Who Is Laurent Lafitte? French Comedian Gets His Hannibal Buress Moment At Cannes

Laurent Lafitte is making headlines for doing something that no red carpet reporter has had the guts to do: Call out Woody Allen for the molestation allegations against him. Lafitte burned Allen with a rape joke at the 69th Cannes Film Festival opening ceremony, which was headlined by the famed director’s new movie Café Society. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Cannes master of ceremonies Laurent Lafitte didn’t waste any time during his opening remarks, calling out Allen just minutes after the 80-year-old filmmaker received a standing ovation from the crowd.

“You’ve shot so many of your films here in Europe and yet in the U.S., you haven’t even been convicted of rape.”

The Cannes audience reportedly let out a collective gasp after Lafitte cracked the bold joke.

Laurent Lafitte’s joke compared Allen to director Roman Polanski, who escaped U.S. rape charges after feeling to Europe. The jab against the filmmaker also came as Allen’s estranged son, Ronan Farrow, penned a scathing Hollywood Reporter piece about his father’s alleged molestation of his sister, Dylan, when she was a child. As a result, THR was banned from Cannes by Allen’s team.

In addition to Laurent Lafitte’s headline-making opening joke, the 42-year-old Paris-born comedian engaged in a 10-second kiss with 72-year-old actress Catherine Deneuve during the Cannes opening gala.

With his Cannes opener now making headlines, Laurent Lafitte is being compared to U.S. comedian Hannibal Buress, who famously called TV legend Bill Cosby a rapist during a 2014 stand-up comedy show in Philadelphia. Buress’ “rapist” joke ignited a media firestorm against Cosby years after rape charges against him were brushed under the rug by the media. Dozens of women have since come forward with allegations against Cosby.

Laurent Lafitte is a comedian, actor, and writer with an impressive stage resume under his belt. Lafitte even hosted France’s Tony Awards. In addition to his role as Cannes emcee, the 42-year-old French star actually appears in a Cannes Film Festival entry, Elle, a drama about rape. According to Uproxx, Laurent plays a character named Patrick in the French film about a businesswoman named Michèle (Isabelle Huppert) who is raped in her own home and sets out to identify her assailant.

In an interview with France 24 News, Lafitte said he looks at his hosting jobs as acting roles and his emcee persona as a character.

“It’s almost as if I had created my master of ceremony character and I just take him out of the wardrobe for different occasions,” Laurent said. “And this time, I’ll just try to write him some funny lines.”

While Laurent Lafitte has just made himself a household name in the U.S. with the Woody Allen joke, he may not want that to be the reason people know who he is. Buress, who had a major part in the hit Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy’s Home last year, doesn’t want to be defined by the Cosby joke, and he shut reporters down when they grilled him on the topic earlier this year, according to Entertainment Weekly. Buress said people “ran with the joke,” and it was never his intention to take down the TV legend or be a hero for his alleged victims.

Laurent Lafitte has not yet commented on the social media reaction to his joke, but it’s safe to say the French comedian-actor has just found himself some new fans.

Take a look at the video below for to see Laurent Lafitte talking about Cannes.

[Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]