Tag Archives: Mark Forward

Mark Forward aims to win All of the Awards in fantastic Crave stand-up special

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.

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Just For Laughs and CraveTV partner on three new original stand-up specials

From a media release:

Just For Laughs and CraveTV announced today that they will once again partner on three hour-long CraveTV Original stand-up comedy specials, exclusively for the premium streaming service. Showcasing Canada’s own Robby Hoffman, DJ Demers, and Mark Forward, the new stand-up specials will be taped in front of a live audience at Toronto’s Longboat Hall as part of JFL42, Toronto’s Just For Laughs comedy festival, before landing on CraveTV later this year.

Heading into its seventh edition, JFL42, running from September 20-29, 2018, is a pass-based interactive comedy festival allowing comedy fans to access more shows than ever before, establishing itself as one of today’s most successful and innovative comedy events.

The new stand-up specials join the long list of projects that Just For Laughs and Bell Media have partnered on in the past, including six seasons of JUST FOR LAUGHS: ALL ACCESS and HOMEGROWN COMICS HOSTED BY K. TREVOR WILSON (premiering on Monday, September 3 at 9 p.m. ET on The Comedy Network). CraveTV’s first three original stand-up specials taped at JFL42 in 2017: DARCY MICHAEL GOES TO CHURCH, DEB DIGIOVANNI: HERE’S THE THING, and GRAHAM CHITTENDEN: RELUCTANT ADULT, which are all currently streaming on CraveTV.

Robby Hoffman is a writer and performer who just wrapped writing for TruTV’s THE CHRIS GETHARD SHOW. This year, she was named one of Comedy Central’s ‘Up Next’ comedians. She was recently a writer on the CBC shows WORKIN’ MOMS, and BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW, and won an Emmy for her work on PBS’ ODD SQUAD. As a comedian, Hoffman has performed in many renowned festivals, including the Montréal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, Bridgetown, and Denver’s Crom Festival.

DJ Demers is an award-winning stand-up comedian. Demers appeared on Season 11 of NBC’s AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, and has performed stand-up on TBS’ CONAN. Winner of the 2014 Homegrown Comics Competition at the prestigious Montréal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, Demers has also performed as part of Toronto’s JFL42 Comedy Festival. Winner of the 2013 Toronto Comedy Brawl, and finalist on NBC’s STAND-UP FOR DIVERSITY, Demers also won ‘Best Breakout Artist’ at the 2015 Canadian Comedy Awards. In 2018, his album, [Indistinct Chatter], was nominated for a JUNO Award for Best Comedy Album.

Mark Forward is a multi-award-winning comedian. He has performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and made his 10th return to the Montréal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival this summer. He’s been on Comedy Central’s JOHN OLIVER’S NEW YORK STAND-UP SHOW and has made a number of appearances on CBS’ THE LATE LATE SHOW. An accomplished actor, Forward was featured in the third season of FX’s FARGO, was a writer and cast member on IFC and The Comedy Network’s THE JON DORE TELEVISION SHOW, and is a series regular on CraveTV’s LETTERKENNY. Loved for stealing almost every scene he is in, Forward has also self-distributed a phenomenal comedy special- and it’s only 99 cents!

The CraveTV Original stand-up specials are co-produced by Just For Laughs Television and Counterfeit Pictures in association with Bell Media’s CraveTV. Executive producers are Bruce Hills from Just For Laughs and Dan Bennett, Shane Corkery, and Anton Leo from Counterfeit Pictures. The specials are directed by Shelagh O’Brien.

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Mark Forward takes on the Canadian comedy industry

Mark Forward isn’t afraid to call people out. Whether it’s a journalist who interviewed him months ago and still hasn’t written a piece, or asking every Canadian comic to support each other, Forward will do it.

Forward–who has written for and appeared on Mr. D, The Jon Dore Television Show and most recently CTV Extend’s Joke or Choke–Bell Media announced Monday that Joke or Choke will debut on Comedy beginning Friday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. ET–took to Twitter this week to implore homegrown comedians to celebrate their fellow comics using #promotecanadiancomic.

“Canadian comics, pull your heads out of your asses,” he typed on Thursday. “Promote a comic. Make this hashtag grow. We can help each other.” By end of day the Ontario native had posted videos of favourites like Pat Thornton, Katie Crown, Chris Locke, Kyle Radke, Craig Brown, Inessa Frantowski, Graham Chitteneden and his former Mr. D co-star Mark Little to name a few. He also traded compliments with Eric Andrews, his co-star (and target for verbal abuse) on the pair’s Mark Forward podcast, an outlandish and hilarious weekly discussion about topics like sex, danger, injury, talent, inventions and wishes.

We asked him about the state of comedy in Canada, his podcast and whether he’s ever wanted to leave this country behind for the U.S. Forward is hosting a Christmas show at The Rivoli on Monday, Dec. 15.

What made you and Eric want to do the podcast in the first place?
I really wanted to do a podcast and I had only met Eric in passing. We’d always had a good back-and-forth and different look on things. I just thought it would work and thought I’d give it a try. I said, ‘As long as I’m having fun I’m going to keep doing it.’ I didn’t think anyone would listen, but people have and people are pretty loyal to it. So we keep doing it and we’ve become better friends over doing it. It’s been good.

As long as you have a couple of good microphones you can do this kind of stuff now.
Yeah, it makes the 10-year-old in me so jealous that all these kids have access to making movies through their phones and radio programs. I remember sitting in my closet recording stuff with a tape recorder. I would have killed to put it out … thank God it’s not out there. I remember Fisher Price was selling a black and white video camera that was in the price range that a kid might be able to buy. It was like, $200, and I remember wanting that so badly. And now these kids can make their own movie in a day. It’s unreal.

Is it easier to get your name out there now that there is Twitter and YouTube to help promote yourself?
I think it’s easier, but I think it’s also doing a bit of harm to stand-up because people are able to see finished product. They’re seeing top-quality stand-up so when they go to the club they’re expecting that and it’s not always there. It’s more of a farm system building up to that. I think also people see a comic online and then they just go and see the comic they want to see at the club. It’s hurting the farm system a bit.

So, an open-mike night may suffer.
Right. You already know who you like and what you like, so you just pay your money to see that person.

Let’s talk about Joke or Choke, which aired on CTV’s Extend channel. I heard you speaking to Humble & Fred and I got the feeling you wished Joke or Choke had been on at the very least The Comedy Network. Was I off base in thinking that?
No, you were totally on base. To me it’s a no-brainer. They have this great thing in The Comedy Network. Insight did a great job with Joke or Choke and portrayed us in a less stressful, more playful light and showcased Canadian talent. If that’s not what they’re going to put on that network, then I don’t know what they’re looking for. The way Comedy Central has gone, they’re making stuff whereas here we seem so afraid. Nobody wants to make a mistake.

I think it’s a great show and I hope they make more. If not, we’ll take it somewhere else. I understand that the odder stuff isn’t going to bring in the ratings they need to bring in here, but it would be great to see some risk taken. I find it frustrating and I get why people leave but I really, really want to stay. I’ll just keep pitching.

[Editor’s note: Bell Media announced Monday that Joke or Choke will debut on Comedy beginning Friday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. ET.]

You were on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson twice [here’s a link to his July appearance] and have had success in the U.S. Have you ever considered just picking up and moving there for pilot season?

I have thought about it. I’ve had more interest on American television than I have had here. I’ve done The Jon Dore Show and Mr. D and both those guys had to push for me. Nobody wanted me. Craig Ferguson, I’ve done John Oliver … they just want you. Here I find nobody does that. I don’t think Canadians on the whole know how to create a star system. I don’t know what it is about us. I’ll be at a show in the States and I’ll get flooded on Twitter, I’ll get emails asking where they can buy my albums but here people almost think, ‘Oh, he’ll be all right.’

Man, you’re frustrated. You’re making me frustrated. I’m frustrated on your behalf.
[Laughs.] The thing is, it’s a chosen frustration. I could go, but I like it here. There are possibilities here. But this whole thing is going to sound like one angry little guy. [Laughs.]

I’m fascinated with the creative process. Do you sit down and say, ‘OK, I’m going to write some stuff for a a couple of hours,’ or do ideas just come to you when you’re walking around?
I’ve never been able to sit down and write, unless I’m writing for someone else. Then I can sit down and write them. I’m always terrified–and I think all comics are terrified–that the last joke was my last joke, especially because you don’t really notice a joke growing or building. You only remember when it’s done and you wonder, ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ You kind of forget all the nights you tried it and worked it out. One of my longest bits about the chipmunk stuff, I was just feeding chipmunks. The next thing I know I have a 20-minute bit on domestic abuse. I don’t know where it comes from. I just know that comics never stop thinking.

Does that get tiring?
It’s exhausting. You’re always investigating what’s happening around you and mining it for something.

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