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Today’s guest, Abderrahim Tounsi

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Abderraouf, the legacy

Whoever talks about comedy in Morocco evokes Abderraouf, the character name of Abderrahim Tounsi. Tribute.

This tuesday, the Festival pays a career tribute to Abderrahim Tounsi, whose humour and wit made generations of Moroccans laugh. The Festival has scheduled two of the latest films in which he played: Majid (2010), to be screened in Jamaa El Fna square, and Mon Oncle (2016) in the out-of-competition category.
By paying a tribute to this veteran comedian, the Festival puts the spotlight on the long career of Abderrahim Tounsi, the precursor of the one-man show in Morocco. The works of the Casablanca native, a self-made prolific artist, have served as a source of inspiration for the next generation of Moroccan comedians. For instance, Jamel Debbouze says “Abderraouf is the godfather of all today’s comics”. Echoing him, renowned Moroccan artist Hassan El Fad describes him as “the forerunner of individual humour.” For his part, Gad El Maleh considers Tounsi as the “master of all comics.”

Tounsi's interest in becoming an actor grew in adversity when he was imprisoned by the French colonial authorities. Abderrahim Tounsi created the ridiculous character of Abderraouf in the 1960s. The burlesque and simpleton character earned him fame as he made a breakthrough in TV and theatre alike. “It is the costume that made Abderraouf. I was playing around with different costumes then I found one that especially inspired me, the character of an idiot. I mimicked a voice that I thought suited the character” he explained. Tounsi then formed a theatre troupe and embarked on artistic tours across the kingdom performing sold out shows and spreading joy and humour wherever he went to the delight of the Moroccan audience. Although he disappeared from the screen from the late 1990s to 2005, Abderraouf came back to his audience, playing in TV and cinema movies.