“These dead eyed idiots will never be pleased by what I have to offer,” grumbled the French comedian Marcel Lucont about certain ungrateful audience members he had encountered.
“I am trying to offer a prime cut of steak to a dog that is attempting to lick its balls.”
Watch out Manchester, the self-titled “Best French Comedian (…in the UK”) is coming to the North next week – and this is a man who appears to have genuine disdain for his audience and most of the British public.
“Vrai disdain,” he says.
Lucont quietly exploded onto the British stand up scene since his arrival almost a decade ago. He has appeared on various TV programmes including Russell Howard’s Good News, John Bishop’s Christmas Show and Live at The Electric. Off the screen, his sardonic musings have won accolades at the Amused Moose Comedy Awards (2012), Fringe World (2013) and the Chortle Awards (2015).
“What is black and white and red all over?” he asks MM.
A nun tragically rolling down a steep hill?
“An English steak hideously overcooked and further ruined by the addition of ketchup and mayonnaise.”
We’ve got a stonking line up next week. It’s @MarcelLucont @ShellByronComic, Jilberto Soto, Mat Hutson and its going to be WONDERFUL.
TUESDAY 18TH SEPT // £3-£5 // DOORS 7PM pic.twitter.com/VR1kpeMLWO
— XS Malarkey (@xsmalarkey) September 13, 2018
It’s this type of acerbic mockery that the comedian is known for in the British Isles.
However, there’s a question hanging over Lucont’s surly forehead – why does he spend so much time in the UK if he has so much disdain for the people?
A stream of cigarette smoke escapes the Frenchman’s lips as he mulls over the question.
“I suppose for me it’s a lot more easy to make the English laugh. You go most places in Europe and especially their humour is very refined and it’s a joy for me.
“I spend six/seven months of the year in England. It’s a lot more easy for me to make them laugh, they have a lot less quality control. So I come here, easy money to earn.
“In France it is a lot more difficult, they are looking for every word, every nuance and they are reading and writing stuff down. The standard is very high. So I have to leave for England because the standards are lower.”
GARDEN GLOVES AND PRICKLY PEARS
Lucont’s last touring show in the UK was ‘The Whine List’, a type of group therapy session where the audience members share their experiences. He is preparing to take this show on a tour around Europe.
“Everyone mostly leaves more depressed,” admits Lucont. “There is never a solution – they have to sort that shit out themselves.”
The show is different every time. The audience share topics such as their worst day at work, worst “amorous encounter” and their worst overseas experiences.
Notable stories from these sets include:
A man’s failed proposal at the bottom of a ski lift which then resulted in a heart-wrenching journey along the slopes. “All we can do is look back and laugh,” smiled Lucont, sipping his glass of Charlemagne.
“There was a man at a house party, they were all playing ‘Truth or Dare’ and he was dared to leave.”
With particular loathing, Lucont recounted an audience member’s confession that he masturbated with a garden glove that he had just been using to pick prickly pears.
“When you ask me ‘What is the solution?’ this man should probably not be in the gene pool in the first place.”
NO SOCKS REQUIRED: Lucont says he took the piss out of adults from an early age
Surmising his thoughts on the show, with a Gallic shrug he remarks: “I compound the memory and the failure of their life and show to an audience, get my money and leave. They’re in the past.”
In a bid to delve in to the psychology surrounding his desire to perform, MM asked about Lucont’s humble beginnings in comedy. He does not come across as a character who required affirmation.
Lucont never knew his mother, he was raised by his father and his father’s various lovers.
“I am doing comedy since the day I was born. I think truly I recall in the…crib? The child bed.
“I remember the adults would come and visit and they try making the stupid faces to me to try make me laugh and I would not. I was a very silent child, I was born entirely silently and made no noise when I came out.
“I simply observed the world, I mimicked the adults. I took the piss (if you will) from the adults from an early age. I would give nothing to them except mockery. So from that really early age was where my comedy career started. They would not pay me money for this – not yet.”
However, Lucont had a troubled relationship with his father, arguing over the theft of cigarettes, alcohol and sexual partners. Eventually in 2001, he was evicted and sent off to Paris to study philosophy, where his onstage comedy career began.
SENSE OF WORTH
“It was a calling. It was not so much a choice. I don’t have the choice. I start doing it and friends of course are laughing and a person just offer money to me after that. It was a natural occurrence.”
A comedian’s career typically begins with short unpaid open mic slots.
“I bypassed all of that. There was no open mics. I tried it once and they say you are overqualified and refused to put me on their show.
“I learned how good I was immediately. Immediately I had this sense of worth – which I always assumed but it’s nice to have it verified.”
I have the pleasure of interviewing @MarcelLucont on Wednesday. Happened to dig up this book that myself and my dad purchased from him after a show of his 4 years ago! The message he wrote is golden and rings true. pic.twitter.com/7U532h09Yz
— Samuel Port (@sammyptweet) September 10, 2018
By all accounts (Lucont’s accounts), the shows were extravagant: involving pyrotechnics, dancing women and animals alongside his biting satire.
Nevertheless, one fateful performance dashed Lucont’s university career to cinders. The incident involved a rogue firework, a cat and a stripper.
“In the show, they were working in tandem…and you realise they are three things that should not be placed together. Apart, absolutely fine – but not together.
“I don’t know what I was trying to pull off there. It was not necessary work – I was ejected from college. I took my own path after that.
“They asked me back to try to repeat the trick for a television premise, but the university still would not allow it. There was a professor who was sitting in the front row who still to that day has no eyebrows.
“He said ‘No, don’t even try this again!’ and the irony is I could not tell how angry he was by looking at him…but I could tell from the tone.”
“BASTARDS” IN LEATHERHEAD
According to the comedian, comedy is far more sophisticated in France. He considers himself the best French comedian in the UK but in France it is more difficult to gauge where he stands in the echelons of comedy.
“I am still in that high plain but the plain is so much higher. It’s really impossible to distinguish, the best…there are probably five or six of us who will nod in agreement that we are all superb.”
When asked if he’s experienced any backlash due to his superior attitude (MM held back on labelling the comedian as arrogant), he recounted that he had to deal with “bastards” in Leatherhead who were angry – furious to be called idiots by him.
Naturally our discussion gravitated towards politics in regards the Anglo-French relationship. He could see the next question coming.
“Ask it!” he implored, pontificating with his fifth glass of wine.
We move onto Brexit…
“So post-Brexit, now it is more easy than ever to take the piss out of the English. The jokes write themselves almost. It’s such a real fuck you to Europe and still there is so very much to learn – from France especially – they shit on their own plate.”
MM point out that France came awfully close to electing the far-right political party Le Front National into office and that his own views are somewhat nationalistic in their sentiment.
“I am not a person who says “Oh, our flag is better than everyone else’s flag! Oh arr look at it!” he responds.
“It’s all about the things you cannot deny: the food, the wine, the women – all of these things, it’s not even an opinion, it’s an actual fact that we are the best in the world. I do not try to be nationalist – but it is impossible not to be.”
So what would his advice be to new comedians making their way on to the scene – just like the young Lucont who learned the hard way not to mix a cat, a firework and a stripper together.
Lucont’s lip curls, his nose upturns, his eyebrows arch and he squints his eyes in a dubious manner.
“To the new comedians I would say: ‘I think we have enough now. Probably best to leave it. Try something else.’
“I think it’s an overcrowded market. You can try but when the level that they are looking at is me, I think, perhaps it’s time to think ‘Okay that’s not something I can achieve’. It’s something that you are born with – it’s not something that can be done.”
There are regular comedy nights at the above Manchester venues. For more information visit their websites. Merci.