Every comedian dreams of his show hitting record audience numbers year in and year out but Frenchman Olivier Giraud has made the dream a reality – four nights a week for almost a decade. His hit one-man show entirely in English How to be Parisian in one hour still draws the crowds even after eight consecutive years. In his hour-long show, Giraud reveals the reasons behind the famed stereotype of the arrogant Parisian, turning it into a comedy riot. We catch up with the Bordeaux-born comedian who talks to us about his Parisian beginnings and how lucky he feels to be living his dream.
What is your show How to be Parisian in one hour about?
So it’s basically an hour of me up on stage, playing on the stereotype that Parisians are hostile, moody, rude and unhelpful. I talk about different situations visitors to the city might find themselves in like at a restaurant or in a shop and the impossible service – by making fun of the stereotype, the real reasons behind this attitude emerge but while making people laugh. It’s become a bit like giving advice and tips about how to better interact with Parisians (laughs). I even get emails thanking me for explaining the Parisian culture!
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Your show is a riot. Was it always your aim to perform a one-man show about Parisians?
I actually studied hotel management but I always knew that I wanted to be a comedian – when I was eight years old I was already making up mini shows, trying to make people around me laugh. But my parents were always opposed to me becoming a comedian, telling me that “it’s not a real job, stop dreaming.” It was while I was studying in the U.S. and my friends would ask me to talk about the cultural differences between France and America that the idea for my show really started to take shape. I realised that Parisians in particular and Americans are completely different, if not the complete opposite.
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So you came back to France and started approaching theatres with your idea for the show?
When I was 28 or 29, I came back to France and decided I had to try my luck. At first, every theatre I went to see told me “What? You want to do a show mocking Parisians and you want to do the whole thing in English? It will never work, forget it.” But I kept on trying until one day a small theatre in Bastille let me have a go. It was complicated though – no one believed in the show. And it just went from strength to strength!
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What’s next? Will your show be continuing for another year?
Well, the show’s continuing into 2019 so we have no other plans for the moment. We’re all just really happy to be carrying on and hope it goes on for as long as possible!
Read more about Oliver Giraud on his website.
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