The last time I spoke to Mark Forward, it was in 2014. Back then he’d implored Canadian comics to support “rather than slag” each other to spread the word about our homegrown talent.
Since then, Forward has taken on the memorable role of Coach on Crave’s smash-hit Letterkenny, produced his own comedy special Mark Forward Presents, available for rent or download, and revived his podcast with Eric Andrews. And, most recently, he’s also one of three Canadian comics (D.J. Demers and Robby Hoffman are the others) who has landed their own Crave original stand-up specials.
Mark Forward Wins All of the Awards is available for streaming on Crave and features new material. It is, to put it simply, hilarious. Forward ranges around the stage, riffing on death, dogs, talking bees and finding the time to make sandwiches as a single dad, discussing the absurdities of each topic and pushing his personal boundaries to get a laugh. We spoke to Forward about Mark Forward Wins All of the Awards and his experience on Letterkenny.
Where was the venue, and when was this recorded?
Mark Forward: This was recorded at JFL 42, this past September, at Longboat Hall.
In your act, you made a joke about themes and how every comedian tries to have one in their act. You were just out there being silly, and having fun. Why was that important?
MF: Because I think that’s what I’ve always done. I have the odd stuff that’s a bit rantier, but I’ve always lived in the silliness. I went to the Edinburgh Festival, and I just saw a lot of serious standup shows. So, after my first experience there, I went home and wrote this one. Silly is where I live, and what I like. I like people that let go once they come in the door, and they giggle the whole way through. That’s what I like. I have nothing against the other things, but I sure like taking the piss out of it.
This was all-new material?
MF: It’s a complete new hour. A couple of the bits have a longer life than the actual special, but they were all about death. I think the bee bit for one, was something I’ve been working on. So yeah, it was put in, it was something I wrote over a year, and I really like it. Can I say that?
Does it take a year to write? Does it sometimes take longer? How does that work?
MF: I never know when it’s coming, and I’m terrified it’s gonna stop. So, luckily for that show, I had an idea and a theme. But I’m always terrified that’s the last one.
Your stand-up act has evolved quite a bit, from the traditional to what you do now. Has it evolved organically?
MF: Totally organically. I wouldn’t have come up against doing that stuff when I was younger, because I didn’t have the confidence or the backing behind me. You have to grow organically as a comic, and start doing the stuff that makes you laugh, and that takes years to get there. But, the real initial point for me is, I was seeing Jon Dore for the first time, and he was just breaking all the rules, and it was just an eye-opening moment for me. I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to be what everybody else is. I can do the things I want to do.’
I wanted to ask you about the podcast, and the reason for you and Eric getting back together again. You joke that no one’s listening to it, and yet, you came back.
MF: We felt we needed to take some time away. I’m a big proponent of, if we’re not having total fun, then let’s not do it. So, we took a step away, and I missed it. I called him, and said, ‘Would you be willing to do it some more?’ And he was in. I think we’re having more fun than we had before, so yeah, I’m enjoying it a lot now.
Letterkenny has been a huge hit in Canada. People love it around the world, and you’ve been out on the Letterkenny tour. What’s it been like, being part of this whole world?
MF: It’s been a wild ride, and to get to know [creator] Jared [Keeso], and what a solid human being he is, it’s just been amazing, and I always text him every season, and say, ‘Is coach dead, or am I coming back?’ He has given me so much and been so kind to me, and that tour was unreal. I can’t thank that guy enough, for letting me be a part of his work ethic. I can’t say enough about that guy. He’s just a solid, solid dude. I see real joy in that he’s getting to do this, which is rare as well. He’s just happy. He should be exhausted, he should be bitchy, he should be … screaming, calling the shots, and he just doesn’t. The pressure is just … He’s unreal under it because he just loves what he’s doing.
Mark Forward Wins All of the Awards is available now on Crave.
Check out Mark’s website for upcoming stand-up dates in Ontario and Australia.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.