Sunday, February 29, 2004

Hi there, Clowns

Despite how things may appear, there are, in fact, three of us working on this blog. It's just that I've been busy. Sorry to have so been derelict in my duties, folks.

Here's an update on the Dieudonné matter. At W's request, I'm posting a translation of an open letter to Dieudonné that appeared in Libération last Monday. It's written by Elie Semoun who was once Dieudo's sidekick. (Oh... and he's Jewish.)

Letter to Dieudonné, caught up in controversy
Hi there, clown

By Elie SEMOUN
Monday 23 February 2004


Hi there, clown, it's the Jew "converted to show-biz" writing to you... I'm just writing to say that I like you a lot and it hurts to see you like this. Not because you're a so-called victim, censored by a lobby of slave-owning ancestors, because you've got no more work, no more audience and no more money (that, I can't believe). But because you are no longer the one I used to know and with whom I laughed more than I ever had with anyone else.

Back then, I didn't even know you were bi-racial and I'd forgotten that I was Jewish. And that's of no more importance than if I were Belgian or Breton.

You and me, we didn't give a damn for the whole world, least of all ourselves. People loved that. Among the anti-racists, we were the best. I continue to carry the torch for our humor, even if sometimes I play the nightingale for the young ladies!

This world still scares me as much as it used to and we both dislike the same things. We both laugh at the same idiots. My characters are often yours and vice-versa. I think humor is the best way to talk about what's real in life.

But that's why I feel like I've been betrayed. You're not the same Dieudo. You've had funnier days... you seem to want to remake "Cohen et Bokassa" but you've either forgotten the script or the second character.

I can see you jumping around like a bad minstrel in a two-penny circus, applauded by people who are out of view, lit only by the foot lamps. I see some pretty dodgy guys... some have yarmulkes or keffiyehs. I see one who brought his daughter. He's got one eye and he's rubbing his hands together.

I don't want to get involved in the politics. You're worse at that than I am but talent doesn't excuse everything and some little words start a fire that nobody — except for a few mad men, but not you, I hope — would want to see go out.

I hope that I'll see you again doing what you know how to do best.

I'm writing from the island of Réunion, an exemplary land of miscegenation. That's why it's called Réunion, anyhow, and they all seem to get on well. Makes you wonder, right?

Alright, man. Take care.

ELIE SEMOUN is a comedian.

Note that, though Dieudonné was banned from the Olympia theater, Amazon is offering a DVD of Elie Semoun's performances there. What Semoun told Le Parisien was far less conciliatory than what he's written above. Semoun apparently said:
Before he turned into a fraud, [Dieudonné] made me laugh. When we were a duo, we laughed about everything, the Jews, the blacks the Arabs, but we did it with finesse and smarts. To-day, he's reaping the consequences of his attitude. [...] I don't know if he's aware of what he's provoking but I do know that if today, some people can be unabashedly anti-Semitic, he's contributing to that. Dieudonné exists only through provocation! Right now, he's drawing the whole world into it: he's talking about a plot against him, playing the martyr, but I guarantee you that in fact he is very happy. This whole business has put his name in the papers and serves his own interests.