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Government of New Brunswick

Yves Doucet

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Yves Doucet, Photo : Jocelyne Vautour

Since his standup debut in 2014, Yves Doucet has become one of Acadie's renowned comedians. He has won the "l'Acadie Juste pour rire" competition, participated in UnisTV's D'un rire à l'autre galas, and shared the stage with established comedians, including Mike Ward, Korine Côté and Pierre-Bruno Rivard.

At the Hubcap 2020 Festival, he opened for Mariana Mazza's Femme ta gueule at Théâtre Capitol. Thanks to these experiences - and his many social networking quibbles - Yves presented his very first one-man show, Vouloir c'est pouvoir, in 2024.

In his "other life", he has worked in education for 25 years. His teaching experiences in Shediac and Moncton have led him to his current position as educational leader for the District scolaire francophone Sud. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to become involved in many issues related to identity building, language, culture, and diversity. He has worked with many partners, including the New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Fédération des jeunes francophones du NB, the Université de Moncton and the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick, as well as events such as the Salon du livre de Dieppe and the Frye Festival, where he also acted as administrator. He tries to use his voice and his social privilege to defend diversity, the emancipation of minorities and the empowerment of real collaboration.

He also loves bacon.

What led you to become an artist?

I was a pretty shy kid. Towards the end of Grade 11, at École secondaire Nepisiguit in Bathurst, my friend Anne-Marie (thank youuu!) invited me to attend an improv team practice. It was love at first sight (for improv, that is - Anne-Marie is very nice, but she's still a friend). And improvisation taught me to be much less afraid of making people laugh at me... because I was learning to make people laugh at me intentionally!

Later, some friends I'd done improv with started doing standup. And I felt like trying it too. My first experience was in the amateur competition "L'Acadie Juste pour rire" as part of the Hubcap Comedy Festival in Moncton. And, once again, it was love at first sight! I vowed to keep doing it as long as I wanted to. And 10 years later, I love it more than ever!

How did your training and experience help you to create and innovate in your artistic practice?

I studied science at university, which fits in very well with my "nerd" personality. And I think that colours my humour, which is based more on observation than on a highly creative process.

I also have training and experience in teaching high school math and science. Teaching has given me a taste for connecting with people, and for de-dramatizing potential conflicts. Laughter lifts the mood, and that served me well in the classroom.

What stimulates you most about your practice?

I think I do humour for two main reasons. Firstly, laughter is good for your health, and knowing that I'm contributing to people's well-being makes me happy.

But in all honesty, I also do humour for my ego! There's not much feeling that compares to a crowd laughing out loud at what I've written and performed myself. It's very rewarding. And when I think back to the shy little guy I used to be, it gives me great pleasure to see how far I've come...

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Yves Doucet, Photo : Jocelyne Vautour

How has living and working in New Brunswick helped and/or inspired you on your journey?

Doing humour here makes it easier for me to connect with my audience. We understand each other right away, we have the same frame of reference. And some people have seen me on stage many times and become my anchors. I can rely on their reactions to help me adjust.

And since my humour deals mainly with banalities, the absurdity of everyday details, and simple anecdotes, the fact that I can tell this to an audience whose experience is quite similar to mine makes things easier.

But I'd also like to point out that we have an intelligent, cultured and even demanding comedy audience back home. When I have access to a microphone, I feel it's important to deliver a performance that lives up to their expectations. And the few times I've been able to perform outside my native Acadia, I've done so superbly, in large part because my home audience had supported me!

What's the creation process like for an act or a show?

Oh, how I wish I had a great creative process story to share... But unlike many people who work in humour, my writing is often quite random, almost impulsive. I have a note in my phone where I write down ideas that pop into my head, or when someone around me says something that might contain a humourous element. Humourous writing, in my experience, is mostly about finding ways to tell an anecdote, or share an observation, using the right words, in the right order, to surprise. It's strategic... but at the same time, very organic. And, yes, many of my best jokes come from people around me (who will know who they are).

Why do you think it's important to make art and pursue an artistic career?

Creativity is life. If all you do is repeat, reproduce and follow, are you really living your life? I'm lucky enough to live my creativity in public, on stage. But that's no more important or impressive than all the people who demonstrate their creativity in a thousand and one other ways. There are people who demonstrate creativity in their career choices, their clothing choices, their family structures, their daily routines.

And I don't think you have to share your creations for them to have value. Creativity can be very personal. But I am convinced that we need to create in order to flourish. And to nurture creation, we also need to consume arts and culture, to support the creative impulses of those who choose to share them with the public. Go see comedy shows, plays, films, buy music, buy art, support artists in any way you can. The arts give us a soul...

What have you learned about yourself and New Brunswick's artistic community through your work?

In New Brunswick's comedy and arts community, I've discovered passionate, daring people. People who are enterprising and organized. I also continue to find a great deal of goodwill. Since the very beginning of my crazy standup adventure, SO many people have offered me words of encouragement, appreciation, advice, tips, and jokes. It's very nourishing.

And along the way, I've chosen to laugh at myself as often as possible, which has made me rethink who I am, where I've come from and where I'm going. My very first solo show, Vouloir c'est pouvoir, may look like a succession of light-hearted jokes and anecdotes, but in it I explore and reveal many aspects of myself, my experiences, and my path. It's probably the most honest mirror I've ever looked into.

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Yves Doucet, Photo : Jocelyne Vautour

What do you think is the impact of artists' work on communities and the province as a whole?

In my opinion, the world of humor is still emerging in New Brunswick. We've been doing it for a long time (since the Ensemble Vide, the Frères Smouthe and the characters from Le Pays de la Sagouine), but a real cohort of comedians here is still recent. Right now, I feel that the public is beginning to understand that we're here, that we have a very solid comedy product to offer. There are, of course, excellent comedians from elsewhere who regularly come to perform here in New Brunswick, but I don't think we have anything to envy them. And the more opportunities our local comedians have to take the mic, the faster the improvement. So, I urge local venues and presenters to dare to embark on this adventure with us. Laughter is fundamentally good for your health, and I firmly believe that if audiences have the chance to laugh with someone from here, the value of identity doubles the benefit of laughter!

What advice would you give to people who want to pursue a career in humor?

Dare to try! When I first considered entering the amateur contest, I had my doubts. But a friend who was already into humour (thanks, Nathan) said, quite simply, "What have you got to lose?" And he was absolutely right. Humour isn't easy. But it's possible, it's accessible. You have to want it, you have to dare to do it, and you have to commit to spending time on it. And, above all, you have to want to improve and receive positive criticism. But please, DARE!

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