behind the scenes of the “Rencontres du Papotin” with Jonathan Cohen

REPORTING – The show, launched by directors Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, is back for a second season. With an average of 3.4 million viewers, it is one of the successes of France 2

The ritual is immutable. In the large bright room on the top floor of the Arab World Institute where “The meetings of the Papotin”Arnaud quietly awaits the arrival of jonathan cohen to introduce themselves and start the conversation first.

A practice that he reproduces with any stranger he meets. When he sees us, he approaches and asks questions: ” We do not know each other. I am Arnaud and you? Can we talk to each other? Do you like tickling underfoot? Why are you wearing socks when it’s hot? » The tone is set. At Papotin, you can say anything but above all anything can happen. In this atypical newspaper, launched thirty-three years ago at Anthony’s day hospital, non-professional journalists with autism spectrum disorders write articles and interview personalities. Olivier Nakache And Eric Toledano had the idea of ​​highlighting these interviews in a program. The spontaneity of these interviewers, their great sensitivity and their vision of life make it a unique meeting followed by 3.4 million viewers on average since its launch in September 2022. Before Jonathan Cohen, eight personalities experienced this lovely meeting , from Josiane Balasko to Angela Ping by Thomas Pésquet Or Emmanuel Macron.

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Humor and tenderness

On this July day, the two directors of the film Untouchables (who directed Jonathan Cohen in A difficult year, in theaters October 18) are present. Forty chairs have been installed and six cameras are ready to film. As soon as he appears, the actor finds himself ailed by journalists. “Welcome to Papotin”, launches Claire, a regular. Arnaud asks if he can touch his beard and mustache. The actor allows it with a laugh. In the general brouhaha, journalists and educators settle down little by little. Some have helmets, others stay behind, some put themselves in the front row. Julien Bancilhon comes to interrupt this joyful set-up.

Jonathan Cohen after reading Hamlet with Stanislas. © Elise Llinares – FTV

The editor and psychologist launches the start of filming. “Jonathan Cohen, welcome. Our journalists are very happy to welcome you today to inaugurate the second season of Papotin meetings”, he begins. Since September 2022, this program has brought great visibility and a very good light to the work that we have been carrying out for years. Get ready, the questions will come. »

It’s not impossible that I’m boring, but wouldn’t we all be a bit? »

jonathan cohen

“How do you prepare for a role? », “Why did you think you were ugly when you were little when you are beautiful? », “What made you want to be a comedian? » : the questions follow one another. Jonathan Cohen does not cheat, responding with humor and tenderness. Even when a journalist asks him point-blank, causing the whole room to react: “Are you annoying? » The actor does not disemble and answers: “Oh, the question! It’s not impossible that I’m boring, but wouldn’t we all be a bit? »

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“Freshness of ideas”

Prior to the interview, the papotins prepared the interview with their educators but especially during an editorial conference held on Wednesday morning and during which the biography of the personality is mentioned. Some write texts, others prepare songs. Julien Bancilhon sends films or series to watch or takes editors to see plays. “The idea is to feed their imagination, their centers of interest so that it is then richer during the meeting”he specifies However, this work should not be pushed too far. “We saw that if we prepared too much, if the journalists asked a question during the editorial conference, for them, it was already done and they no longer asked it during the show. So we evoke themes without killing the freshness of the ideas », he continues. Ideas that can surprise the personality or move it. Jonathan Cohen cannot hide his emotion when he talks about his mother or when singer journalists take up the title The meaning of family originally performed by Grand Corps Malade and Leila Bekhti, a close friend of Jonathan Cohen. The exchange is strong.

Read also“I was a little angry with myself”: Thomas Pesquet talks about his private life in “Les Rencontres du Papotin”


In addition to an interesting moment of sharing, the journalists of Papotin find, through this program, a form of recognition. “They see that their word is taken seriously, their questions, however specific they may be and their sometimes atypical centers of interest are viewed by the outside and those around them as something precious”, notes Julien Bancilhon. Jonathan Cohen also took great interest in his interlocutors. At the end of the three hours of filming, he comes out turned upside down, as he confides to Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano: “During the song, I almost stayed there! Some dried me on the spot. I went through a lot of emotions. » He is not the only one…

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