I usually like French imports. Despite issues I have with the government, I consume their wines, watch their movies, visit the country, eat the food, wear the clothes, etc. But one import I can do without is this French comedian, Dieudonne, who will be performing at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival (minutes away from casa ck!). France’s open season on Jews has made its way into his act which has included dressing up as a goose stepping, Nazi saluting Chassid. You can read more about him and the Festival’s poopooing of Jewish Community concerns at the Montreal Hillel Web site. Ha Ha Happy Bastille Day!
UPDATE – Dieudonne and the Management of the Just For Laughs Festival defend themselves – I’m just doing my job as a comic reports the Montreal Gazette…
UPDATE 2: Want to know how the show went? Click here!
French comedian denies his show is anti-Semitic: Performs saturday at comedy fest. Dieudonne says he’s an equal-opportunity gadfly of orthodoxy and sectarianism
A controversial French comic said yesterday he’s misunderstood by Jewish interest groups who accuse him of anti-Semitism and want his act censored.
Defending himself as “a humanist and universalist” who doesn’t believe in ethnic or religious distinctions, Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala told reporters he’s no racist.
“I’m a comic,” the 38-year-old performer said at a news conference to plug his one-man show, Mes excuses, at the Just for Laughs Festival.
“I know my style can shock, but that’s my right – the right to blaspheme,” said Dieudonne, as he’s known.
“My job is to make people laugh, yes, about sensitive subjects … and sometimes that can touch sentiments in the community that have been exacerbated by difficult times.
“But I’m just doing my job as a comic.”
In a letter to festival organizers last week, B’Nai Brith Canada asked they make sure nothing objectionable is left in Dieudonne’s routine when he takes the stage Saturday night. The organizers responded that, on the contrary, his airing of ethnic and religious antagonisms is a good, thought-provoking thing.
Yesterday, Quebec representatives of the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’Nai Brith mingled with journalists and said they’ll be in the audience Saturday, watching to see Dieudonne doesn’t cross the line between comedy and anti-Semitism.
It’s an accusation the half-Cameroonian, half-Breton comic – whose “biological metissage” he considers the source of his irreverence – has faced in France, where he’s had to defend himself in court against charges of racial defamation.
He’s won all but one of 17 cases brought against him. In May a lower court in Avignon fined him $8,500 for controversial statements he made in the French daily Le Monde about Jewish ownership of news media; Dieudonne is appealing that decision.
Most controversial was a live performance Dieudonne gave in December on France 3 TV. Posing as an Orthodox Jewish settler in Israel, the comic referred to the “American-Zionist axis of good,” raised his arm in the Nazi salute and shouted “Isra-Heil!” Yesterday he called the gag “burlesque,” not anti-Israeli.
In another sketch after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, he mocked Muslim extremists who promise suicide bombers sex with virgins in the afterlife. He has also castigated Roman Catholics.
Promoting his show Pardon Judas at the 2001 Juste pour rire festival, he told the alternative weekly Voir: “The church is a multinational that doesn’t represent Jesus Christ.” He added: “Jesus was a revolutionary of the extreme left who unfortunately inspired a church of the extreme right.”
Yesterday, accompanied by festival founder Gilbert Rozon, Dieudonne – whose name means “God-given” in French – seemed perplexed by all the fuss over his appearance here. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding,” he said.
His current show – about the media controversy over his humour – was written this year and already performed to enthusiastic reviews in Paris and Brussels.
Fielding a barrage of questions for 45 minutes, the goateed comic portrayed himself as an equal-opportunity gadfly of orthodoxy and sectarianism – including that of Jews.
“What do the Jewish people have that’s so particular?” he asked rhetorically. “They belong to humanity.”
About B’Nai Brith, Dieudonne said the group just claims to speak for Jews, when in fact no organization can stand for all members of a community.
“I don’t believe they represent the Jews of Quebec,” he said. “Because there are lots of Quebec Jews who have come and told me ‘Bravo! We can’t wait to come to your show!’ ”
Dieudonne, in Mes excuses, today, Tuesday and July 24 at 9:30 p.m. at the Theatre du Nouveau Monde, 84 Ste. Catherine St. W. Tickets are $36.50. Call (514) 845-2322.