Eric Judor: “Our job is to give people funny punches”

The Tower 2 infernal control is broadcast this evening on France 4. We had met Eric Judor for the release of the film.

June 24, 2020 update: 15 years later The infernal Montparnasse Tower, Eric and Ramzy were delivering the sequel to their cult comedy in 2016, Infernal Control Tower 2. On the occasion of its broadcast this Wednesday on France 4 (at 9 p.m.), we are recommending the interview that Eric Judor had given us when the film was released.

With Tower 2 infernal control, it seems that your hidden ambition is to bring together two audiences: that of the first film, which also adored you in H, And the one of Plane tree, which is probably a little more pointed …
You are a little right, but you stress me to death. I wonder if such a mixture can really work in theaters! (To laugh.) I wrote the script with Nicolas Orzeckowski, the co-author of Plane tree, with the same level of requirement as for the series. However, the characters in the film are much less complex than the antiheroes of Plane tree : they are very first degree morons, capable of saying things like “poop is delicious”. It’s true that this kind of gags embedded in the surrealist writing that we are targeting with Nicolas, produces something schizophrenic. I hope the mixture works, because it’s a hell of a bet. Anyway, I couldn’t just copy The infernal Montparnasse Tower. I had to add strong herbs, curry, West Indian pepper …

Our review of The Tower 2 infernal control

In short, the fact of having conquered a demanding public encouraged you to approach this sequel with more arty intentions?
Ah no, it’s not that calculated. You know, when we work on Plane tree, we are convinced that we are writing a mainstream series with unstoppable gags, funny and accessible to everyone. And then we realize that we are missing the plate: a fringe of the public followed us, but it is not at all the one that was seen en masse The infernal Montparnasse Tower. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for TV or for Tower 2, at the time of writing I don’t say to myself, “This scene is for The Cinema Notebooks, and this one for those nostalgic for H. It would be the worst mistake!

Why could certain scenes not be aimed at this or that audience?
Because I don’t like the idea of ​​reserving certain gags to those who can understand them. I am not an elitist. I was disgusted by the failure of Plane tree. I said to myself, “But it’s not possible, it’s great what I did! Yes, because I’m not humble, you have to know that. Finally, it depends. After planting myself, I lose so much self-confidence that I allow myself to be humiliated by everyone. But OK, The Cinema Notebooks supported Plane tree and I was the first one surprised when they offered to cover the magazine for the second season. It was great for my ego. I hung on to that because the audience didn’t really follow.

Maybe you and Ramzy already had an identity Cinema notebooks from the start, without being aware of it …
They had already supported us at the time of the first Tower. And then, as our humor has always been unclassifiable, we sometimes had good, rather sharp papers, long before Plane tree. We were invited to conferences in Beaubourg, precisely, because we were hovering in this abstract, light, weightless form of humor. Social satire never interested us.

Clowns turned schizo

In fact, you occupied the burlesque niche of Jacques Tati, when the French comedians had deserted the field.
There was still Jean Dujardin, even if he has taken another direction in recent years. I think that if we managed to reach a sharp audience, it is also because we try more and more to make people laugh who are themselves very funny. For example, in Tower 2, we gave the role of the villain to Philippe Katerine : to attract it, you had to live up to its bizarre charisma. We wrote the role before casting it, but we added some ubiquitous scenes to adapt to his sweet madness, like the one where he does not get anything what his Flemish acolyte tells him. We wanted to brew other kinds of humor, because after Only Two, we realized that seeing us evolve in a vacuum could have a “lousy” side. The film was above all a formal trip, we aimed at a very graphic staging, but which took on a slightly autistic dimension. We then wanted to take the opposite view by letting several types of comics interact in Tower 2.


Eric & Ramzy dynamite Première: see the video

The humorous maelstrom also creates an overheating effect which can anxious the public, even make them mad …
Ah damn, at that point? I know what you mean, but it’s okay when you film a guy like Katerine. In life, it can make you strangely uncomfortable, despite its sweetness. I think he writes his songs the same way, working with his anguish. He’s kind of a more cheerful Stromae, he dilutes his dark ideas in pop tones. When I hang out with him, I keep my distance, otherwise I’m afraid! (To laugh.) But he’s someone I admire. And then it fits perfectly into the project of Tower 2 : surprise the public, destabilize it.

The infernal Montparnasse Tower involuntarily reached this level of madness. This time, you’re deliberately looking for him as the film’s author. Don’t you risk losing spontaneity?
It is true that we were more innocent at the time. With Ramzy we were content to make the clowns low on the forehead. Today, clowns have become schizos. But the mastery acquired does not prevent us from making an absurd film, on the contrary. The fact of having gone to directing does not prevent me from going on a lollipop when I play with Ramzy. Luc Besson dissuaded me from directing Halal state police for this reason, he said that my game would lose spontaneity. Whereas I kind of feel like it freed me. I no longer have the teacher’s gaze on me, I can make the stupid in peace.

This kamikaze way of confusing the public comes, no doubt, from your American influences: Larry David and Ricky Gervais, whom you often quote, but also the absurd duo Tim & Eric …
You know Tim & Eric! It’s true, but they’re really crazy. Their sketches turn out to be gore, they go much further than us. With Ramzy, we put a toe in the nonsense while they, they dive while making the jump of the angel! You say the film looks like their delusions? So people will lose all of their bearings. Here, I stress again, you screwed up my afternoon! (To laugh.) How many people know Tim & Eric in France? Six? In the United States, there must be about twenty-four …

They are more and more popular, besides Eric Wareheim toured with you in Wrong Cops by Quentin Dupieux. Tower 2 can be reminiscent of their movie, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.
I missed it at Sundance in 2012, we were also there with Quentin for Wrong. These guys are aimed at laughter professionals, we still hope to please as many people as possible. Afterwards, when you put too much spice in your food, there are spectators who ask for more and others who run to the toilet. We are aware of this, but we are still trying to take people as far as possible into the absurd. No way to be lukewarm. At some point in humor, you have to take sides. Otherwise, you might as well compete to be in the favorite personalities of the French.

Cleansed from our sins

It seems that your meeting with Dupieux marks the moment in your career when you firmly take this bias.
Quentin was the one who revealed myself to me. Before knowing it, we took this job over the leg. Then he showed us Nonfilm, one of the most absurd things I’ve seen. It made us laugh so much that we understood the meaning of our job: to give people funny punches. Even if it leaves them on the side of the road. I knew that Steak wouldn’t make my mom laugh, but too bad it broke my stomach.

So there is a before and after Steak, your first film with Quentin Dupieux?
Yes, and this is even more true for the public. We had just linked three films with two million admissions: Tower, Double Zero, The Dalton. And there boom, we go out Steak which makes 300,000 entries. In a way, we took a 90 ° turn in the car. The rear passengers were ejected from the vehicle, except for a clampin who clung on screaming, “But what the hell are I doing in this car, you guys are going too fast! Where are you taking me? But this turn has absolved us from our sins. We were mistaken in going to promote films that we did not assume. The Dalton, for example. We wanted to entrust it to Michel Hazanavicius and make it a dirty western. And then the project escaped us, we were not proud of the result and it made us unhappy. Steak and Only Two allowed us to clean up all the poo we had on us.

Do you feel like you betrayed the passengers who fell from the car?
No, we were the ones who betrayed us. We would have been much more unjust by continuing to load Knorr soup on TV sets, pretending to be gourmet soup. By taking this direction, we hope to have made them discover a new way of having fun. Too many comedians are content to rehash the same formula as if the audience were stupid, when they could instead pull people up. This is what we are trying to do by going to get Philippe Katerine for Tower 2 : a great new gloubi-boulga, made up of everything that makes us laugh. Some crippled spectators will forever blame us for making them squirt from the car. But I’m hopeful that others will come back, with a helmet and crutches, telling us: “Ok guys, your turn was a bit dry, but the ride looked cool, we’re going to hang on and retry the experience. “(To laugh.)

Tower 2 infernal control ofEric Judor with Eric Judor, Ramzy Bedia, Philippe Katerine, Marina Times, tomorrow in theaters.

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