Like a lot of things, the French sense of humour is quite culturally specific, it can leave many Anglophones generally baffled and has led to the French being labelled as rather humourless (although they disagree – a recent survey showed that seven out of 10 French people think they are funny.)
But an increasing number of French comics are crossing over – either by performing routines in English or releasing subtitled performances.
See if these five French comedians can convince you that the French are, in fact, pretty funny.
1. Gad Elmaleh
This comedian is probably the most famous humorist in France. Born in Morocco with dual French and Moroccan nationality, he became famous thanks to his stand up comedy shows where he displays his talent for dancing (he is influenced by his dad, a mime artist and Michael Jackson).
In L’autre c’est moi he explained how the French learn English at school with the famous question “ Where is Brian?”. To me, this stand up was his best routine, and many French people make reference to it.
He also performs in America (in English) and Canada and has had regular appearances on late night TV shows in the US. Eagle-eyed film fans may also remember his cameo appearance in Midnight in Paris.
Not as big a star as Gad Elmaleh, but he is on his way. He became famous online thanks to a very well done video montage in 2016 of spoof interviews, including one with the French far right politician Marine Le Pen and one with Donald Trump.
He loves to tease every religion in France (and prefers not to say his origins in the interviews for this reason.)
Most of his shows are about the daily living and loves to talk about controversial subjects including weapons, sexual harrassment and the nuclear bomb.
3. Blanche Gardin
Blanche started her career at the Jamel Comedy Club (the TV show created by French humourist Jamel Debbouze to promote new comedians) and has since had an extensive career in stand-up and TV.
She is influenced by the controversial American humorist Louis C.K, whom she has dated.
With a dark view on life, she has referenced in her routines that she ran away from home at the age of 17, and later spent time in a psychiatric hospital.
Much of her work is available on Netflix France.
4. Florence Foresti
Less complex than Blanche Gradin, Florence has a similar sense of humour to Gad Elmaleh. She uses her everyday observations about her life, job, relationships and her kids for her stand-up. Born in Lyon, she became famous on the TV show On a Tout Essayé with the host Laurent Ruquier.
Recent routines have included I Don't Like Men, The Day After the Party and The Aircraft of Barbie and are in Florence Foresti Fait des Sketches. Her routine Foresti Party is available on Netflix France.
5. Keyvan Khojandi
Keyvan Khojandi began his career by writing and starring in the TV show Bref in 2011. The show – about a lonely Parisian's increasingly desperate attempts to find love – was a huge success all over France and is widely known across the country (and all episodes are now available on YouTube).
I hope you enjoy discovering these French artists and now you like French humour!
Sacha Aulangier blogs in English about life in France and aspects of the French culture and language. His blog – French Iceberg – can be found here.