Shock comic Mike Ward on the upside of a human rights lawsuit

A joke about a child with disabilities may cost Mike Ward up to $80,000, if the Quebec Human Rights tribunal rules against him.
Mike Ward appealed a decision by Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal ordering him to pay damages to Jérémy Gabriel. The case is now before Canada's top court. (Gilbert Fortier)

Bilingual comedian Mike Ward is a staunch defender of shock comedy — and he's willing to put his money where his wise-cracking mouth is. 

The comic is awaiting a decision from the Quebec Human Rights tribunal after poking fun at Jérémy Gabriel, a child singer with disabilities. If he loses, those jokes could cost him up to $80,000 in damages. 

Ward says he's already paid more than that in lawyer fees, but he'd rather pay to make his case than settle up with the now-teenaged Gabriel and his family. He also says there's been a surprising upside to the media coverage.

"I've gotten millions in exposure, and it's only cost me $93,000," says Ward, citing his legal fees thus far. 

In the lead up to August verdict, as well as Ward's second year hosting the notorious Just For Laughs Nasty Show, the comic joins guest host Stephen Quinn to discuss his ongoing commitment to dark humour and offensive comedy.

Ward explains why he goes deep into terrain other comics dare not enter, and why no topic — such as disability, racism, or homosexuality —  is too taboo for him. 

"I'm a good person who has really mean jokes, or I'm a mean person who has really good jokes," says Ward, who plans to fundraise for the next comic who faces a costly lawsuit.


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