Comedian Gad Elmaleh returns to Quebec four years after controversy
Four years after being accused of plagiarism on comedians, including Louis-José Houde and Martin Petit, Gad Elmaleh will return to Quebec on Sunday. He will conclude the tour Besides, his sixth show, in front of a Bell Center that has been sold out for months. “I am very moved by it”, affirms the popular humorist in an exclusive interview with the Log.
Gad Elmaleh had not addressed either the Quebec public or the local media since this controversy four years ago. However, this case of plagiarism of jokes, revealed by the YouTube channel CopyComic, had made a lot of noise at home.
Since then, the comedian has acknowledged, in the French media, having made “loans” to his associates, to which are added Martin Matte and Patrick Huard. « I wouldn’t do it again, but I don’t regret it because I’ve never been in a malicious move, » he told the newspaper. The Parisian in the fall of 2019.
What Gad Elmaleh regrets is having remained silent here during these months of controversy, admitting that he should have « been present in the dialogue » and that he could have « managed things with less pride , to be completely honest, » he told the Log from Paris, in a virtual interview.
« One of my mistakes is that I should have had a dialogue with Quebecers sooner, I should have shared my feelings sooner, expressed my version of the facts with more humility », specifies the comedian, who has made a career throughout the Francophonie and the United States.
The 51-year-old comedian nevertheless judges that the crisis has taken on a “disproportionate magnitude” in Quebec. Several comedians were particularly virulent towards him, including Mike Ward.
« I found the attacks were so outrageous, » he recalls. But above all, it was very, very violent. My family in Quebec called me to tell me: you must have done something very serious, it can’t be just that. […] What surprised me was that it didn’t stop. It was again and again, and above all, there was no dialogue possible.
Redirect your creativity
« What’s important now is what I got out of it, » says Gad Elmaleh today, who is able to recognize, four years later, that the crisis was good. « Those shots brought me a lot, » he said.
It was after the controversy that Gad Elmaleh gave birth to his sixth show, By the waythe one man show « the most intimate » of his career. He has also just made his second film, in which he plays the title role. Entitled Stay a bit, the feature film, which will be released in Quebec soon, recounts his religious identity crisis. These “very personal” projects take him out of his “comfort zone”.
“Somehow, I wonder if this episode [d’accusations de plagiat] did not shake me in my creativity and did not force me to do things so singular that I could not be compared to anyone. What happens in the show, when I analyze each word, these are situations that I alone have experienced and that we cannot imagine that it is borrowed. Unconsciously, it pushed me to redefine myself, to be unique, to be bold in my creativity. I won’t go so far as to thank them [ceux qui l’ont dénoncé], but in any case, in the end, it was beneficial!” he analyzes, laughing.
The public at the rendezvous
When asked if, in the face of the media storm, he thought he had to give up on his career in Quebec, Gad Elmaleh, whose international career quickly resumed its wanderings, replied that he was afraid of » dislike » of the public.
But the Quebec public has spoken: without any promotion, tickets for the Bell Center sold like hot cakes. “When my producer told me we were sold out, that was the best response I could hear. I’m very grateful. […] I think the audience decides. And in this moment of fragility, I didn’t have the audience’s response, I was questioning, I only had doubts. But today, the enthusiasm of the public is a caress.
« And the Bell Center is emblematic for me, » he adds. I saw stars there that I admired. I started my career in Montreal on December 10, 1994 at the Just for Laughs Museum cabaret in front of 20 people. And to come back 27 years later, sold out at the Bell Centre, it is a source of pride and great, great joy.”
It’s best just to laugh
Without minimizing what he has done in the past, Gad Elmaleh tackles accusations of plagiarism head on in this show he will present at the Bell Center on Sunday evening. No way for him to dodge the subject.
“I’m going to be happy to talk about it, with a lot of happiness and enthusiasm, he insists, laughing. I don’t do it much in shows anymore, but there, in Quebec, I’m going to have fun with it because it made such an impression and was so destabilizing. And I even do it for my personal pleasure!”
In addition to this controversial subject, Gad Elmaleh intimately addresses the subjects of notoriety, his celibacy at 51, his American adventure and religion. After the end of his tour, he will return to creation in the club comedy circuit for a new show. And, of course, he wants to continue to maintain this link that is so precious to him with Quebecers.
« I can’t wait to arrive on Saturday, with all that entails, I really want to sit down and speak with the public. »
“I am so moved to find myself with the Quebec public. »
“The Bell Center is emblematic for me. I saw stars there that I admired. I started my career in Montreal on December 10, 1994 at the Cabaret du Musée Juste pour rire in front of 20 people. And to come back 27 years later, sold out at the Bell Centre, it’s a source of pride and great, great joy. »
“It’s easier to talk about it with hindsight. I would have loved to have had the same serenity four years ago. It took on a magnitude that I consider disproportionate. »
“I can’t wait to arrive on Saturday, with all that entails, I really want to sit down and talk to the public. »
“It’s my most intimate show in the way I approach the subjects. I put myself in the position of a bitch, a guy who is struggling, for whom it is difficult. »
– Gad Elmaleh
Gad Elmaleh will be performing on Sunday at the Bell Centre.