Thomas Guisgand, the new presenter of Rap Jeu

Known for his humor and quirky tone, Thomas Guisgand was the face of Booska-P’s RPG for several years. Fan rap From an early age he knew how to combine his passion for music with his personality to carve out a suit that suits him perfectly. “Funny, rigorous and in bad faith”, as he describes himself, the 28-year-old has all the qualities to adapt quickly to a program like rap game. The opportunity to return with him in his debut as a new animator: preparing him before the first shoots, working with the Red Bull team and the cast he dreamed of.

How did you come to do animation?

The animation happened a bit by chance when I went back to Booska-P. Basically I had to write but my arrival corresponded exactly to the moment when the site completely turned upside down putting unknown heads. They were looking for new formats incorporated to give it a twist and one day they asked me if I would like to make a video, I said “yes, definitely”. I wanted to see what it was like to be on camera. I said yes to what they offered me but, really, I didn’t have any medium or long-term plans. It was still pretty ideal because I like the humorous side. In fact, I just wanted to show that we can treat something serious by being a little more eccentric in form, but that we can still see that I don’t take it as a joke and that it is a culture that I respect, that listens, I know that too. This opportunity allowed me to combine these two sides.

How do you learn to be an animator?

Oh frankly, we don’t learn it, it’s just doing. At first it’s a bit hard, we don’t find the tone, we’re under pressure, we fail, we find ourselves useless, we don’t like looking at each other… then little by little, once the tone is set for each concept, you end up being comfortable.

Did you have any animator models?

I certainly have influences but it’s more comedy, comedians, more than real animators, things from youtubers not necessarily very well known. But otherwise, I saw so many things, I know Jamel’s programs by heart. I don’t think there is Jamel in what I do, maybe in small details, but I don’t really realize that. Unfortunately there is Franck Dubosc, Thomas Ngijol… What makes me laugh is taking it to the thousandth. Afterwards I took a lot of the head to try to have my own tone, although I know that it is always influenced. I said to myself: “it has to be my thing, it has to be a little unique, it doesn’t seem like something already known”. Obviously, when you do it, everyone tells you that it looks like this or that. But I try as much as possible to separate myself from what I perceive as influences.

Thomas Guisgand, the new presenter of Rap Jeu

© Apolline Cornuet

Did you imagine presenting Rap Jeu one day?

Not at all ! In fact, it is something that I would have liked to do and even before it came out, in the newsroom we were making games. No one invented the game, it’s universal, we don’t have a monopoly on the game, but we did it at lunch time, general culture quizzes on ringtone rapping. And one day, we saw Rap Jeu come out and we said to ourselves: “actually, it’s a really good idea, it’s so good! “. I was already a faithful viewer of the program but I really did not think that one day they would call me, I was very surprised. It was Mehdi himself who called me.

Did you directly say yes or did you think about it?

I have thought. I knew I had to go through Hamad’s approval anyway because I have an exclusive contract with Booska-P. So when I make a media appearance or whatever, I have to ask permission in quotes. Honestly, I thought that he would tell me no and also at first he told me: “really for me it was no, I really had the impression that they had stolen my boy”. And then, he thought to himself, we made an appointment and he told me: “If I don’t let you do this in real life, I know it frustrates you. You are young, you also have to have other experiences and the format suits you like crazy. So we will make sure that you can do it during your stay in Booska-P”.

How did you prepare for this role?

I just prepared myself, I said to myself, “I’m not pushing myself, I’m doing it.” If it doesn’t work after a season, it’s over, that’s all. I’d quit if people couldn’t take it. When the announcement came out, at first I didn’t want to pay much attention to the comments because I knew very well what I would find there. And finally, when they have mentioned you all night, you end up looking: there was everything, as expected. There are those who say: “we are not going to look because there is no Mehdi”. There are those who say: “OK, it’s sad that Mehdi is gone but the replacement can be good.” And there are those who say: “he is too good”. It was very divided.

For some, the fact that you replaced Mehdi seemed very logical.

It is true that it is a very specific niche and we are not much into it. And I was happy to see these reactions because I thought I only identified with Booska-P’s audience and realized it’s a little bit broader than that. And seeing people saying that it could be good and that there weren’t so many more people than me, that made me super happy, yes!

Have you had any indication from Red Bull?

They simply told me: “it has to be different, being the same” (laughs). In the sense that they obviously wanted to keep the gameplay for those who like the show and I also agreed because I didn’t want to distort the gameplay at all and it was already complicated enough to get behind Mehdi. And in the tone, on the other hand, they said: “you can go there on the valves”. In fact, they were expecting an even more eccentric tone and that suited me very well, it’s the same use as my RPG character, in the same spirit. They basically said, “You bring the personality that we see from you in RPG to Rap Jeu”.

Do you participate in writing?

Yes. I had been offered to do it only as the host who discovers their files or participate in the writing. So I chose to write with them, there are four of us. There are the historical authorsYérim and Ngiraan, and there is Adrien Ménielle, a guy who worked for the Golden Show, who is very strong in terms of creativity in new games.

How is the writing of a quartet going?

We have meetings, we take a whole day where we’re on lockdown, and then we develop. Although the games are preset, we did a whole session at the beginning to find new ones. We found them there and it’s not going to budge, unless we have crazy ideas by then. There’s the PDRG and the Flimbiz, to test guest referrals. And then in terms of writing, Ngiraan makes a lot of progress because there is a way to do it with all the methodology that he developed with Yérim throughout the episodes, so he goes very fast. We divide the work, for example, in a game like this, we have to find purist questions, we look for somewhat complicated questions.

Authors Ngiraan Fall and Yérim Sar talk to Thomas Guisgand on the set of Rap Jeu.

Ngiraan, Thomas and Yérim on the set of Rap Jeu

© Apolline Cornuet

How was the first shoot?

We made a pilot that came out very well and that gave me confidence, I felt comfortable. There were rappers Kanoe and Lyms, and together with his manager Oussama Ali Gabir and the journalist Raphaël Da Cruz. The guests were super fit and really gave it their all, it was great. I had a bit of pressure for the actual shoot, but once it was over it was fine, I was expecting worse. There is pressure when you are sure, you don’t realize how you are doing, it is later that you can judge saying “I should have been a little more like this or like that”. But it’s technical what Mehdi was doing, they told me that he recorded two or three shows in one day. Me, when we throw two in the day, I’m already KO in the second. There are a lot of people behind the camera, the technical team and the whole environment of the rappers, the direction… So, frankly, it’s a real exercise, it’s physical, you have the adrenaline that falls afterwards.

What would you have improved afterwards?

You always say to yourself, “oh, I could have sent that valve, I could have been more in the moment”, because you are so into the game, Ngiraan is talking to you on the headset at the same time, you think of giving the instructions well of the game, you have the guys talking to each other that you have to fit in… So you actually think about a lot of things, you have a lot of information, and you always redo the game a little late. But for the first time I was happy with myself, I managed to release the floodgates outside of what was planned, I thought I was going to be a bit paralyzed facing all that. It’s something I do in my everyday life, so I was wondering if I could transpose it into a set, but it was fine. And that’s mainly because the guests were great. I have the impression that the guests do three quarters of the work.

Did you know the guests of the first episode?

I did not know anything about Nasdas and Samos, influencers. I think they brought them in because they’re all about the little ones and, on the other hand, they want to keep part of Mehdi’s audience with Heuss L’Enfoiré and Soolking.

Precisely, beyond the entertainment, there is a real knowledge of rap in the program.

Yes, that is clear. It would be necessary to review a bit, I have the impression of not worrying enough. I also saw many comments that said: “but how is Roland Gamos going to do, he does not have the culture of Mehdi”. So obviously no, I don’t have his culture at all, but it’s not something that worries me. I have my little culture, my own things and I have the support of Ngiraan. But he makes me want to cultivate more so I don’t fall behind.

Host Thomas Guisgand and guests on the set of the first episode of Rap Jeu.

Thomas and guests on the set of the first episode of Rap Jeu

© Apolline Cornuet

What is your star episode of Rap Jeu?

I like the one you have CHS. There was DA Uzi, a very good client that I would like to have again, by the way, and Hamad and guilty. In the first seasons there were more producers or journalists, and I really liked that aspect.

Do you have a dream cast that would make you happy?

Bah SCH already, that’s for sure! Because I know it has a real culture, not just southern rap, a beast of culture, so it’s already interesting from that point of view, and because I’m an absolute fan. So SCH, who would go well with…? That’s a good question…I wish I had. Plenty because I love what he does and I know he also has a great culture, the American one in particular. So I would put SCH/Infinit’ and on the other hand I would put… Hamza for his laugh, he can be extraordinary. We got a list of all the artists we’ve had, the artists we’re going to have, artists who said no and I saw that she didn’t say no… We need a room, it’s hard… Aya Nakamura because she’s so funny, super fun. I’ve seen it two or three times for interviews, concepts, and it’s really super fun, I think it would add something. So Aya Nakamura/Hamza against SCH/Infinit’, it doesn’t make sense (laughs).

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