Olivier Giraud has a problem.
Thirty years ago he told his mother that he would one day perform at L’Olympia – Paris’ iconic theatre venue – and that he would buy her a nice dress. His problem is that now he has to find the dress!
Olivier’s immensely popular one-man comedy show “How To Become A Parisian In One Hour?” has been running at the Théâtre des Nouveautés for seven years now and on Friday 20th May he will be giving a special performance of the show at the prestigious Olympia theatre to an audience of 2 100.
To summarize the show in numbers: it is one man, sixty minutes, over 1 000 performances to more than 500 000 spectators of over 30 different nationalities, innumerable laughs and countless thought-provoking observations that remain with you long after the final curtain has closed.
The show’s premise is that non-Parisians can learn how to integrate Parisian culture by adopting the specific behaviour, expressions and mannerisms that are so typically associated with Parisians. Whilst Parisians are often the butt of the show’s humour, Olivier assures us he has never had any negative feedback from French spectators, who make up almost half of each audience: “Most of the time, I‘m hearing ‘Ohlala, I’m exactly like this!’ They’re coming to see their life in a mirror and they love it!”
Olivier came up with the concept for the show after having worked for a period the States where he observed the differences in the way the Americans and the French behave in certain situations. He took the daring decision to write a comedy based on these differences in English, to the dismay of many theatre professionals in Paris who were reluctant to take the risk of producing a show that would not be performed in French. Ultimately, however, his dare paid off and “How To Become A Parisian In One Hour?” is one of the most successful shows running in Paris today.
A keen observer and excellent mimic, Olivier is also very close to his audience members, whose participation is an integral part of the show. Their reactions inspire him for each performance and make every presentation different. “The show has changed a lot over the past seven years! I try to improvise a lot and when the improvisation is a success I include the new jokes in the script. My show is really very interactive so every night is utterly different following the public’s reactions.”
Creating humour out of what can be a difficult and confusing situation for newcomers to the city has also helped some of the people who have attended the show. “One guy from Latin America came on stage and at the end of the show he thanked me so much because it was his first week in his company. He was a new expat and the fact that he was on stage was the best integration for him. All his new colleagues then knew him perfectly and knew his name.”
Performing at the Olympia requires making certain changes. “The mise en scène will be different because the stage is four times bigger than the Théâtre des Nouveautes (600 seats). I’ll also have some great lights and I’ll add some new parts, but I can’t tell you more. It will be a surprise for my spectators.”
Olivier has always been very accessible to his fans, inviting them to take selfies with him after each performance. “I love spending time with my fans after a show to thank them for coming to see me! For sure I’ll spend some moments with the spectators after the show at the Olympia also!”
When he’s not currently preparing for his Olympia performance with voice training and running to stay in shape, Olivier likes to spend time with his one-year-old baby girl: “I already teach her the Parisian facial expression … Ohlala!” Once the challenge of L’Olympia is over he has plans to write a new French comedy.
As a dedicated supporter and fan of his show, Expatriate Magazine wishes Olivier good luck with his performance at L’Olympia and with his hunt to find the right dress for his mother!
To see Olivier perform at L’Olympia visit http://www.oliviergiraud.com