Daniel Lemire sat comfortably on the front row of the Grand Théâtre tonight as friends and colleagues celebrated his 40-year career by embracing the characters who marked his years with humor.
Both in the stands and on the stage, the admiration for the man who made more than one generation laugh was palpable. The guest comedians took over the undercrowded Grand Théâtre by drawing almost exclusively on the sketches that have shaped Mr. Lemire’s career.
Several videos honoring the man behind Uncle Georges were broadcast on big screens throughout the evening, courtesy of Yvon Deschamps, Lise Dion, Claude Meunier and Francis Cabrel to name a few.
The star of the night struggled to find his words as the curtain fell as he took to the stage to say thank you.
“It was fun to see skits that I wrote but were acted out by talented people,” he said to laughter from the audience.
Mr. Lemire insisted on throwing flowers to his friend Denis Bouchard, who was behind the production of this show.
The one we celebrated tonight was emotional during his acceptance speech. Marcel Tremblay / QMI Agency
Pierre Verville was missed by viewers
Fans of the Grand Théâtre gave a warm welcome to comedian Pierre Verville, who took his first steps in comedy with Daniel Lemire. While the crowd was already won over, Verville added another layer by impersonating politicians like Quebec Mayor Bruno Marchand or Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Québécois.
The impersonator ended his number with a song in honor of his good friend, in which he embodied several legends of Quebec music, including Robert Charlebois and Serge Fiori. When he left the stage, everyone in the audience stood up to cheer him on.
Michel Courtemanche, honest and emotional
Before taking on the role of Ronnie, the musician with burned neurons, Michel Courtemanche paid a humorous and emotional tribute to his friend Daniel Lemire. Often close to tears, laughter or nostalgia, the veteran pocketed the crowd.
Courtemanche then brought in singer-musician Martin Deschamps to join him on drums while his imitation Ronnie played on guitar, much to the delight of the star of the night. Ronnie’s gags about Martin Deschamps’ handicaps made the fans and Deschamps laugh.
Michel Courtemanche who played Ronnie and Martin Deschamps. Marcel Tremblay / QMI Agency
Uncle George’s wife
Actress Sonia Vachon finished the dance with a female version of Uncle Georges; Aunt Georgette. Dressed in her best clown outfit and armed with the large yellow wooden chest we know from the character, her gags about Uncle Georges’ sexual performances drew laughter throughout the Grand Théâtre. There were several toys in the wooden chest, not just children’s toys.
Sonia Vachon, who played Aunt Georgette, pulled several surprises out of the big yellow wooden box Marcel Tremblay / Agence QMI
At the end of his number, all the guests went on stage with Uncle George hats on their heads to sing the children’s song Bonsoir les ti n’amis in the choir.
A convincing Edmond Ratté
Laurent Paquin put himself in Edmond Ratté’s shoes and pays tribute to Daniel Lemire. Although his number was too short, it triggered violent reactions from the audience. The ease with which he interpreted this character, a notorious social awkwardness, was a mistake, and Mr Lemire himself seemed as convinced as the crowd.
Yvon Travaillé, Professor Emeritus
Denis Bouchard in his role as Professor Yvon Travaillé. Marcel Tremblay / QMI Agency
Denis Bouchard excelled in his personification of Professor Yvon Travaillé. Laughter erupted as he addressed the crowd as if it were a problem class, and Daniel Lemire called out in passing as if he were one of his students.
Jean-François Mercier, a full Maurice
Fiery comedian Jean-François Mercier played Maurice, the character of Daniel Lemire trying to quit smoking. This bond suited him perfectly, both for the nature of the gags and the aggressive mood he displayed.
Yoghurt and its puns
Yannick De Martino played Yogourt, a young man who had a rough time with the clown Uncle Georges. The 34-year-old comedian never missed the mark with his act, which consisted mostly of puns.
Generation conflict with Marylène Gendron
At 26, comedian Marylène Gendron has unashamedly admitted that she comes from a different generation of comedians than the one we’re celebrating tonight. His respect and admiration for Daniel Lemire didn’t stop him from ranting about his age, causing the crowd, who averaged the same age as the veteran, to laugh.