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Coluche 1.jpg
Born Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci
(1944-10-28)28 October 1944
Died 19 June 1986(1986-06-19) (aged 41)
Opio, Alpes-Maritimes
Cause of death Motorcycle crash
Nationality French
Occupation Actor, Humorist

Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci (28 October 1944 – 19 June 1986), better known as Coluche (French pronunciation: ​[kɔˈlyʃ]), was a French comedian and actor who was famous for his irreverent sense of humour.

Colucci adopted "Coluche" as a stage name at age 26, when he began his entertainment career. He became known for his irreverent attitude towards politics and the establishment, and he incorporated this into much of his material. He was one of the first major comedians to regularly use profanities as a source of humor on French television.

Youth and comic debut[edit]

Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci was born on 28 October 1944, weeks after the liberation of Paris, in a hospital in the 14th arrondissement of the city. His mother, Simone Bouyer (called "Nonette"), worked as a florist in the Boulevard Montparnasse. His father, Honorio Colucci, from Casalvieri in Lazio, Italy,[1] was a painter and decorator. His father died in 1947 at age 31 from poliomyelitis; his wife struggled thereafter to raise the young Michel and his sister (Danièle, 18 months older than Michel) on a meager salary.

Coluche showed little promise at school, and left after completing his primary studies (June 1958). He tried various temporary jobs, and had several run-ins with authorities. During this time his mother bought him a guitar, which he taught himself to play. In 1964 he joined the 60th Infantry Regiment de Lons-le-Saunier, but was imprisoned for insubordination. On his return to civilian life, he worked in his mother's florist shop which she had been able to open on rue d'Aligre, and later in a larger shop which she opened near la Gare de Lyon. He found this work dull, and suddenly quit, which caused a long-lasting breach with his mother.

At the end of the 1960s he tried his luck as a singer in cafes, then turned to comedy.


In 1969, with Romain Bouteille he was present at the start of the Café de la Gare, meeting place of a group of young comedians practically all of whom were to become famous: Patrick Dewaere, Henri Guybet, Miou-Miou, Martin Lamotte, etc. Among the patrons of the Café de la Gare were Georges Moustaki, Raymond Devos, Jean Ferrat, Jacques Brel, Leni Escudero, Pierre Perret and Jean Yanne. Later they were joined by Gérard Lanvin, Renaud, Rufus, Diane Kurys, Coline Serreau, Anémone, Gérard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte, Josiane Balasko and Gérard Jugnot.

Coluche's first sketch C'est l'histoire d'un mec (It's the story of a guy) was about the difficulties of telling a funny story. He quickly found success, but alcohol problems forced him to leave the group.

He went on to found another group, Le vrai chic parisien (The truly chic Parisian) and it was at this time that he met his future wife, Véronique Kantor. They married in 1975 and had two sons, Marius and Romain Colucci. His behaviour and addictions forced him to leave the new group and launch his solo career.

Solo career[edit]

It was at this point that he began to dress in his well-known outfit of white tennis shoes, blue striped overalls, a bright yellow T-shirt and round glasses. He was sacked by two radio stations for vulgarity.

The 1980s[edit]

Presidential bid[edit]

In a 30 October 1980 press conference at the theatre of his one-man show, Coluche announced his candidacy for the French presidential election. He was not taken seriously until the Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche published a poll on 14 December 1980 showing Coluche supported by 16% of potential voters.[2] His "campaign" was supported and organized by Parisian publisher Charlie Hebdo, with slogans such as "Before me, France was divided in two; now it will be folded into fourths", and "Coluche - the only candidate who has no reason to lie". However, he withdrew after pressure from serious politicians.


In 1984 Coluche was awarded the César Award for Best Actor for his role in the film Tchao Pantin (1983) directed by Claude Berri, a film that mirrored his chaotic personal life.

Restaurants du Cœur[edit]

In September 1985, he launched the "Restaurants du Cœur" (usually called Restos du cœur) charity (40,000 volunteers in almost 2,500 eating establishments, which serve some 600,000 daily beneficiaries) in a speech on the radio station Europe 1. This famous speech begins "I have a little idea…" The charity collects food, money and clothes for the needy and the homeless. Each year, a fundraising concert series is presented by singers and celebrities collectively known Les Enfoirés ("the bastards").

In September Coluche also set a world speed record (252.087 km/hr) on a one-km track with a 750cc motorcycle.


Less than a year later, at 16:35 on 19 June 1986, Coluche died when his motorcycle crashed into a truck on a bend in a road in the commune of Opio, Alpes-Maritimes in southeastern France. He was 41. This event provoked national grief and inspired the album Putain de camion ("fucking truck") by his close friend Renaud. Some conspiracy theories have since surfaced, mainly in the book Coluche, l'accident: contre-enquête,[3] alleging that Coluche might have been murdered.[4][5]


"Place Coluche" in Paris

Coluche won the César Award for "Best Actor" for his role in Tchao pantin (So Long, Stooge, 1983), one of his few dramatic roles.


The film Coluche : l'histoire d'un mec, directed by Antoine de Caunes and relating the events surrounding Coluche's bid for the French presidency in 1981 was released in France in October 2008. François-Xavier Demaison plays Coluche.


Coming from a working-class family and a background of grinding poverty, Coluche fought for the equality of citizens. A law known as the Loi Coluche was passed in 1988, allowing large tax deductions (up to 75% in some cases) for individuals or businesses that donate to specified aid agencies.

An asteroid, (170906) Coluche is named after Coluche.

A rose is named for Coluche – it is on display in the rose garden of Tabor Park, Rennes.

There are statues of Coluche in his home quarter of Montrouge, and in Le Vigan, Gard in the south of France. Numerous theatres and social spaces are called after him all over France.

In October 2016, the Hôtel de ville de Paris (5, rue de Lobau) opened an exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of his death. It focuses on his radio and movie career up to his announcement of his presidential candidacy. It runs sthrough 7 January 2017.[6]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Director
1973 Themroc the male neighbour Claude Faraldo
L'An 01 the chief Jacques Doillon
Alain Resnais
Jean Rouch
1976 L'aile ou la cuisse Gérard Duchemin Claude Zidi
1977 Drôles de zèbres the chef Guy Lux
1980 Inspector Blunder Michel Clément Claude Zidi
1981 Le Maître d'école Gérard Barbier Claude Berri
1982 Deux heures moins le quart avant Jésus-Christ Ben-Hur Marcel Jean Yanne
1983 Banzaï Michel Bernardin Claude Zidi
My Best Friend's Girl Micky Bertrand Blier
So Long, Stooge Lambert Claude Berri
1984 Good King Dagobert King Dagobert Dino Risi
La vengeance du serpent à plumes Loulou Dupin Gérard Oury
1985 Sac de noeuds Coyotte Josiane Balasko
Madman at War Oscar Pilli Dino Risi


External links[edit]