People don’t laugh because something is funny: it’s funny because they laugh.”
*Luc Bourdon and Matthieu Bouchard - Yvon Deschamps
Two talents unite for Yvon Deschamps. Luc Bourdon is a Quebec video art pioneer. Inspired by history, culture and memory, he directed the 2008 NFB production The Memories of Angels, a remarkable archival mosaic of Montreal. Editor Matthieu Bouchard lends his craft to fiction films, videos, Web capsules, shorts and more. Together they offer a vibrant tribute to Quebec’s greatest humorist.
2011 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)
Yvon Deschamps is one of Quebec’s greatest and most influential humorists. Best known for his satirical monologues, he held up a mirror to Quebec society during the Quiet Revolution and beyond. His subversive yet thoughtful monologues have tackled such diverse topics as money, happiness, racism, the media, Catholicism, mythology, feminism, mental illness, and isolation. His writing is fresh, hilarious, political and provocative, and his sharply original humour launched a new tradition of francophone comedy that continues to this day.
Born in 1935 in Montreal, Mr. Deschamps left school after Grade 11 and worked as a messenger at Radio-Canada, where he discovered his passion for the performing arts. He studied acting with François Rozet and Paul Buissonneau, and in 1959 joined La Roulotte, a travelling children’s theatre. In 1964, with Paul Buissonneau, Claude Léveillée and Jean‑Louis Millette, he co-founded Montreal’s Théâtre de Quat’Sous.
In 1968, with Robert Charlebois and Louise Forestier, he produced L’Osstidcho, an irreverent musical revue that revolutionized Quebec’s entertainment scene. It featured Mr. Deschamps’ first monologue, Les unions, qu'ossa donne? (“Unions: What are they good for?”). “It literally changed my life,” he says. “Two days earlier I wasn’t even thinking of doing comedy, and since then that’s all I have done!”
Following this huge success, his career skyrocketed with a series of engagements in prestigious Montreal venues, notably Place des Arts, where he performed more than 500 times during his career. In the 1980s he moved to television as host (1985–89) of the weekly Radio-Canada variety show Samedi de rire.
Mr. Deschamps made a special appearance at the 2009 Just for Laughs Festival and officially retired in 2010. Actively engaged in his community, he has supported numerous social causes, including OXFAM Quebec, Le Chaînon women’s shelter, the Fondation Yvon Deschamps for people with physical and mental disabilities, and currently the Fondation du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal and the Association sportive et communautaire du Centre-Sud.
Awards and honours include La Presse Arts Personality of the Year (1994), Knight of the National Order of Quebec (2001), and Grand Montréalais (2010). In 2005 his name was added to the French dictionary Larousse.