Have you ever been in a situation so ridiculous you couldn’t believe it was actually happening? If you’re lucky, you’ll find out that you’re in the middle of being pranked. And if you happen to be in Montreal in Quebec, Canada, you just might fall victim to one of the best pranksters on planet Earth! Just in time for Easter, I am honored to have actor/prankster Denis Levasseur on the show today. Denis has portrayed so many memorable characters, from butchers, bakers, drunks, mattress salesmen, police officers, and yes… even Jesus!
It’s one thing for an actor to show up on set and be handed a script. But what makes Denis so remarkable is that he has to think on his feet and ad-lib to get the best response out of unsuspecting people. Denis started on the Canadian TV show Just For Laughs: Gags in 2003 when the show was just in it’s third season. He has since become the face of the show because of his natural ability to take on a character and stay in that character until the prank is revealed. As of our interview, he has over 2,000 pranks under his belt!
I scheduled the interview for today (4/19/2019) because Easter is Sunday, and some of my favorite gags are those in which Denis plays Jesus! He walks on water, changes water into wine, and more! Watch this compilation of his Jesus pranks below:
Another popular character played by Denis Levasseur is a police officer. We talk a lot about days when they shoot police gags. Does he get approached for help when in costume? Do people recognize him as a cop? You’ll have to listen to the Classic Conversation to find out!
One of my absolute favorite pranks features Denis playing a blind man who needs to relieve himself. Turns out he ends up peeing on people floating by in a lazy river! Clearly he knows that people are going to get pissed (pardon the pun), and he is right! The man at the end of the video chases him out of camera range! What happened when the camera stopped rolling? Listen to the Classic Conversation to find out!
Mr. Levasseur told me that he is always looking in the eyes of his target. If he feels that it won’t work, he instantly stops and lets them in on the gag. If he feels he is in danger, he instantly stops the gag. It’s all about the look in their eyes! In fact the only time he was slapped (pretty hard, too!), was when he wasn’t looking in the eyes of the person being pranked. He speaks about this in our Classic Conversation. Of all the pranks Denis has pulled off, his favorite is when he played a mattress salesman. Why you ask? It’s all in the eyes! Watch the prank below, and listen to our Classic Conversation to hear about what happened behind the scenes!
What I find most charming about the show is that in it’s original form there is no dialogue. That’s why it’s become a huge hit on over 140 countries around the world! Instead of just running the show as is here in the good ol’ U.S.A., they did what you’d expect… they Americanized it. During the writer’s strike of 2007, ABC launched a version hosted by Rick Smith that showed clips from the Canadian show. While the original version didn’t have a host or narrator, the U.S. version has a host or emcee explain each prank in advance of the action. After three seasons it was cancelled in 2009 before returning to American TV in 2015. Even though Just For Laughs: Gags is being introduced to a whole new audience here in America, I love that I can still watch the original Canadian version on CBC (check your local listings). Interesting side note for Xfinity customers when searching for the show, if the title has a colon you’ve found the Canadian version, Just For Laughs: Gags. The American version is listed as Just For Laughs Gags with no colon.
The team is still at it, cooking up new pranks year after year! Look for new episodes featuring my friend Denis Levasseur, and look for his autobiography coming soon! I will have him back on the show when it is released.
Merci beaucoup, Denis! Thank you very much!