August 1, 2021

the novel of an eternal comic


As every year around June 19 – the day of his death, in 1986, in a motorcycle accident – Coluche returns to the small screens in one or more documentaries. A recurring tribute that turns into a creative challenge for the directors, and a questioning expectation for the viewers. Will they see a political Coluche “clown enemy of the State” (2011), a demythified Coluche (Le Bouffon become king, 2016), a depressive Coluche “fallen into drug jails” (2008), or the benefactor of Restos du cœur?

While society is struggling to find a smile again, worn out by the health crisis, Coluche, a great time chooses to return to the positive and joyful effects of the artist’s career, in a long, dense, funny and nostalgic film, on France 3.

Also read (archive from 2011): Coluche, our story of a guy

Fifteen years of a structured life “Like a novel”, observes Philippe Labro, whose words resonate with the titles of the chapters of the film: “The story of a clown”, or how Michel Colucci created his character; “The history of the café-theater”, from his arrival in the Café de la Gare troupe of Romain Bouteille (died on May 31), on the arm of his girlfriend Sylvette Herry (Miou-Miou), until his departure to create another café-theater, Au truly chic parisien-Théâtre vulgaire.

It’s “a friend’s story”

Friends of happy days testify, Gérard Jugnot in the lead, who provides the commentary in voice-over. Actor Gérard Lanvin is in the best position to evoke the life of the four winds of the Parisian house of Coluche, rue Gazan (in the 14e borough). Richard Gotainer, who started out in advertising – for Saupiquet, Danette… -, certainly inspired The New Omo and other consumer skits.

But it’s The story of a guy, broadcast one evening of the 1974 presidential election, which will reveal the beast of the stage, deciphered in “The story of a showman” and boosted by producer Paul Lederman. Follow “The story of a friend”, “… of a provocateur”, “… of an actor” and “… of an agitator”.

Read also The hidden face of Coluche

The staging interweaves memories and archives of the INA by theme, to demonstrate how the entire life of the comedian appears in his texts. The anecdotes about the former thug of Montrouge thus fit perfectly with the sketch The thug. That of Thierry Lhermitte affirming that Coluche gained weight voluntarily in his beginnings, persuaded that “The little big ones” are more fun, is confirmed by Louis de Funès, at the time of the release of Wing or thigh (1976), where Coluche precisely plays a small fat man with glasses who wants to become a clown …

No must-have is forgotten, from Schmilblick (and his famous « papi Mougeot ») at Tchao Pantin, which earned him a César for best actor for a role against the job; of his presidential candidacy to the false marriage with Thierry Le Luron … All punctuated by moments of anthology, as during the filming of You will not have Alsace and Lorraine. Yet another documentary, of course, but one that does so much good.

Coluche, a great time, by Matthieu Jaubert (Fr., 2021, 135 min). To come up : Coluche, a disturbing death, June 17 on RMC Story.