Guy Bedos and Coluche, the most outstanding comedians of the 1970s and 80s.
Comedy for a cause
In France, a land of democracy and freedom of expression, political caricature has always had an unusually forceful tone. In the early days it was newspaper cartoons taking a swipe at those in power, then the cabarets of Paris put on stage singers and impressionists for whom the mores of political life were the favourite subject.
With the advent of television, political humour was often the spark that lit the fire. Thierry Le Luron (rather rightwing) and Guy Bedos (openly left) shared the time available to non-conformists in the 1970s. Then came the magnificent invention of puppets, making way for even more ferocious criticism by masking it with the goodnaturedness of soft toys and latex. After the very complacent (and aptly named) "Bébête Show" [bug show], "Les Guignols" (on Canal +) established itself as the most formidable force of opposition of the 1990s. Inspired by the British television show Spitting Image, but considerably more scathing than the original, the authors of Les Guignols were once described as the "best leader writers in France", then bluntly accused of having influenced several elections.
According to Guy Bedos "comedy is also a form of resistance". He started out by resisting his own situation - a Frenchman from Algeria, he came into conflict with his family when the war of independence broke out, by virulently denouncing colonialism. In his earliest appearances on the Paris stage in the mid 1960s, this permanent rebel stood out from the common run of comedians for his free speech and the often politicised basis of his sketches. Although the duo he formed with his wife, Sophie Daumier, until 1975, tended to depict the shortcomings of the relations between the sexes, in his stormy TV appearances Bedos never failed to raise his voice very loudly, an unhesitatingly leftwing voice which remained staunchly independent of the authorities. Moreover, starting in the 1980s, during François Mitterrand’s presidency, he transformed his shows into press Topicality of books in which, improvising instantly on the news, he cast an often enlightened and always pithy eye on political mores and social trends. The inspiration for Coluche and Pierre Desproges, a close friend with whom he shared a profound pessimism beneath his mask of public entertainer, Bedos has outlived both. He celebrates his seventieth birthday this year and has certainly not made his last cutting comment.