Interview: Mike Ward – 'People are insane and too goddamn sensitive'
Controversial Canadian comic Mike Ward doesn’t care if you're offended by his material or not. Chances are some of you will be
Mike Ward's Fringe show has something to offer that no other one does: an $80,000 gag. Sued by the Canadian government for a joke he told, Ward decided that he may as well get his money's worth and bring it to Edinburgh. 'I talked about a dying Canadian boy whose last wish was to sing for the Pope. I made fun of the fact that, eight years later, the kid isn’t dead yet. When the family found out about the joke, they contacted the Human Rights Commission who, in turn, sued me for $80,000.'
Obviously, personal taste dictates whether or not you'll find the gag objectionable, but Ward isn't one to shy from controversial material. In 2008 he joked about a young girl who was abducted the year earlier (and whose remains were found in 2015). He honestly doesn't care if you take offence. 'As long as I think it's funny I'll do it. My type of humour isn't for everyone, but people who like it seem to like it a lot. Freedom of speech is the most important thing. If a comedian is afraid to say what pops in his head he'll never come up with something daring, something original, something brilliant.'
Ward performs in both French and English, but isn't sure which crowd reacts best to him. 'I have noticed that people get offended for different reasons depending on where they're from, and they react in different ways. Canadians sue, Americans protest, Brits heckle, and the French get shot for funny drawings. People are insane and too goddamn sensitive.' As for Edinburgh audiences, he reckons he'll be fine. 'I'm a really good person with really mean jokes. Or is it a really mean person with really good jokes? Either way, they're going to love the show.'
Mike Ward: Freedom of Speech Isn't Free, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 6–28 Aug (not 25), 8.45pm, £10–£12. Previews 3–5 Aug, £5.