Merchant of happiness
Archival Photo Chantal Poirier
Saturday, 15 July 2017 06:00
Saturday, 15 July 2017 06:00
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In 35 years of the festival, Gilbert Rozon has welcomed the biggest names of the humour here and elsewhere about the scenes of the metropolis. It has seen the birth of many careers and lived moments ” that are passed to the history.” On the occasion of this anniversary, the great manitou of Just for laughs opened up his box of memories to The Journal.
“It happened so many things. When I start talking about it, I can not stop more ! “advises Gilbert Rozon in the preamble.
“We’ve had historic moments. Moments that people will remember all their lives and will be able to say : “I was there” “, he adds proudly.
Installed in his vast office on the boulevard Saint-Laurent, Gilbert Rozon recalls the triumphs of comedians such as Michel Courtemanche, and Yvon Deschamps. He personally asked Jim Carrey to occur in Montreal, well before he became the international star that we know today.
The birth of Mr. Bean
He remembers also to have received the invitation of the British Rowan Atkinson before he became Mr. Bean.
“It was not known at the time, but it was numbers really exceptional. He asked me to go eat with him in London, insisting to do the festival Just for laughs in French, ” he recalls.
Gilbert Rozon has accepted. And, in the summer of 1987, Rowan Atkinson presented a number of five minutes (” a triumph, ” says Gilbert Rozon), who would become the starting point of the famous character of Mr. Bean.
It is also within the framework of Just for laughs that André-Philippe Gagnon has presented for the first time, his number We Are the World by taking in turn the voice of the 18 performers original.
“It was supposed to do that night. But he ended up doing it every night of the festival. And when that was [done] cross on the English side, Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld refused to go after him so he was safe. Then André-Philippe Gagnon has ended their galas, ” says Gilbert Rozon.
A well insured
Gilbert Rozon seems convinced that the scenes of the festival will continue to provide memorable moments in the years to come, courtesy of the “new generation very impressive” stand-up comedians.
“There is a great openness to ethnic communities. It’s good to hear otherwise. The beauty of cultures, the clash between them. It is scientific : the friction brings the energy “, he recalls.
“The beauty of Quebec, it is to be positioned at the junction of the British with their absurd humor, the French with their concern and words of Americans with their effectiveness. We find all this spectrum of expression, from the vulgar to the highly refined, in our quebec humorists “, he adds.
“Never big enough “
That now Just for laughs, breath 35 candles, Gilbert Rozon can begin to think about the following editions. Difficult for him to think ” more than three years in advance “, but one thing is clear in his mind : that the festival could easily double in the years to come.
“In 35 years, has been multiplied by 40 or 50 of our size. But it is never big enough for me. Ideas, I have a head full ; this is tree, ” says Gilbert Rozon.
“I am constantly being asked how I can give happiness to people. There are plenty of ways to do it. And me, my quest is to find even more, ” he concludes.
► The Just for laughs Festival runs until July 30.