Insights from a street performer in Paris

British Street Performer

Share Button

Stop! Watch me! i’m good! That’s how I’d started my show for years all over the world. I didn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work in Paris. Well, actually, the point is that the line doesn’t work, which is what makes it funny: as I stare with the eyes of an abandoned llama after the people ignoring my shouted request, others laugh, and do stop. So in a way, it does work.

Ten minutes after I first tried it in Paris, someone finally stopped and I started the show, a relief because, without an audience, you’re just a strange British guy shouting on the street who passers-by fear is about to talk about Jesus. It worked well. People laughed. People smiled. People were amazed by my magic tricks. Then it came to the moment to pass my hat. Everybody laughed once more, then – as one – promptly left.

I moved to Paris over a year ago, when my girlfriend got a job at the OECD. As a professional street performer, I can in theory work anywhere. I’d performed on the streets in Germany, Canada, America, and Israel – surely I thought, Paris couldn’t be any different. Right?
In a way, I was lucky to have travelled before coming to France. Had that happened to my younger self, I would have gone home, turned off the lights, wrapped myself in a duvet-crêpe andcried for a month. Being older and moreexperienced, I only cried for three weeks.

Of course, the problem wasn’t Paris. It was me. I had to adapt. Everyone experiences a bit of a culture shock in moving to a new city, especially in a new country. When you work on the streets, you feel it more than ever. The people who watch you have an energy about them, which changes from city to city. ‘The Vibe’, buskers call it.

In Dublin, the energy is depressed, rowdy and drunk. In Vancouver, it’s happy, relaxed and stoned. In Paris, it seems, the vibe is jovial, appreciative, but suffering from an endless “coup de barre”.

I had to slow down. That fitted the energy better. At the Centre Pompidou, where I perform, the audience is from all over Europe. Most speak English, but not as their frst language, so speeding through my jokes made them all fall flat. I began adding the odd French joke. After producing a volunteer’s card from my mouth I now say “Je n’aime pas manger les cartes, parce qu’elles ont le goût de la cuisine anglaise”.

It took a lot of work to adapt to busking in Paris. But as I’m sure all expats find, the effort was worth it. When I perform in England now, my show is much better. As soon as the weather clears up, I’ll be standing in front of the Centre Pompidou again, shouting: “Arrêtez!Regardez-moi! Je suis bon!”


That still never works, by the way.

Submitted by Owen Lean

Rotating Ads

Place your ad here

Going out

Who the hell is Sugar Sammy? – That moment your wife tells you you’re going to see a French-speaking comedy in Paris

GOING OUT
Anglophones in Paris are fortunate to be able to enjoy a thriving English-speaking comedy scene, with regular stand-up nights across the city. Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing most of these and have even [...]

Community News

COMMUNITY NEWS

360€ for 50 Hours Tuition!!! The Newest French Language School in Paris offers the most accessible rates

French language classes at Centre Zenith in the 20th arrondissement began on October 18th 2018. Founded by Sourav Choudhury, Centre Zenith brings experienced and native French speakers to the classroom where courses are explained with […]

Random Stories

Cover features

Just for Fun

interviews

Health

Family

Living

LIFE

Grumpy in Paris – 5 ways to beat the upcoming ‘winter blues’

Living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world has its many perks. A wealth of galleries, museums, delicious food, beautiful walks and a melodic language under no matter what context. But all pros have their cons and one of the lesser points of Paris these days is the ‘rentrée effect’ where people have come back from their holidays, said goodbye to summer and are now waiting for winter (even though we’ve only just hit autumn). Here are some ways to beat those winter blues and enjoy the colder season ahead … […]

Education

EDUCATION

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS & RESEARCHERS: GET ANSWERS TO THEIR QUESTIONS AND PAPERWORK IN ONE SINGLE PLACE! WELCOME DESK PARIS 2018

FOR THE 16TH CONSECUTIVE YEAR, THE CITÉ INTERNATIONALE UNIVERSITAIRE DE PARIS HAS SET UP A MULTI-SERVICE WELCOME AREA FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS AND RESEARCHERS, FROM THE END OF AUGUST THROUGH NOVEMBER, WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE CITY […]

COMMUNITY NEWS

Non-Profit – The Paris Institute for Critical Thinking begin university quality courses in English

Paris is hard to beat for its cultural and intellectual vibrancy. But the city’s English-speaking inhabitants – whether from France or abroad — do not have many opportunities to employ the language in sophisticated intellectual […]

Use our IG hashtag #expatriatesmagazine - We print our favourites

Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.

Random Listing

  • DOUCES MATERNELLES
    Bilingual preschools for ages from 2 to 6 (potty-trained or not) with small classes (8/10 pupils for 1 adult) and a mix of pedagogy (Montessori,[Read more]