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French Comic not lost in Translation

It’s fantastic being in France. You’re free to criticise François Hollande. And it’s the same in China. You’re free to criticise François Hollande there too.”

04·14·2014
Patrick Veisselier is a French comedian who performs stand up in Chinese, but there is a catch, Veisselier barely knows Chinese. His performances leave his audiences gasping for air not only because his pronunciation is wrong but because his act is hilarious. Patrick performs his 90-minute act in Paris to venues that are full to capacity.The people in the audience are mainly ethnically Chinese but born in France. France has one of the largest Chinese populations in Europe. The 41 year old comedian has memorized the entire act but uses a teleprompter to help in case he forgets one of his lines. During his performance Veissellier has screens which let his audience read his jokes in both Chinese and French. Veissellier speaks the entire show in Chinese except for when the occasional punch line in French. One of  Patrick Veissellier’s jokes is quite the zinger: “It’s fantastic being in France,” he announces to the audience. “You’re free to criticise François Hollande. And it’s the same in China. You’re free to criticise François Hollande there too.”

Veissellier came up with the idea for his comedy act when a Chinese friend of his told him that there are very few comedians in China. France has a lot of comedians but their acts and jokes are not funny to Chinese people. Patrick decided to cater his act towards Chinese people and enlisted the help of Chunjuan Jia-Sauvage, a bilingual French and Chinese woman who helped him create the script.

He went on to test the script on Chinese people in France and he was very successful in getting laughs out of his target audience. Veisselier was able to learn about Chinese culture and what jokes were appropirate by reading and speaking with expatriates in France. One of the members of the audience named May, aged 26-year,  said of Veisselier’s performance: “He really gets the Chinese sense of humour.” Patrick has never been to China but plans to bring his act to Shanghai and Beijing in July.

 

 

 

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