MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL: What’s funnier than an Englishman mocking the French? An Englishman pretending to be a Frenchman mocking the whole world.
The self- and sex-obsessed Marcel Lucont is the very entertaining creation of Britain’s Alexis Dubus (a fact you need to go digging for, as the persona has Stephen Colbert-esque levels of audacious authenticity). After a totally over-the-top intro in French, M. Lucont strolled on stage with a glass of wine in hand; a Gallic cliché in the style of Serge Gainsbourg, all arrogance and creepy suavity. He proceeded to charm the audience with lashings of insults and sleaze that was mostly prepared, though some impromptu moments of audience interaction also showed a quick wit.
His wry observations about how inferior everyone and everything outside France is ranged from New Zealanders’ (mis)use of vowels to the English word ‘grapefruit’ (he’s so right: it’s equal parts contrary and literal meanings). His favourite subjects – sex and himself – were the focus of readings from his poems and ‘unpublished memoirs’, which revealed a life of existential ennui enlivened only by absurd sexual encounters bereft of love or respect.
Occasionally Marcel indulged in some musical patter, accompanied on guitar or accordion by another stereotype – a man in a beret and striped top, who spent the rest of his time on stage creating a surprise for the end of the show. I’ll say no more other than it related to a young woman in the front row who Marcel directed plenty of sleazy amour at. His other underling was a scantily clad femme who made a suitably gratuitous appearance to deliver a simple prop.
It’s likely that the more familiar you are with the French the more amusing this hour of caricature is, though clearly everyone in the packed house had their funny bone tickled. Apart from the ecstatic intro, very little French was spoken, extending only to the poem title Baise moi ce soir dans le pissoir, which becomes fairly self-explanatory. It was typical of a show that expertly mixed the cliches of French disdain and sophistication. The result? As a guy sitting behind me said, “That was fantastic!”
Arthur’s Bar at Rosati’s
March 31 – April 24
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
March 30 – April 24
For more coverage see our dedicated Comedy Festival mini-site.
What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level