By Guerrier Aluc
Maxime Clerge or Pe Maximo is without a doubt very talented, but he is the most under rated comedian that has ever come out of Haiti. Maximo is best known for his stand up comedy routine that features him using a plethora of different voice impression, particularly of Haitian politicians such as President Jean Bertrand Aristide, Leslie Francois Manigat, Alexandre Bonifas, Mr. Reynold Georges, Emmanuel Charlemagne etc.
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to see the comedian in action as he was being interviewed by Alix Michel of radio Fusion FM. He gave a very strong performance and was hilarious, incredibly funny from start to finish. Soon after the performance, I sat down with Maximo for an exclusive interview.
TM- Where are you from and when did you start doing stand up comedy
Maximo- I am originally from Les Cayes, Haiti but I grew up in Port-au- Prince. I currently reside in Delmas with my girlfriend and daughter.
I started doing comedy in literary club in Port au Prince in the late 1980 and I also did stand up and theater.
TM- Literary clubs, are there any of such clubs in Haiti now
I’m not sure. To be honest, I would say that this tradition has since been lost, like many others in Haiti.
TM- Tell me about you. Who is Maxime Clerge
Maxime Clerge is a comedian, an artist, and a family man. I am a former student of ENARTS, I have a law degree from University of Haiti School of Law and Economics. I never get to work as a lawyer though.
TM- Is comedy something you always wanted to do
Comedy is not something that I ever really considered doing for a living. I did it just to see if I could do it. Twenty years later, I am still doing it. I guess that I can call it a job now since it pays my bills.
TM- How long have you been a comedian
I have been doing comedy my whole life, but I have worked as a professional comedian for over twenty years now.
TM- Who are the performers that have influenced you the most
My career was greatly influenced by comedians such as Papa Pierre, Languichate Debordus. Also by French comedians like Yves Lecoque and Roland Magdane.
TM- What other kind of work have you done and have these jobs helped to shape your current career
Besides working briefly in a law firm in Port au Prince, almost everything I do is related to comedy. I had a cultural column in the Nouveliste Journal. I also had a very Popular show on Telemax, “Pe Maximo and Madan Keloke.” Currently I work for radio caraibes on the Platform Rigolo Therapy and a regular guest in radio caraibes’ most popular show “Matin Caraibes,” where I play this character: Pere Kongo. Until today, no one knows that I am Pere Kongo.
TM- This character, Pere Kongo, has generated huge attention, praise, and curiosity with the fans of radio caraibes. To be honest with you Maximo, I really thought Pere Kongo was a white man. Tell me about this character, Pere Kongo.
Pere Kongo is this character that I play in Matin Caraibes. He is a Catholic Priest from Benin, Africa who came to Haiti on a mission for the church and he fell in love with the country. Pere Kongo loves all women, particularly the young light skinned ones, who visit his church. He always has something to tell them in private after the service.
TM- How did you come up with the idea of Pere Kongo
I developed this character right after my partner, Mme Keloke, left for Germany. Mme Keloke was one of the key character of the show. The show was about Pe Maximo and Mme Keloke doing things together. After the departure of Keloke, I had the reinvent myself and Pere Kongo was born. Allow me to tell my fans that Pe Maximo is not dead. He is still much alive, and we may have a show with Maximo and Kongo soon.
TM- Do you have to practice your different voice impressions or is it something that comes naturally
It comes naturally. It’s like a gift, but I do practice from time to time.
Do you always write your lines for each performance or do you improvise.
I usually write most of my lines and I also take times to prepare for my performances. Comedians do not always have time to write or prepare for every show. Sometimes they have to improvise. Most of today’s show, for example, was improvised. I do it often on stage, but I would rather have time to write my lines.
TM- What are your plans for this year, 2012
I plan to develop more the Character, Pere Kongo. I am currently working on two project, short films: La confession de soeur Marlene et La confession des hommes politiques (Sister Marlene’s confession and the Confession of the politicians)
TM-What do you expect from your fans
I expect them to continue to show me love, kindness, and support. I am forever grateful to them for allowing me to share my thoughts with them. Without them there would be no Pe Maximo and better yet, Pere Kongo would not have come into existence.