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The Three “Martins” : Martin Petit (#194)

This is the last of the posts in the “Martins” series.

Martin Petit’s career path is not unlike those of the “Martins” in the two previous posts; Maxim Martin and Martin Matte.

Petit’s first big breaks into the public arena were through improve in the 1980s, and as a member of a comedy troupe and at the Juste pour rire (Just for Laughs) festival in the 1990s.  His participation at some of the best known comedy festivals was much more high profile than most comedians – eventually allowing him to take the reins as master of ceremonies.

In the early 2000s, he made the leap to high-profile radio.  The mid-2000s saw him host his own morning radio shows.  Later he was given the opportunity to host one of the most popular radio shows in Montréal, “Le monde est Petit” (“The World is Small”, a play on his surname) on NRJ.

Petit’s radio-presence made him a household name, and added to the furor and high-ticket sales for his one-man comedy shows.  He became a “must-have” figure for various events, and he became a host for Radio-Canada’s annual gala, with 1.5 million viewers.

He embarked in acting with his role in the very successful film Les Boys 2.  His acting career continued as a cast member of the very popular TV show, Un gars, une fille.

He was a co-writer of Montréwood’s most successful movie in 2011 (in terms of box office sales), Starbuck.

He currently has his own sitcom television show, Les pêcheurs; one of the better-known weekly TV shows in Québec.

Martin Petit’s official website is http://www.martinpetit.com/ (with ticket information for his upcoming shows).

The website for the TV show, Les pêcheurs is http://lespecheurs.radio-canada.ca/emission-infos/

The Three “Martins” : Martin Matte (#193)

The last post looked at Maxim MartinThis post will look at Martin Matte.

Martin Matte’s own career is not unlike that of the other two celebrities in this “Three Martins” blog-post series.

However, of all the three Martins, Martin Mattes’ career has perhaps seen the biggest success.   He has been one of the most high-profile, highly sought after celebrities of the last couple of years in Montréwood.   For the sake of comparisons, in terms of his celebrity status (if I were to compare him to other celebrities in the same age bracket), his star power perhaps is to Montréwood what Matt Damon’s would be to Hollywood (although their career paths and focus are very different).

Martin Matte’s background was stand-up comedy, from which he launched his career in the 1990s — and which he still occasionally does (he was one of Québec’s most successful comedians of the 2000’s).   But since then, he has gone on to become a very successfully sitcom actor and charity activist.

His longest sitcom career was on Caméra Café for 4 years (until 2006).

He now is the main actor in the very successful sitcom, Les Beaux Malaises on TVA.

Considering how famous he is, I find it surprising he has not done much acting in movies.  He has done one movie, however – Nitro, in 2007

mn.mtt.1

Click HERE for a funny scene between Martin Matte & Guylaine Tremblay (the subject of an earlier post) on TVA’s website.

A short, comical scene from the sitcom Les Beaux Malaises on TVA’s YouTube channel can be viewed here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfXLtUJpoPg

One of the main reason he has become quite popular is because of his regular television appearances.  It is difficult to not see him, almost on a daily basis, somewhere on Montréwood television.  He is regularly on the most popular talk shows (for example, I think he has probably been on Tout le monde en parle more than most semi-regular guests).  He’s often seen in television advertisements and he’s usually front and centre in television gala events, as well as a regular on morning and daily variety shows.

Regardless of where you are in anglophone Canada, If you’re just starting to watch Francophone television, Martin Matte is a must-know in order to help sort out the “who’s who” in your mind.

The official website of his charity foundation is here: http://www.fondationmartinmatte.com/.

The Three “Martins” : Maxim Martin (#192)

Here’s the first celebrity in the 3-part “Martin” series:  Maxim Martin.

I’ll keep this one short since I’m doing the Montréal-Toronto trip today on the highway (I’m actually quickly writing this post from an OnRoute roadstop on the 401).

Originally Franco-Manitobain from Manitoba, Maxim Martin made his entry into Québec’s pop-culture with a big leap from doing comedy gigs in Winnipeg to doing comedy at the Juste pour Rire festival in the 1990s.  Québec has since been his home.

Considering how well known Maxim Martin is, he’s not controversial or extreme in any sense.   But there are some notable things about him.

His love-life has occasionally been the subject of tabloids and talk shows, and he doesn’t shy away from it in his own media appearances or comedy acts.  For many years, he has been a single father.

He regularly talks about his adolescent daughter, Livia, in his comedy acts and on other media platforms – and he she has appeared in television herself.  Apparently she has a twitter feed which has garnered a lot of attention.

Although he’s a comedian at heart, Martin has been a radio host on one of Montréal’s most popular radio stations, he has been the co-host of a morning television bric-a-brac show, he has hosted regular sports slots on TVA Sports (he’s a big sports fan, and he has reported quite a bit on junior hockey leagues), and he’s also an actor.

Two recent films in which Martin has starred are the thriller films Manigances (2012 & 2013).

Mgn

One thing worth mentioning is that he is one of the “greener” pop-culture stars on environmental issues.   His website even features elements on his thoughts on the idea, and the David Suzuki Foundation once did an online feature of Martin.  Maxim Martin at one point hosted an environmental program on the Canal Vox television station.

After a 2-year stage comedy absence, he came roaring back this week with sold-out shows at Théatre St-Denis in Montréal.  Just to give you an idea how popular he is, I tried for two days to get tickets in Montréal, without success, owing to how much demande there was for tickets (I guess it really was the show to see!).   Oh well… next trip.  Back to Toronto now.

His official website (with his blog, performance info & other) is www.maximmartin.com

The Three “Martins” : Introduction (#191)

Here’s a little Quiz for you (answers will be at the bottom) …

  1. Did you know that “Martin” is the most common surname (family name) in France?
  2. But in Québec, “Martin” is not the most common surname. What is it?
  3. Montréwood’s, Québec’s and Canada’s Francophone pop-culture scene has three well-known “Martins”.  Most Francophones know them.  Who might they be?

Hints:

  • The first one is Franco-Manitoban (from Winnipeg). His surname is “Martin”.
  • The second one is from Québec. His given name is “Martin”
  • The above two guys look very similar (their physiques are so similar that some people actually mix them up).
  • The third one is also from Québec. His given name is also “Martin”, but he looks nothing like the first two.
  • All three are stand-up comedians, but they also have their own television programs — either as actors or as hosts.
  • All three are in high demand for television and event appearances; so much so that we have seen them as regulars on the talk show circuit, in gala events, and as invited interview guests for years. Bluntly put, all three are staples of the Montréwood and Francophone pop-culture scene.
  • Additional hints:
    • The first one has an adolescent daughter, Livia, who is regularly referred to in the media when they talk about her dad.
    • The second one likes to talk (I mean really likes to talk)
    • And you would think that the third one likes to fish.
    • All are around the same age

Stumped?

Here are the answers:

  1. Most common Québec surname: “Tremblay”
  2. The three famous “Martins” :
    1. Maxim Martin
    2. Martin Matte
    3. Martin Petit

See if you agree with everyone else that Maxim Martin and Martin Matte look alike.  Here are google images of them:

We’ll learn more about these Martins in the next three posts.

In the meantime, I’m off to see if I can still get tickets for Maxim Martin’s big comedy show here in Montréal tonight (I drive back to Toronto tomorrow… so tonight’s my last chance to take in his show).   Talk to you again soon!!

Guy A. Lepage (#4)

Guy A. Lepage was mentioned in this blog’s first post as being the host of Tout le monde en parle.

Where does one begin (or end) when talking about Guy A. Lepage?  From a pop-culture point-of-view, he has a long list of accomplishments – a force unto himself over a period of 30 years, with wide reaching appeal in Quebec culture (but from his youthful looks and energy levels, you’d never guess he was born in 1960!).

It would take a book to write about the number of cultural and popular awards he has won, or just how well-known he is with Francophones.

In pop-culture, there are past references we can all recall from when we were younger;  references you can joke about any time, and have them instantly understood by your peers.  These shared experiences create a feeling of belonging, commonality, and sense of “yah, I remember that — yes, we are cut from the same mould – , and yes, we get each other in a way nobody from another culture could”.

That’s why pop-culture is an important building block to nationhood in the social sense.  In an English-Canadian context, an example of might be the “Chicken Lady” from Kids in the Hall.  Despite how long the show has been off air, many Anglophone Canadians in their 30’s or 40’s (maybe even 50’s) would instantly understand the context if you mimicked the Chicken Lady.   Even regurgitating that the “Polkaroo” call from Polkadot Door makes for instant recognition — a bonding feeling of “Yah, I get you… we’re definately hatched from the same nest!” (mention Polkaroo to someone in Prince George, Moose Jaw, Windsor, or St. John and you’ll get the same nod and smile).

Guy Lepage has appeared in so many popular programmes, on so many different media platforms, that it could be said he has been a source of many Québec pop-culture references over the past 30 years.   He has become a bonding figure for Québec pop-culture and society in general through the major events in Québec during that period.   That’s a powerful force in all senses of the word.  Whether it’s on purpose of inadvertent, pop-culture holds sway and influence over public opinion on a range of issues.  Being at the helm of numerous programmes also means one has a degree of control over the business and economic end of what the public will see when they turn on their television or radio in the evening.

He rose to stardom as one of the main actors in the regularly aired comedy group Rock et belles oreilles (simply known as RBO).  It ran for nearly 15 years on TV.  For comparison sake, its presentation style was similar to that of Kids in the HallKids in the Hall could be considered risqué for its time, often making fun of issues like sex and homosexuality, at a time when it was daring to touch upon those subjects on TV — let alone make fun of the issues (remember the “anal probes”?).  In a national sense, the programme probably played some role in pushing the envelope of public awareness and acceptability.

With that reference in mind, RBO also used humour during the same era, but to a broader and deeper degree (sexual inuendo,  homosexuality, politics, sovereignty issues, Anglophones, Francophones, public figures of all streams and colours, and various ethical issues).   The majority of the sketches may not have been overly controversial, but by integrating humour into sensitive topics, RBO captivated the province and drew in the masses.

Since the programme disbanded, the actors went their separate ways and continued on various paths of stardom.  But none of them achieved the status of Guy Lepage today.

In the early 2000s, he became more focused on the actual production of TV programmes.   He created the Québec version of the France TV programme Un gars une fille, which ran weekly on Radio-Canada from 1997 to 2003.   Apart from being the producer, Guy was also the main co-actor.   The show became supremely popular, centered on the funny and quirky dynamics between a husband (played by Lepage) and his wife.  The success of the series cannot be underestimated. It’s one of the most internationally prize-winning TV series in Canadian history, and has been adapted and copied in 26 other countries, more so than most any other TV programme in the history of television — full stop.   With that, Lepage has a larger-than-life status in Québec and francophone pop-culture (it may now be more apparent why I mentioned two posts earlier that there were Francophones seemingly “shocked and horrified” when Le Journal de Montréal poll revealed the vast majority of Anglophone Canadians had absolutely no idea who Lepage was – despite the international accolades he has attracted towards both Québec, and Canada as a whole).

Since Un gars une fille went off the air in 2003, Lepage was further propelled into the sky when he adapted the France TV interview show Tout le monde en parle to create the still-running Québec version, starting in 2004 (the topic of this blog’s first post).

Apart from these achievements, Lepage has been an actor in several movies, he’s been the host of several major TV events (Québec national award ceremonies, annual galas, live televised celebrations, etc.), a stage-actor, an actor in commercials, and the producer of other artistic endeavours (with the TV comedy Les Chick’n Swell also having been galvanized in Québécois collective memory).

One of the most surprising aspects of his career is his brilliance as in interviewer.  Perhaps it is owing to his boldness stemming from his RBO days of pushing the envelope into uncharted territory, or perhaps it is his overall confidence stemming from his contact with all aspects of society – but it’s undeniable that his talents as a provocative, probing, and quick-witted interviewer are quite unique.   There are elements of Québec society who may not agree with the direction he takes his interviews, which battles he picks and choses – or who he choses to single out in interviews (he does have political and social opinions), but few would deny his talent.  He nonetheless deserves much respect and accolade.

With all of this behind him, it’s a wonder Guy A. Lepage has time to sleep.  And with his energy levels and determination, it will be interesting to see what comes next, what it will lead to, and how it will shape Québec society’s collective views.

References to search online to view or read:

  • Tout le monde en parle (TLMEP)
  • Un gars une fille
  • Rock et belles oreilles (RBO)

Radio-Canada sells past programmes in various formats.  Please do not pirate.