So you saw “How to Become Parisian in One Hour,” but what else is out there for English-language comedy? Luckily, nightlife in Paris includes a blossoming English-language stand-up comedy scene with affordable shows every week.
Full disclosure: I’m a stand-up comedian, and when I found myself in the position to move to Paris last year, I was thrilled but slightly concerned about the comedy scene here. I mean, when I think about Paris, I think about a lot of things, but stand-up comedy is definitely not one of them. I wasn’t even sure if there was stand-up, let alone in English. Sure, I saw “How to Become Parisian in One Hour,” but I needed to find some good old-fashioned “what’s the deal with these people” joke telling!
To my delight and surprise, I stumbled upon a blossoming English-speaking stand-up comedy scene thanks to a little show called “A New Yorker Paris,” and to the godfather of English-language stand-up comedy in Paris, Sebastian Marx.
Sebastian, an American expat of nine years and counting, performs his one-man show “A New Yorker in Paris” every Friday night at 8 on the top floor of the Théâtre du Gymnase at So Gymnase. Seriously, the joke is on you after you climb five flights of stairs to get to the very cozy theater within a theater. The show is performed in a one-hour stand-up comedy format, touching on the comedy of daily life in Paris—from jumping the turnstiles on the metro, to the art of eating a croissant without turning everything you touch into butter, to (not) understanding his French girlfriend singing Michael Jackson. I think what makes Marx’s show such a success is that he creates a perfect blend of American self-deprecation and Parisian criticism that tripists, expats and locals can all appreciate and enjoy.
Immediately after his show, Marx hosts a stand-up open mic, the New York Comedy Night. Basically, by sending him an email beforehand, anyone from newbies to professional comics can get a shot to work his or her material onstage. In the United States, these shows could often be less than successful. I know this because I have firsthand experience bombing at more than a few of them. But because it’s the only English-speaking open mic in Paris, the best of the best English-speaking comics come out each week, and the shows are consistently high caliber.
Though the show is in English, many of the comics are not native English speakers, so there is always a cool international mix both onstage and in the audience. Trust me: stand-up comedy is TOUGH, let alone doing it in another language, and the comics who perform here each week nail it every time.
One NYC Comedy Night regular who decided to take the plunge into English-language comedy is Marseille native Pierre Gaspard. After spending some time at the NYC Comedy Night working on his material, he recently launched his own one-man show, “No Shame,” which plays every Saturday night at le Paname.
So if you feel in need of a little something funny, try out what Paris’s new English-language comedy scene has to offer. Who knows—maybe you’ll be the next one onstage.
“A New Yorker in Paris”
Fridays at 8 p.m. at Théâtre du Gymnase at So Gymnase. Tickets: 10 euros, including a drink.
New York Comedy Night
Fridays at 9:30 p.m. at Théâtre du Gymnase at So Gymnase. Tickets: 10 euros, or only 5 euros if you come to the first show.
Saturdays at 7 p.m. at le Paname. No cover charge, one drink minimum.
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