I was born on August 15th, 1893, in Châlons-sur-Marne under my real name, André Isaac. My father was a butcher and my mother, a housewife. I was quite a good student and I liked to play a lot of jokes which I’m said to have had quite a talent for.
In 1913, at the age of 20, I was drafted into the 160th Infantry Regiment and injured my left arm with my own rifle during an exercise on 23 June 1914. This was 5 weeks before the war began. This meant that I had to spend several periods in hospital, the last of which ended on November 4th, 1918, one week before the Armistice. I then made a living by working odd jobs and became a song writer for cabarets in Paris where I would make fun of silly situations in everyday life.
On May 13th, 1938, I created the satirical newspaper “L’Os à Moelle” presented as “the official journal for the zany”. Up to May 31st, 1940, when the Germans entered Paris, I was publishing four broadsheet pages every Friday, with a circulation of 400,000 copies. An absolute record in the history of the pre-war press!
I also became familiar with the airwaves. My many sketches were broadcast on Radio-cité and Poste Parisien. I then joined, not without difficulty, de Gaulle and the BBC in 1943. I was one of the “French who speak to the French”. The zany humour of my puns was aimed at opposing the Vichy government, the collaborators and the Nazi regime. Every night for nine months, my editorials and songs were heard.