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...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, January 15, 2007

Jamel Comedy Club

Maybe you think that the phrase, French stand-up, sounds impossibly like one of those World Shortest Book titles, like...

Famous English Lovers

(You know it's true!)


Andy Warhol's Mohammed Silkscreens

(Oh hush)


The Prolific Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush

(A nod to my liberal readership. All one of him)

But I assure you, French stand-up is alive and well, even though there is only one true, long-running, if just recently started comedy club in all of L'Hexagone:

Jamel Comedy Club

The creator behind the idea -- now on French television -- the French Russell Simmons if you will, is Jamel Debbouze, a Frenchman of Moroccan ancestry.

If you think he's making out like an one-armed bandit monetarily, it's because he is.

He lost his arm as a kid on a train track, and he's become a multimillionaire due to his club. Boom tish!

Don't worry, he'd be the first one to laugh at my feeble joke, because he has a SENSE OF HUMOUR. And anyway, the French are all about laughing, and the yucks, as we know. Look at Dunkirk.

Wasn't it that monstre sacré, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who said, "Take my chains, please!"?

Now, I've recently mentioned in my Borat analysis post, how I think that we British are possibly the worst enabled to mimic American stand-up.

Our wit is not based on their rat-ta-ta-tat diction, and cruel one-liners, but slowly processed and solitarily digested quips which keep on giving, the more you think about them.

Hardly the stuff of a 15-minute skit about vaginas monologues and how Ray-Ray stole his new 22"s.

And though the French do much better with their lightning quick patter, in terms of stand-up timing, they still resemble kids let out from school telling their mates the latest joke about la Madame juive with le gros cul on the 3rd floor.

Check out the (rare, white) French dude making with the political jokes, at Chirac's expense.

He kills me!

French comedy used to mean something very incisive, something very deep, something almost beyond the intellectual (when the intellect meets ideals, in the case of Molière, Montaigne, and Zola), which transcends the moment, despite the universality of its message. It is the ultimate merger of style AND substance.

The French language is primed for such reveries, precisely because it's malleable, yet strict; welcoming, yet frosty.

It has structure, and grace in abundance, yet lets you play with it, like a lover.

And I hate to tell my French friends this, but when you start copying Americans, you lose.

It's true of French cinema and its ridiculous Galliwood efforts like Vidocq (the French revolution murder mystery western!), and it's true of French stand-up.

"Are you ready! Are you REGGAE! Que longtemps! Faire le maximum de bruit pour Dédo!"

Oh boy.

I don't exactly know when this comedy fails, but it's missing something. A certain -- come on, you think I would type that?


I think the word I am searching for is, the undefineable, exquisite, and very French "esprit" -- so what happened?

They copied. That's what happened.


  • Those pants... The horror.

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Jan 15, 10:25:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Whose pants? What horror?

    That was definitely educational, Victoria: confirmed that, despite having studied French for four long years, I barely understand a word of it.

    By Blogger Internet Ronin, at Wed Jan 17, 06:29:00 pm GMT-5  

  • C'est la nouvelle France . Some of the jokes by the white guy was pretty funny. The material is not new though. Like the one about the 6 year old asian kid more efficient that 2 hour wait for computer hotline. happy new year!

    By Anonymous SHUSSBAR, at Thu Jan 18, 04:53:00 pm GMT-5  

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