Christian Bégin admits this bluntly. He was stunned by the negative reviews his solo show received last fall. “It was catastrophic. I thought it was awful,” says the one who rolled up his sleeves to come back with an improved show, which he delivers with much more glee today. Interview with the 59-year-old artist who will return to the animation of the concept evening in a few days The night of depression.
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This will be your third time hosting The night of depression. Why are you coming back to do this event?
“It’s always one of my best evenings of the year. It’s a unique and exceptional show with a cast that you can’t find anywhere else. There are about twenty guests. It ranges from Ariane Moffatt to Luc De Larochellière, Laurence Jalbert and Catherine Éthier. This is one of the most impressive and diverse line-ups currently seen on stage in Montreal. […] It’s a liberating and feel-good show. The world comes out electrified. You experience a whole range of emotions. Plus it’s for a good cause. All proceeds from the evening go to the Ronald Denis Foundation. So it’s about doing good as well as doing good to others.
What is this evening about?
“There are sad songs and numbers that are all about depression. But the accumulation of sad numbers makes it one of the funniest nights. So we’re second degree, which is very good. There is something absolutely magical about this evening. […] We have every reason to bubble right now. The fact that we are putting depression at the center of the evening creates a kind of catharsis. We greet depression with much ridicule.”
How’s your solo show tour going The 8 Deadly Sins?
“It’s going really well today. But it’s a show that “secretly” started. The critical reception last autumn hit me very hard. It took a lot of humility and hard work. After a really rocky start I found my show, I polished it. I fell in love with the show. […] I’m happy because I really suffered. I wanted to let go. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was in a love-hate relationship with my show. Everything fitted together. The show works, people laugh. I think it’s a show that has found its audience.”
Why was getting started so difficult?
“I guess I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t let it run enough. I come from the theater where you don’t run the shows. We return to the theater and a week later it’s the first. I hadn’t tried my first two solo exhibitions at all. I had returned straight to Montreal. But there I was, after a 25-year absence at my age and unprepared with the expectations of this show. I hadn’t bothered to give the public all the keys they needed to understand how secondary I am.
How did you react to the negative reviews the day after the premiere?
“It was catastrophic. I found it very difficult. It’s a terrible ego wound. Because when you’re alone on stage, you’re the only person responsible for what happens. It was the first time that I was confronted with such consistently harsh, confrontational and bad reviews. There are even some that I found violent. I found it extremely difficult, but you have no choice. It’s a job, it’s a job. I cried all the tears in my body. But you roll up your sleeves, you work and you do your job.
What TV projects are you working on?
“I will be wrapping up filming on the new Isabelle Langlois series soon [Rumeurs, Mauvais karma], the candidate. I have a super nice role, a kind of Big Lebowski, always angry grumpy but also lovable and very funny. It’s a great dramatic comedy about politics. I’m also resuming shooting for Y’a du monde à mass and Curieux Bégin. […] My professional life couldn’t be more generous to me right now. I am one of the privileged few in this profession.”
- The show The night of depression takes place on Monday at the Théâtre St-Denis. theaterrestdenis.com. Christian Bégin continues the tour of his one-man show The 8 Deadly Sins. For appointments: christianbegin.ca