March 1, 2024

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“I accept a new challenge”

“I accept a new challenge”

Paul Taylor is at a crossroads in his life. “After three bilingual shows, I decided to make people laugh in my mother tongue.” A few hours before he takes the stage at Sony Hall, where he will host the second edition of French Comedy Club, the British comedian who has lived in France for 15 years gets his story back on our microphone.

This Friday, January 19, you are hosting the second edition of the French Comedy Club. What should we expect?

“There will be a majority of French speakers in the room, but not only. The audience is a little different from mine, and I can play in both languages. Comedians like to give an American-style show. In France, the comedy club. Like a gala. I come back several times during the show, so The audience warms up before each artist appears, and I also do about ten minutes of sketching.

What's it like performing in New York, the comedy mecca of the world?

This is not my first time in New York. When I started in 2013 I did open scenes there. I still worked at Apple and had the opportunity to practice far away from New York. Last July, I did my show twice at comedy clubs. To a French speaker, the city certainly represents the mecca of comedy alongside London and Los Angeles. In New York, there is a different energy. As a French speaker, I'm less exposed to and mixed with the English scene. I'm going to use this to make English scenes to create my new project.

“Telling my life as a British expatriate in France, a theme thrust upon me”

Is this play of two languages ​​your trademark and what sets you apart from other comedians in France?

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It's an honor to say I'm a Franco-British, because I'm not, but I mean my French is good. I even consider it a holy grail to be able to assimilate to the point where I think I'm originally from France. Our job as comedians is to tell the world we live in. As an English expat in France, the theme stood out to me. Even a disabled comedian treats this theme with humor. Besides, I'm lucky that the British immigrant who scoffs at French culture has yet to gain a prominent place in France.

You have used this topic. But to make people laugh, French people must have self-respect. Did you face any difficulties in this regard?

Yes and no. I believe that to make fun of French culture, you have to do it authentically. The French probably hated Emilie in Paris because the series was so caricatured. On the other hand, there are subjects that the French find quite amusing. I knew myself through a painting about kissing, in which I told myself that I was embarrassed in the evening and did not know which cheek to start with. The French public found itself in this case. That's “French bashing”. But to do it well, the mocking theme has to be undeniable and unmistakable. For example, I have a joke that the French don't know how to count, if you take the TV show Sept à quatre, which starts at six in the evening. You shouldn't resort to unnecessary jokes like, “This waiter in France, he's so rude…”

You tell us about the kiss painting that was made public. Did you say to yourself at that moment, “I have my own writing style and humor”?

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I don't know if it was a conscious decision, I think it came naturally. It was a sketch I had been doing on stage for three years, and we chose to shoot it in sequence. Bingo, it worked great. It's a trigger you feel on stage: if you do a joke for the 10th time, it's still not funny, you have to change it because it can be a very sensitive subject.

You specify a new project. Can you tell us what it will contain?

After these eight years and production of three bilingual shows, I decided to take up this new challenge and produce an entire show in my mother tongue. At the moment, when I tour internationally, I only speak to audiences of French expats who understand English moments well. I think I've reached the limit of what I can do bilingually. Not so bad to end my third tour with Zenith! From now on, I want to see how far the English language can go and focus on English-speaking countries. Comedy is a very saturated world. I'm a blonde, heterosexual man in my thirties. I have no added value compared to other comedians.

Ultimately, is this the biggest risk in your next career?

It's like opening a French bakery in New York. With my French background, the shop will be a hit because they don't make good bread in America. But if it falls, when I return to France and compare myself to French bakeries, I will understand that my bread is not so good. Here's the analogy I'll make today: from now on, I'm going to compare myself to some pretty incredible stand-ups from the English and American scenes. Why anyway? Stand-up in these countries has been around for a long time and is very simple. For example, jokes about vegetarianism have been around for 10-15 years in the US, in the UK… I have to innovate.

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Are you alone in writing and constructing your sketches and performances?

I chose to write my own. This may be on the purist side, but I see it only in positioning: giving your own feelings and your opinion of the world, not needing a co-author to dilute your views a little. But I understand comedians who surround themselves. Bigger artists like Chris Rock or Kevin Hart work with bigger groups because they're often under pressure to release shows. In stand-up, it's interesting to get feedback from comedians who accompany you during the evening and advise you on some of the jokes you've made. But they are not official co-authors. My manager or my wife also share their feelings with me.

To wrap up, do you have any last words or a punchline for this interview?

Having the opportunity to play in other French-speaking cities like Brussels, Luxembourg, Monaco is really incredible, but having people like Colin Gardeau to start a French comedy club in New York and spread French comedy around the world. !”