When it comes to choosing a career path, most wise people forget about the dreams they had as kids, to settle on more stable and safer options. Others, out of madness or out of vision, will refuse to resign and will do anything in their power to realize their aspirations.
This is the destiny of Les Appendices, an absurd humor group formed by Dave Bélisle, Julien Corriveau, Jean-François Chagnon, Dominic Montplaisir, Jean-François Provençal and Sonia Cordeau, accompanied by actress Anne-Élisabeth Bossé. Each week, the group takes its viewers into a world of crazy sketches, hilarious songs and insane parodies. Les Appendices have succeeded, with a little bit of luck and a lot of talent, to create a unique and sustainable TV universe that continues to attract more and more viewers over the years.
The cast of Les Appendices
Behind every great success...
If big dreams are realized quicker with the help of a fairy godmother, Les Appendices owes a debt of magic to Producer Marie Brissette.
The journey that led Marie to the world of television is unusual. Initially a student in biochemistry, she went back to university to study communications, specializing in scientific communication. But Marie's passion for comedy was stronger than everything else, so she let go of science and turned definitively towards comedy. Marie then worked as a freelance Director for 25 years before becoming a Producer.
It was when she was a Director on the comedy series Le Sketch Show that she met “Les Appendices,” this group of young people who wrote for the show: “I thought their texts were often the best ones!” Getting to know them, Marie wanted to help them go further: “Like me, the Director Gilbert Dumas, who also worked on The Sketch Show, had scented their potential. The Appendices have been friends since they were teenagers. We did not create them.” The next goal was to find the team a home: “Their talent was recognized by the broadcasters. When Martin Roy arrived at Télé-Québec to become the new programming General Director, he gave us a chance. It was truly a huge risk to launch Les Appendices on TV since it was so different... And we are on our 9th year!”
Marie is not the only one to have supported Les Appendices since day one. Mélanie Viau was also there from the beginning as Executive Producer of the show. At the time, she was working at KOTV. Then in 2014, Les Productions Marie Brissette was sold to KOTV. Mélanie continued the endeavour of Les Appendices at KOTV, with Marie becoming Vice-President of Development.
Producer Marie Brissette
The recipe for longevity
The series Les Appendices has been broadcast on television for almost a decade now, almost twice as long as the legendary humor group Rock & Belles Oreilles. To survive, they had to devote themselves entirely to their art. As the Vice-President of Development, Marie explains: “They are scholars of comedy; true intellectuals of humor. They have seen and read everything. They are passionate. Their collective work method allows them to keep only the best.”
To stay on TV, Les Appendices also had to grow quickly while being multi-talented: “They learned the trade by doing it. In terms of comic efficiency, their learning has been exponential. When they started, they were mainly writers and actors, but they gradually assumed all the creative roles: direction, music, computer graphics, special effects, editing...” says Marie Brissette enthusiastically. “It is a great pride that the show still lasts, after all these years. The broadcaster has always been our partner: since the beginning, there have been three different programming directors at Télé-Québec… but in spite of that, we stayed” she adds.
The spirit of the group is reflected at every step of the work for Les Appendices, as explained by the Executive Producer Melanie Viau: “Beyond Les Appendices themselves, we have faithful teams that give always more than expected. If the quality of the show can increase, while the budget never did, it is thanks to this loyal, generous and dedicated team.” Marie Brissette agrees: “We must constantly improve, because the challenge is to renew ourselves. It must remain funny, good, without slowing down.”
Indeed, writing remains the foundation. Ideally, the team tries to write an entire season before they start shooting. Then, in order to optimize shooting, it is filmed by set, by universe, and not by episode. The production team must assemble a real puzzle, taking into account all of the sets and all the characters of the season in order to make the process as efficient as possible. Mélanie knows the reality: “It takes a lot of flexibility and adaptation. Every shooting day must be full, to take out the most of what is there. It is a great coordination work and it takes a very strong team to support this.”
On the set of Les Appendices
For the fans
All of this work has yielded a very strong community of viewers. Marie remains amazed at the reaction of the public: “Their fans are very present. They have a good relationship with their audience. They are also very popular with the Millennials, even if it is a generation that is usually hard to reach in television. Also, we sometimes make sketches with guest artists, which makes it possible to reach an even wider audience and gain popularity. It's surprising, but Les Appendices also has a big fan club in Europe. It must be said that they take good care of their audience: they make themselves available on the web. They are always ready to make new projects and share them. Moreover, they are constantly looking to push their product further and are keen to create with new technologies. For example, through their application (the APPendice), they were the first in their field to realize a 360-degree immersive sketch, which can be viewed with virtual reality glasses.”
From a gang of teenagers who laughed while listening to Monty Python and François Pérusse, Les Appendices has become an icon of humor in its own right.
Follow Les Appendices on Twitter, Facebook, and on Télé-Québec (Sunday at 6 :30 PM and 1 AM, Monday and Tuesday at midnight, Friday at 7 PM and Saturday at 12:30 AM). The APPendice is available in the APP Store and Google Play.
The cast of Les Appendices wigging out!