This encounter is forever inscribed in his pantheon of significant, indelible encounters. It was on June 30, 2005, when a light rain cooled the atmosphere announcing a summer heat wave (already?) that Gérald Massé, at the time a journalist at The Republican Echo, meets the magician of words. A year later, on June 15, 2006, Raymond Devos took off to make the angels laugh.
Here is his last interview, which is mentioned in the biography that Jacques Pessis devotes to the humorist (Raymond Devos, a biography (Look for noon), who would have turned 100 on November 9.
“When fiction mixes with reality through the absurd: the latest novel by Raymond Devos is like the sketches of the great comic, hilarious. Courteously, Raymond Devos apologized, because the last days of the heat wave tired. But the interview was maintained. Then in the bright office of his property in Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse (Yvelines) the naturalness of his thinking chased away the gallop of the years. For this juggler of the mind, the show goes on. Come what may. Here is Raymond Devos word to evil…”
Why did you choose the theme of identity for this novel?
I did not think about that. It is true that the story of a foundling lends itself to this. We
will never know who the father is. But this theme of identity strikes me. My name is Devos. I was born in such a place. I had a very special existence. But who am I?
Not necessarily the one we believe?
We are not what we think we are. I never knew who I was. When I don’t manifest myself, when I don’t take care of something, there are times when I don’t know if I have lived or not. Time passes and I remember very few things, only those that I thought were important.
What theme did you want to deal with in your book?
In fact, I didn’t think about identity because that’s all I think about! Perhaps this is
because my career is over, I ask myself questions. But I’m not
not deceived. I did this job as a public entertainer because it suited me perfectly well and I was fascinated by the comic phenomenon. Very young, my path was traced by this lit star. I’ve had some ups and downs, but I’ve always come back. That’s a vocation, even if in the schools where I am invited the students are fascinated by this profession of comedy without a single one wanting to do it.
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But was it a job?
Rather, it is a representation of others. Like an actor who goes from one
skin to another. Me, I didn’t come out of my skin. Well, let’s go back to the identity…
Why is humor important?
It allows you not to take life seriously. She is absurd. It’s absurdity
that characterizes the 20th century. There’s every reason to cling to a god or
Something. No question has real answers. There is something to be troubled about
for the end of his days. And I thought that laughter was indispensable as
only outlet. When we don’t understand the questions, we laugh. Laughter almost exists as an organ. But we are far from the book…
What motivated this novel?
The story took its strength and at the end, I came to the choice between the real and the imaginary. The publisher is forced to compose constantly to keep the one he is in love with and who is a fictional character.
What is the difference in writing between the novel and the sketch?
It’s not a question of length, but of density. A sketch is a
anecdote told in three minutes with a fall that must be strong while
summarizing the story. This is what makes the monologue difficult. And in public,
spectator reactions punctuate the text.
Isn’t it frustrating in writing not to hear the laughter?
In a novel, we do not know the reactions of the reader. We imagine them and we
keep on going. In a short story entitled “Le clown”*, Moravia tells the story of a café entertainer who suddenly realizes the ridiculousness of his situation and commits suicide.
Have you ever been on the edge of this abyss?
It’s funny, because I almost got to that! Me, I played the entertainer all my life
asking myself the questions: what will be distracting? What’s going to be ridiculous?
To see the strength of laughter, to see if I healed. I heard great things: “I was desperate and I came to see you and I regained a taste for life”. Laughter is made for that, so that people forget their worries, but they have to get into your madness.
*Roman NewsAlberto Moravia (GF Flammarion).
Interview by Gérald Massé
Raymond Devos, a biography (Cherche midi), First biography of Raymond Devos by Jacques Pessis. €17.90.
No title of nobility by Raymond Devos (Cherche midi) 186 pages, €12.
Thoughts, texts by Raymond Devos, preface by Michel Boujenah. €17.90. Raymond Devos House. 10 rue de Paris, in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse. Access to RER B terminus. Contact: Tel.01.30.47.76.71. email@example.com
Box of three DVDs (Universal) with his 100 greatest sketches. Presented in the form of a luxurious digipack, the 36-page booklet is illustrated with many rare photos.
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Tribute – Discover the last interview of Raymond Devos conducted in 2005 by a journalist from Dreux
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