I met the most controversial character of the Hexagon last week: Dieudonné in “Sandrine”.
It had been a long time since I had last called a visit on him. The guy seemed alright even if it makes no doubt that the different experiences he had to go through, besides the time that has passed have made of him an old and quieter man, though still and always provocative in his own manners. I missed his show last year and did not want to miss the new one; not that watching Dieudonné on stage, via a DVD, is unpleasant; but it morally affects me to know that the most hilarious French comedian has been boycotted in the Hexagon for more than five years now. A physical presence at the show means revenue for Professor Dieudonné; because this is the name by which he should be known, given the fact that there is no one matching him in his art in the Hexagon. At seven thirty on Friday evening I got to join an old mate of mine at Metro Bastille station. This appointment is just another of the many meetings Mickael and I have been organizing for more than a decade now. It is also another opportunity to comment, discuss and meditate on the society we live in, in 2009. No doubt, Dieudonné’s show “Sandrine” at the Main d’Or theatre is once more going to help us in constructing sound and accurate analysis. There are lots of rumors on Dieudonné and his possible links with the French National Party. This explains the many boycotts the comedian is facing today. Just like Tariq Ramadan a decade ago the French principles of freedom of speech seem to have their limits when it comes to people criticizing the untouchable French establishment or certain communities.
I am late again, and Mickael is on time as usual. Standing in the queue I give a quick look at the people queuing in front of us and behind us. They look like a new middle class mob; all in their thirties or so. The crowd is mainly composed of French “gaulois” and French of northern African backgrounds. There are very few French citizens of black African descents. There is a long queue and therefore the awaiting in front of the theatre gate doors seems to take ages. Once in the theatre with our tickets in the pockets another waiting with a more commercial purpose this time is getting into everybody’s nerves. Refreshments are sold; just a well calculated way for the audience to leave more than the 35 Euros already left at the entrance. Some twenty minutes later the crowd is at last directed into the room where the show is to take place. It will not start until the room is fully packed. The early comers get the best sits as usual.
As it has become the custom, Dieudonné starts his show by asking everyone in the room to turn off their mobile phones. The recommendation is given by a German voice in a tone reminding the old movies relating the rise of the Nazis in Europe in 1939; just another way for Mr. Dieudonnée to mock those boycotting him and describing him as the new face of French racism by excellence. Making fun of oneself is one of Dieudonné’s best specialties. But, a
clear reading of his show makes no doubt that he is a hundred percent -if not more- against any form of religion. Being a Muslim myself, I then question my presence at his show this evening. Pondering on the question for a while I come to a certain understanding of what brings so many people just like me to come and listen to what the French Professor of humor has to tell us regarding the society we live in. Every ethnic group is represented and mocked at. A bitter mockery and criticism is of course reserved for the French comics and comedians somehow accepted by the establishment as the norms and references in such art. From the hilarious gas used by Anne Roumanoff in her one man shows to the Gad Elmaleh laughing technique which consists in laughing first to make people laugh at the jokes, all the flaws and poor qualities of the art are thus inscribed by the Professor. The description he gives of the society we live in is so clear and accurate that his show appears as a real sociological laboratory of observation.
Watch the video of his old show: Le Dieudo-nez au