Edgar-Yves, comedian: “Let the Africans fire everyone and take responsibility! »

He rarely appears on TV, but his latest show, “Solid”, is sold out everywhere in France

Edgar-Yves, comedian: “Let the Africans fire everyone and take responsibility! »

He rarely appears on TV, but his latest show, “Solid”, is sold out everywhere in France. Edgar-Yves was in Lille on October 24, in Toulon on the 26th, in Marseille the previous week. A fast-paced tour, which delights the 36-year-old Franco-Beninese comedian. “If enjoying life means being a wanker, then I’m an elite wanker,” he says with a burst of laughter. Happiness here on earth is the privilege of courageous people. To live as you want, you have to be a solid person, that is to say, be able to enter into opposition if necessary,” assures the thirty-year-old, in jogging pants and a black hoodie, at the instead of the usual wax jacket he wears on stage.

Edgar-Yves Junior Monnou, his real name, grew up between France and Benin. Of his native country, he could “say that it is the most corrupt in the world,” he explains in the sketch that launched him in 2020, “Corruption,” “but the problem is that neighboring countries could sue him for defamation.” The comedian makes no secret of it: he comes from “a well-off family, really well-off, even rich”. His father, Edgar-Yves Monnou, was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Benin from 1995 to 1996, under the presidency of Nicéphore Soglo, and ambassador to Paris between 2003 and 2007.

While the diplomat dreams of a career as a lawyer for his son, the future comic abandons his license in Poitiers in 2010 and finds himself on the street at 24. To survive, he confides in the show Blast, he steals sandwiches from stores and begs. Thanks to a friend who accommodated and fed him free of charge, he reintegrated and found a position as a customer service manager. This one-year experience allowed him to receive unemployment benefits and finally realize his project: launching into stand-up by creating the West Side Comedy Club in Nantes with friends in 2012.

For a long time, after this breakup, the bond between father and son remained distant. He reconnected. Edgar-Yves Monnou did not hold it against “Junior” for having painted him as a “thief”. He even congratulated him. Ultimately, it was the older brother, a tax lawyer, who took over the family practice; the big sister, a chef, owns a restaurant near Carcassonne; the little one finished as valedictorian at Sciences Po Paris before she too gave up everything to become a police officer. What about the youngest? “She… she’s in good health,” dodges the comedian, seeming to say that it’s the privilege of the youngest to look for themselves.

In January 2021, it was through his absence that Edgar-Yves was noticed: he was censored by Comédie, a channel of the Canal group, on which the show “Etoiles Hope Humor du Parisien” was broadcast, recorded in November 2020. The Franco-Beninese's performance is cut during editing. In his sketch “Corruption”, he draws a parallel between Vincent Bolloré, majority shareholder of Canal, and Alpha Condé, president of the Republic of Guinea.

As a result, the promotion of the comedian comes down to one medium: the Internet. “I film my sketches, I post them, people laugh and they book. When they come to see me on stage, the promise is kept, so they come back. » Edgar-Yves can count on a community of 134,000 subscribers on Instagram and just over 90,000 on YouTube. Enough it seems to no longer need TV, an “old media” in his own words: “I didn’t choose to be anti-system. But the cost of being part of this world is very high, it is the cost of my dignity. As they say, a small home is better than a big one in someone else's. »

Particularly political sketches

Where does he get his inspiration? The Franco-Beninese cites the Anglo-Saxon stand-ups David Chappelle, Jim Jefferies and Ricky Gervais. In France, Roman Frayssinet and Blanche Gardin are his preference and, among the elders, Coluche, Desproges, Dieudonné, "who, he specifies, was extremely funny before multiplying his anti-Semitic outings".

He appreciates humor that carries a message, with particularly political sketches: “Colonization”, “Corruption” and its sequel, “Censorship”, or “The barbecue” which targets vegans. “I try in my own way through laughter to inspire and raise awareness,” emphasizes Edgar-Yves. He, who considers himself an Afropean, does not hesitate to comment on the “catastrophic” situation on the continent since the successive coups d’état.

“Because I am African and French, I have a front-row seat to see how unbalanced the relationship between France and Africa is. My role is to say that Africans must find the means to be truly independent, by going neither towards the Russians, nor towards the Europeans nor towards the Chinese, but by fighting,” he insists. His advice: “Let the Africans fire everyone and take responsibility! »

Proud and ambitious without hiding it, Edgar-Yves looks straight in the eyes and speaks with a voice that carries: “The new generation, we are not here to queue or extend our hand. If the door is closed to us, we go through the window. Okay, it’s not easy to be black in France, we can see the current political climate very clearly. But I want to say that, despite everything, I managed to find a way. »

The ultimate dream for the comedian would be to play one of his shows at the Stade de France. Or to launch a new humor festival in West Africa, which would start in Benin and showcase young talents from the continent.