Bourgault will headline the show. Tickets are $25 each, and you can obtain them through the show's producer, Richard T. Thomas by phone at (438) 873-3131 or email at richardthomasmullan@gmail.com. You can also visit Resto Bar Le Pionnier's Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/864604803672322 to find out more about the show. You can find out more about Kiki 4 Kids by visiting their website at kiki4kids.com.