Le Gala des retraités : Just for…the pleasure of it!
On July 18, 2019, ten amateur comedians from Le Groupe Maurice residences gave a memorable performance at the Monument-National theatre before an audience of more than 500. The Gala des retraités, an event organized as part of the Juste pour seniors festival—a partnership between Le Groupe Maurice and the Just for Laughs Festival—was a resounding success again this year, thanks to comedy acts that had the audience roaring. Let’s look back at this evening full of laughter!
Everyone filing out of the 2019 Gala des retraités had smiles on their lips. Having both laughed and shed a few tears, the audience left completely satisfied with the emotion-filled event. It’s not every day that ten seniors take to the stage alone to perform stand up comedy, some for the first time in their lives.
“When I think of these ten people, I keep marvelling at what a feat they pulled off,” said Luc Maurice, president and founder of Le Groupe Maurice. “It takes such courage to get up on stage. Imagine doing it at age 70 or 80! That’s something! Quite frankly, this is much more than a comedy show for me, it’s a source of deep admiration and inspiration,” he added.
The courageous Le Groupe Maurice residents were coached by Patrick Tremblay, a comedy writing and creativity teacher at the École nationale de l’humour. After several classes and rehearsals, starting in April, these “comedians for an evening” were ready to tell their hilarious stories during an exclusive show.
“I’m thrilled! It was a great evening. I’m very proud of them,” said Patrick Tremblay. “I suspect that tonight, given the adrenaline, the pride they’re feeling and all the love they received from the audience, they’ll have trouble sleeping!”
Not expecting an event of this size, the residents’ joy and excitement were at their peak when they greeted the audience. Receiving an enthusiastic response and much laughter, they beamed with happiness and pride as they returned backstage. Scarcely believing what had just happened, the feeling of “mission accomplished” was palpable.
“My role, at the beginning, was to make them realize that there’s a big difference between making friends or family members laugh and making strangers laugh,” said Patrick Tremblay. “Most of them had never performed live in their lives! So it was a dual challenge. They had to not only work on their texts, but also their confidence. My role changed during the process. I wanted them to realize that they had an untapped well of strength inside.”
It’s on again next year! The 2020 Gala des retraités auditions will start in September and given this year’s success, the organizers are more than confident that the event will become increasingly popular.
“I think that this could be the start of something big. You mainly see up-and-coming or established comedians performing in comedy shows, rarely retirees. I saw a youthful sparkle in their eyes. It’s really wonderful. That’s what I do this for! They all have an extraordinary childlike side that should come to the fore more often. I really spent some good times with them. I got attached. I like them a lot,” said Patrick Tremblay.
“It’s the greatest adventure of my life.” – Christiane Potvin, amateur comedian, Le 22 resident.
“At 77 years of age, having a dream like this come true is incredible!” – Nicole Robert, amateur comedian, Les Résidences du Marché resident.
“It’s exhilarating! Making people laugh is such a pleasure.” – Jean-Guy Plante, amateur comedian, ELOGIA resident.
“I didn’t think they would laugh that much!” – Jacqueline Morin, amateur comedian, Les Résidences du Marché resident.
“I’m proud of myself!” – Madeleine Meloche, amateur comedian, L’Image d’Outremont resident.