Biography: the freedom to choose by Clémence DesRochers

Biography: The Freedom to Choose by Clémence DesRochers


Actress, humorist, author, Clémence DesRochers is an avant-garde artist with an exceptional background acquired during her 60-year career. An actress on television and in the theatre, she has also made music and written poetry. In her biography which has just been published, we discover a fiery and free woman, but above all a woman inhabited by the stage and the comedy shows she gave which gave her an unalterable youth.

When we see the incredible career of Clémence DesRochers, from her debut on the stage of La Roulotte by Paul Buissonneau, this mobile theater that criss-crosses the parks of the metropolis, until to the many distinctions received, we can only salute this great lady who has taken up many challenges. 

“I myself am surprised at the progress made”, she admits from the outset. 

It was author and journalist Mario Girard who took the initiative to write a biography by first knocking on his door. The main interested party opened hers to him and quickly a beautiful complicity settled between them. 

“He became a friend”, confides Clémence DesRochers, visibly proud of her illustrated biography rich in anecdotes and in confidence.

Now 89, she recounts everything: from her childhood in Sherbrooke, where she grew up with an unfaithful father in love, to her moments of glory, through more difficult times. 

Nevertheless, it was his father and poet, Alfred DesRochers, who transmitted to him the love of writing, poetry and books. “Without him, I wouldn't have done this job,” she insists.

Among the more difficult times, we think in particular of La Boite à Clémence, which opened with one of Yvon Deschamps' restaurants. Unfortunately, she had to go bankrupt and lost all her stakes in 1968. “It was after Expo 67 and there were no more tourists, it was a difficult time,” she remarks.


But Clémence had seen others, especially since she left the family nest at 17. 

After a brief stint in teaching, she will enter the conservatory of dramatic arts to make his way there. Some will remember having seen her on television in La famille Plouffe or in Grujot et Délicat.

A woman among the men

In her book, she is said to be a pioneer, and that is the truth. At the time, we did not use the term comedian, it was even before the famous monologues of Yvon Deschamps. And women who were humorous, there were practically none. 

Even if Clémence made people laugh for decades on stage by writing her own shows, she did not never defined as a comedian. 

“I told funny stories on stage, but music was also a big part of it,” she says. 

In addition, she often worked as a team. 

There were the cabaret years in 1957 with Jacques Normand, when she made her debut at Cabaret Saint-Germain-des-Prés. “Jacques was a mentor for me,” says Clémence DesRochers. 

At the end of the 1950s there were the Bozos, then in the 1960s, the song boxes and musical reviews at the Patriote . We particularly remember the show Les Girls, with, among others, Louise Latraverse and Diane Dufresne.

It was towards the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s that we discovered her great talent, when she was alone on stage with, in particular, Crazier than ever.

Breaking taboos

One thing is certain, Clémence has always been well surrounded throughout her career and her personal life. On this level, she proudly recalls her relationship with Louise Collette, accomplice in life and also her manager. “We have been together for over 50 years,” she recalls. She propelled my career.”

Besides, without being fully aware of it, she advanced the cause of lesbian women. For her, it was simply a free choice. She even wrote a song about the love between two women, titled Two Old Women.

She also tackled other female taboos around menopause with her shows, I show, then, Back after menopause. “I have always been free to make my choices, without listening to others,” she says.

Her greatest pride is all these years connected to the stage. But they are also his poems. Moreover, several of them are found in his biography. Texts written by his hand, in pen. 

Clémence is aware of the weight of her age. She would like to go back on stage knowing well that it would be difficult. It is for this reason that her last shows were given with Marie Michèle Desrosiers. 

“We had a great bond and I didn't have to carry everything on my shoulders,” she concludes. . 

Author Mario Girard also signed the books Les Belles-Sœurs, the work that changed everything, the biography of Renée Claude, Give me time, and < em>He already saw himself! Aznavour and Quebec. 

  • Clémence DesRochers has received numerous awards and distinctions.  
  • In 2004 she won the Prix Jutra for best actress in a secondary role for the film La Grande Séduction
  • In 2009, she received the Governor General's Award for the performing arts, and in 2015, the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec.
  • She also received the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Québec in 2001 and is an Officer of the Order of Canada since 2010.