5 French Comedians

Want to improve on your French in a fun way? Let us suggest watching some French comedy to both learn French while still having a good laugh. Now sit back, relax and discover 5 famous French Comedians:

1. Gad Elmaleh

Looking for a great comedian to start your evening? Once voted the funniest person in France, Gad Elmaleh has also been named knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Minister of Culture, as well as by the National Order of Quebec. Often called The Seinfeld of France, the Moroccan French comedian also studied political science, but eventually moved on to study drama under Isabelle Nanty.

One of his most successful shows was “L’autre c’est moi” (2005). In this show, Gad compares himself to “the blond man”; the perfect man who has no worries about overcoming the hazards of life. Gad hilariously describes this character in different situations such as skiing or at the bar. Released worldwide, the show boosted Gad’s popularity with over 300,000 spectators and 1,500,000 DVD copies sold.

Another successful show was his fifth one-man show titled “Papa est en haut”, which was an entry to the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal (2007). In this show, Gad reflects on his childhood, his relationship with his father and his bond with his son.  The show delighted the audience and got sold out seven consecutive weeks at the Olympia Theatre in Paris. 

More recently, Gad’s Netflix special “Gad Gone Wild” was released in 2017, in which the comedian entertains the audience with absurd situations he experienced as a “Frenchie” who moved to America. You must check it out! 

2. Florence Foresti

Gone are the days when only men dominated the comedy scene! One of the best examples of successful French female comedians is Florence Foresti.

Florence’s career began with a rough start, as she struggled to breakthrough as an artist. Along with her graphic design studies, Florence joined an all-women group of three called “Le nombril du monde” (The navel of the world), along with Cecile Giroud and Celine Lanucci. One night, the famous French comedian Anne Roumanoff noticed trio which helped officially launch Florence’s career.

Sometimes compared to the style of Muriel Rubin (listed #4 in this blog), her first one-woman show entitled “Manquerait plus qu’elle soit drôle” won the Jury prize at the Antibes festival in 2001. Motivated from this success, Florence worked on her next show “MotherFucker” between 2009 and 2011. In this show, Florence talks about her new role as a mother and tackles a big question: can one be a woman and a full-time mother at the same time? The show was crowned “best one-man show” at the Globes de Cristal 2010, and within one month and a half, its recording became the seventh best-selling DVD in France. Florence Foresti is today a reference for French comedy! 

3. Paul Mirabel

Sometimes, greatness doesn’t always come with age, right? This is true for Paul Mirabel, who, at age 25, is already among France’s best comedians.

In 2005, Paul was gifted a DVD of Gad Elmaleh (see comedian #1 of this article) from his parents. That DVD changed his life forever, as Paul was struck and inspired by Elmaleh’s job: making people laugh. After he finished his Master’s degree, Paul began doing stand-up at some small parisian venues. In 2018 he enrolled in the Florent course (a French theater school), and in the same year he received the Campus Comedy Tour award.

In 2019, he won the Grand Prize of the Paris Comedy Festival and became part of the Jamel Comedy Club. In the same year, Paul also focused on putting up his own show in The Little Lodge (the smallest theater in Paris).

What propelled his career, however, was his performance at the Montreux Comedy Festival, which was published on YouTube on February 12, 2020. The video attracted more than 11 million views in September 2020 and ranked Mirabel’s name to the top of French Stand-up Comedy lists.

4. Muriel Robin

If you have never heard of a stand-up comedian who also happens to be an excellent actress, then it is time for you to meet Muriel Robin! Winner of the prestigious International Emmy Award for Best Actress for her role in “The Poisoner”, Muriel has proved that her talent goes beyond making people laugh, as she can perfectly embody character. 

Her parents, Antoine Robin and Aimée Rimba were owners of shoe shops in France. Muriel used to work in the shop as a teenager until 1981, when she was able to join the theater company of Roger Louret, Les Baladins en Agenais. There she met Pierre Palmade (famous French actor and comedian, listed #5 in our blog), who helped her organize her first one-woman show “Les majorettes se cachent pour mourir” (1988). This show officially marked the beginning of her career and opened her up to many opportunities, such as her radio show “Tout Robin”.

Bonded with a strong friendship, Pierre Palmade and Muriel Robin also collaborated on writing and directing the play “Ils s’aiment”. The play presents the good and bad sides of Isabelle and Martin’s life as a couple, balancing love, resentment, drama and humour. The play received a Molière nomination for the Best One-Man-Show and Sketch Show. 

5. Pierre Palmade

Of course, Pierre Palmade is an undeniable reference for French comedy! Born in Bordeaux on March 23, 1968, Palmade is one of France’s most notable comedians and actors. He is also known for doing some dubbing in movies, especially for the comedy films “Pédale douce” and  “Pédale dure”.

But Pierre’s success became out of hand and the comedian went through a dark phase during which he found no inspiration for his upcoming shows. And with good reasons: alcohol, nightclubs and male love affairs prevented him from concentrating on his writing.

Pierre created a play called “Le Comique”, in which he addresses themes that are dear to his heart: age, fame, flight, humor, friendship, homosexuality and family in a raw and vulnerable style. The authenticity and darkness of his play won the audience over at the Fontaine Theater and lead him to create his own show “Go See Me”, which won him the Moliere Award in 1993.

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