The Théâtre des Nouveautés (Theater of Novelties or News or Innovations) is one of the many theaters along the Grands Boulevards in Paris. Most of these theaters specialize in contemporary French comedies, which are notoriously difficult for us poor foreigners to understand, even those of us who have some acquaintance with this mysterious language.
So the Théâtre des Nouveautés really did come up with something new when they started presenting a show called How to Become Parisian in One Hour? by Olivier Giraud. Actually he started out in a smaller theater, but then switched to the larger Théâtre des Nouveautés, with over six hundred seats, when they realized that he could fill the house several times a week.
Girard is a French stand-up comedian who has lived in the United States for several years and speaks fluent American English, but in the show he speaks English with a funny French accent. The show is advertised as a “One Man Show 100% in English” but that is not quite true as he also teaches us to say the most useful French swear words that every true Parisian uses constantly.
The show is also advertised as being “100% easy to understand for French!” — which seems to be true since a lot of people around me were speaking French together when I was there.
Many of the jokes in the show have to do with the typical stereotypes that people have about the French and other nationalities. “You love Paris but you think that Parisians are rude! You’re right, they are! You are too nice and want to become arrogant! Don’t wait and come to THE training.”
A lot of the humor comes from his acting and facial expressions. He demonstrates, for example, how girls of different nationalities fake an orgasm (the Parisian girls don’t even bother) and how girls of different nationalities react when a man can’t get an erection (British girls are the most sympathetic, he claims, and Parisian girls the least). The show is not recommended for people under 16.
Near the end of the show, Girard also does a funny imitation of a Parisian impresario saying it would never work to do an English-language show in Paris, but obviously it does work, at least this one does. The people in the audience come from all over the world. About twenty nationalities were represented the night I was there (he asks at the beginning) and also people from Paris and other parts of France. He always has some good-natured jokes about “provincial” French cities, if anyone admits to coming from one of them.
After the show the audience exits to the left, where Olivier Giraud is waiting to greet each spectator personally. You can’t exit to the right, however, because from that side people are already coming in for the next show, which is something completely different.
As of 2018, How to Become Parisian in One Hour? is in its sixth year at the Théâtre des Nouveautés (ninth year altogether) and is scheduled to run until June 2019 at least.
Address: Théâtre des Nouveautés, 24 Boulevard Poissonnière, 75009 Paris
My photos in this post are from 2013. I revised the text in 2018.