He is not hiding behind his cat

No, not Cat. More like a camel. No offense. An important personal memory, that’s all. Meeting Geluck 26 years apart means seeing him back on the Place de l’Hotel-de-Ville stage in Spa, even if his famous tongue-in-cheek persona the fat cat is still and forever. it makes him rich, feeds his fame, makes him happy and opens the doors of the museum world to him as far as New York. A camel next to him. “Oh yes! The famous camel! He did not forget his participation in Stella’s party.

Deux t, trois l, Belgian band Sttellla and his master punster Jean-Luc Fonck. Geluk fascinates him today as it did yesterday. “Jean-Luc [Fonck] the pun is genius, it’s incredibly entertaining, it should be recognized all over the world, at least as much as Cat! »

In the summer of 1996, it was part of the new Francofolies de Spa. Tribute to Belgian electronic alternative pop duo Sttellla, Jean-Luc and Mimi Fonck. “A magical and crazy moment,” Filip Geluk recalls with a laugh. Jean-Luc’s mother was also there. Which asked me to participate on the same day without training. We read Helen loved Ale. Something as funny as all. »

Extract? Let’s not deprive ourselves. Loud please. “Only Alain loved Hélène / Hélène loved Alain very much / She loved Higuelin very much / She loved hygiene very much”. That tone.

Smiling man

“I don’t remember that Camel studied with us, but I remember that he was accredited. Yes, with a picture of a camel on the badge to identify it properly. “Ah, but we know how to have fun, us Belgians, it’s the same,” Geluck commented with a sob. The route of the little book that brought him to Montreal in November, where he joined Hubert Reeves, Nancy Huston, Angélique Kidjo and a few others, is the volume of the collection “Je chemine avec…”. funny anecdotes. Philippe Geluck loves to smile and smiles a lot. It’s even the first thing he does in the morning. “Especially when I’m back home, on days when I’m a bit up my ass, I force myself to smile. I see myself in the mirror, stop for a moment and say to myself, this guy! Such a handsome boy! And I smile. »

I have happiness without much effort. I’m a good car. I turn the knob and it starts.

Later ? “I’m making myself some coffee. And then she is stronger than me, I say nonsense that makes my wife laugh. » Without cats and camels. He alone, with a natural, good Philippe smile. “I have happiness without much effort. I’m a good car. I turn the knob and it starts. He is happy when he smokes. He is happiest on TV when he makes the audience laugh. Stupidly disagrees. He is really good about himself. “In the book, how I passed the theater, children’s plays, Lollipop, d gamesymbolic, all this, I enjoyed making the kids burst out laughing, I never wanted it to end. This applied to all my interlocutors. Making me laugh makes me happy. It is an unusual pleasure. »

Character and creativity are at the fore

Unlike Frankin, who is never too comfortable in front of the camera, and unlike Hergé, who cares about his offspring (“I’m told he went to the bookstores to make sure all the Tintins were there”), Geluck is simply adaptable to all situations.

“I have this phenomenal chance to be alone in my studio and invent my stuff, keep only the good ones and publish them. That would be enough, but I accidentally make people laugh. I must have a funny face. I am capable of impudence, certain bites [le Chat arbore parfois un sourire carnassier], but I laugh with him, I don’t laugh at this. When people see me, they understand that I am very kind. »

If he is not too pretentious, as we go from chapter to chapter, we realize that he is not too ashamed of himself for his Cat. Success does not destroy it. His years passed Can’t wait for Sunday, Michelle Drucker’s hit variety show, allowed her to tell adults what she thought of them. “I was there to read my letter to each guest. We celebrated on Thursday afternoon. That same day, I started my letter at 9 o’clock in the morning and wrote pages to the Emperor of Iran, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Monica Bellucci, Formula 1 champion Schumacher and hundreds more. I just started, that’s all. As I discovered, I went there, then poum poum poum, it happened. Ready to read. It was magical. »

Museums for fun

Likewise, his Cat entered the museum world, exhibiting at the Musée en Herbe in Paris, as well as at the Musée Soulages in Rodez. Large bronze statues of his big cat are placed on the Champs Elysées. “On the basis of one of them, I wrote: ‘This is the first time a car has been run over by a cat.’ It is the same spirit as in two dimensions. »

The day before our meeting, he was in New York to investigate the possibility of moving the statues to Central Park. “No one is waiting for me there, that’s what I care about. Can a cat make you laugh without its previous reputation? I do not know. Like all creators, I am in constant doubt. But I like this ambiguity. Will my next jam be funny? »

And Philippe Geluck recalled his meeting with the Belgian consul in New York the day before. Yes, the countrymen caused… Tintin. Geluk told the famous anecdote of a young reader who complained to Hergé that Captain Haddock in the movies did not have the same voice as in the albums… “I happened to experience something similar. One day I come across a kid doing my shopping, standing in front of me, petrified. I ask him what is wrong. He said to me: “I didn’t know you were in colors too.” He had a black and white TV, kid! »

After New York, Bronze Cats may end up at Festival Square in Montreal. It’s in the air. “For me, anything is always possible as long as I have fun. And sometimes, the more you dare, the bigger it is, the more you get a big laugh that makes you feel good. He smiled his kindest smile saying. “I made the customs officer laugh today. It’s a good day. Brave Geluk: It could have been a camel.

I’m walking with…Philippe Geluck

Interview with Sophie Lhuillier, Edition du Seuil, Paris, 2022, 189 pages

To see in the video

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