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Comedians hold up a mirror to society

French comedian Anne Roumanoff, 51, tells about how she got started in comedy, the secret to her long success and why she always wears red on stage

Have you always wanted to be a comedian?
I clicked at the age of 12, when I heard Sylvie Joly on the radio. It made me want to do my own sketches. After that, I took theatre courses for six years, between the ages of 12 and 22. I started my comedy career in 1987 – this year is my 30th anniversary.
What inspires you?
Everything can inspire me, from politics to daily life. You have to have a point of view about things, nothing’s funny in itself. It’s the view you have on things that makes them funny. What looks easy on the surface often has a lot of work behind it. Comedy writing has to be precise – one word out of place and the laughter dies. It’s like being a Swiss watchmaker.
Of the many venues you have played, do you have a favourite?
I really like l’Olympia in Paris, the Sebastopol Theatre in Lille and La Bourse du Travail in Lyon – they are magical places, provided they are full!
You were in Nos Chers Voisins – would you like to do more TV?
Not for the moment.
I don’t have enough time between daily filming on Vivement Dimanche Prochain, my Europe 1 show, writing my column in the Journal du Dimanche... I have to choose. I’m working on writing a film screenplay but it’s a bit long.
Did you ever imagine your career would last this long?
I hoped it would, of course, and I have worked hard for it.
I have been lucky to have been surrounded by good people and also have a passion for this work. Without it, you can’t last very long. I keep trying to renew and surprise myself to surprise the public. I’m also very interested in what the talented new generation of comedians is doing.
Do you think comedy has a role to play in politics – especially at difficult times such as now?
It’s really pretentious to talk of a political ‘role’ – we are comedians, we hold up a mirror to society but we’re not responsible for what we see.
The role of a comedian, if there is one, is to help cope with reality. We are there to entertain and help people forget their troubles.
Is there one thing that makes you laugh in particular?
The contradictions of being human.
Why do you always wear red on stage?
It happened quite naturally. During my first TV appearance in 1987 on the show La Classe, I wore red and I’ve kept the colour ever since. In fact, when I want to go unnoticed, I wear black and nobody recognises me! I once met a woman who was interested in feng shui and she told me red gives me energy. I’ve never been a fanatic of the colour, it’s just my work clothes.
Anne is currently touring France with her latest one-woman show, ‘Aimons-nous les uns les autres…et plus encore’.

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