"The ridiculousness of this era is obvious": Francis Veber signs his great return to the theater with "The whirlwind"

The king of comedy Francis Veber returns from September 22, 2022 to the Théâtre de la Madeleine with The whirlwinda new piece.

Francis Veber, one of the masters of French comedy in film and theater (The Troublemaker, The goat, The dinner of fools) is back with a new piece, The whirlwindwhich begins this Thursday at the Théâtre de la Madeleine in Paris.

In this piece carried by Philippe Lellouche and Stéphane Metzger, he tells how a depressed journalist will be helped in his recovery by his best friend, a brutal cop. A piece in reaction to the contemporary era.

“This is the second time in my career that this has happened to me”, explains Francis Veber to BFMTV.

“The first time was in Closet. Daniel Auteuil pretended to be a homosexual so as not to be fired from a condom factory. But everything else I’ve been able to do, be it The dinner of fools Where The toyit’s not so rooted in the times.”

The screenwriter, known for his clumsy and endearing anti-heroes, wants to make fun of a society he considers “ridiculous”: “We live in a time when we must not touch tragedies. There are many of them, but the ridiculousness of this time is obvious, with the ultras on the left or on the right saying extraordinary nonsense. This is the perfect time to dip your pen in the inkwell. The comedy comes by itself.

“I took advantage of what is happening at the moment, with the Animalist Party proposing to replace the word ‘rat’ with ‘surmulot’ or Sandrine Rousseau who says that it is a sign of virilism to put meat on a barbecue”, adds Francis Veber.

The director thus protests against “this kind of insane whirlwind” where “one guy says, ‘The police kill’, and another answers him, ‘The police don’t kill enough’. It’s a period of contradiction.”

No time for retirement

The whirlwind was indeed imagined by Francis Veber for the theatre. It is in no way a scenario refused by the cinema. His history with the boards goes back a long way. He started at the theater in 1968, with the play Pick up. But “disgusted by what was happening on stage”, he preferred to devote himself to the 7th Art “for 24 years”.

“And that, I can’t regret.”

At 85, when he no longer has anything to prove, he has returned to the theater in recent years, after the flop of his remake of The Troublemaker in 2008. He signed two unpublished pieces, Dear Treasure and A pet. Two successes that led him to abandon the cinema. He was also tired of funding problems and working conditions.

“We only give you six weeks to make a TV movie.”

Of all the great comedy directors of the last forty years – Étienne Chatiliez, Jean-Marie Poiré, Claude Zidi – Francis Veber is the only one to still be so productive.

“My genetics are better!”, he laughs.

The weight of age and success has not eroded his sharp humor. No time for retirement: “It doesn’t exist in creation! I don’t see myself playing petanque or planting tomatoes.”

A canceled film with Kev Adams

Two years ago, Francis Veber almost made a new film for Prime Video, The clown, starring Kev Adams. But the project, which he presents as “a” meditation on theater and creation “, did not succeed. He wanted to tell the story of a comedian who finds himself playing in a play on the Holocaust.

“I resigned myself to not doing it. Everyone was scared,” regrets the director.

“I’m even going further: I’m not sure that today a theater would accept La Cage aux Folles if it was brought by a young author. Because of the LGBT movement, we would say to him that we can not joke with that, “he adds again. “We would have passed by fear next to a masterpiece. It’s one of the few things I’m jealous of.”

“Writing is rewriting”

It is this whirlwind that he makes fun of in his new play. Tourbillon which, according to him, prevents many comedies from being effective: “The most difficult thing in writing is the construction. This is what many comedies lack today. There is a lack of work. To write, it’s rewriting. A good line can take 3 weeks. It’s this martyrdom that all comedies currently lack.”

For him, the martyrdom continues. Francis Veber intends to transpose The whirlwind At the movie theater. In the meantime, a remake of one of his classics, The toy, released in October. Jamel Debbouze succeeds Pierre Richard. Francis Veber liked the result: “He has an advantage. My film was cold. [Dans le nouveau]there is a human warmth and it is a tremendous contribution.”

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