Photo: Letizia Mariotti
Before Gad Elmaleh, a renowned Moroccan-French Comedian, took the stage on Tuesday evening at Joe’s Pub, the audience, mainly French speaking, was eager to be pleased and curios about him embarking on “the newest chapter of his career: breaking through to the American audience.”
As soon as he grabbed the microphone it became clear that his brand of accessible, refined humor works in English just as well as it does in French. He greeted the audience with a “Hello, New York,” before pausing here and there to shake a hand and ask a question, then he went on to tell his all jokes and funny stories.
He talked about leaving everything behind, starting anew, about his all new experience in America and New York City where he now resides. He talked about everything from renting a flat in the city to cab drivers and airports, from dating to men "dating" their own wives. All entirely in English and it works. He is the kind of skilled comic performer that can pull someone who’s had a bad day out of a funk.
During the 45-minute set, at the sold-out Joe’s Pub, he delivered the same successful mix of deadpan intelligence, self deprecation and observational humor that made him so famous in France where his shows attract thousands of people.
So why leaving fame and fortune and starting all over in America? Why doing his stand up in English? Both questions are now part of his act: "I need to challenge myself" is his "East Cost answer" and "It’s my passion project" is his "West Coast answer".
The truth is, that despite having to perform in a foreign language, Gad Elmaleh seemed in his stand-up element that night. He seemed to really enjoy being there and saying his jokes in English as much as his audience clearly enjoyed hearing them. The French fans came to have fun and they were not disappointed. As for the Americans, who first got a glimpse of him watching him on The Tonight Show or The Daily Show, were captivated and enchanted. "I really laughed a lot," said one of them. It might only be a matter of time before Gad Elmaleh will regularly sell out arenas in the U.S.
The stand-up comedy, dubbed Oh My Gad, kicked off in June of last year in a sold-out ten-night run and has already been extended twice. It is currently scheduled to run through June. So go and laugh with Gad Elmaleh. He has been hailed as “the Jerry Seinfeld of French comedy” and was voted the “funniest person" in France. Aren't you a little curious?
Gad Elmaleh: Oh My Gad I The Public Theater. Through June 10