What the fuck guys? I interviewed Paul Taylor. Sorry for my French but with Paul Taylor you need to get used to his humour and let me tell you’ll enjoy it so much.
Paul Taylor is British and an unusual Brit as he has lived in France for 8 years sharing his life with his French wife Adeline. This comedian became especially popular on the French TV Channel Canal+ by laughing and mocking us, French people, and you know what we forgive him because we looove it. In 3 minutes sharp, he mocks everything, our terraces, our obsession about translating American movies, our habit to “faire la bise” (kiss on the cheeks)… and quite frankly we can only laugh.
Then Paul made a crazy bet and succeeded in becoming a full-time comedian 2 years ago, encouraged and assisted by his wife who now follows him everywhere.
I had the pleasure of meeting this new young dynamic and funny married couple during the French festival in Brisbane and obviously I couldn’t resist interviewing them.
FCT: Bonjour Paul, France has discovered you on Canal+ TV, and here you are now in Australia, can you your humour in one word?
PT: Franglais (French-English). It’s a humour with two languages speaking about two cultures.
FCT: Can you tell me your journey? Were you funny when you were a kid, did you already have this desire to make people laugh?
PT: Not at all. I had the feeling that everybody was funny when I was younger. I was not really the funniest guy but I liked laughing and then I have been the only one enough smart to make a career out of it. There are people much funnier than me.
FCT: An example? A comedian that you really loved?
PT: The first one I have started to “been watched” (word that he uses in English) is Lee Evans, a British comedian. He’s very physical, running on stage. He puts in a lot of energy, sweating a lot, he speaks about day-to-day life. I watched all his DVDs and it was an inspiration. Then, there were others when I started to find my own style.
FCT: What was your trigger to start this career?
PT: The trigger to be on stage came when I was at uni. There was a party with students who were on stage, some were not so funny and I found this bizarre. I said to myself that it can’t be so difficult to make people laugh and I could do it. I targeted open stages in London first as spectator, with mates and Adeline. One day one got scared on stage and left so one of my mates told me that I could do 5 minutes on stage. I did it and after I did a few in London before moving to France.
When I arrived to France, I didn’t do shows for 3 years, instead focusing on my real job as a trainer at Apple. After these 3 years, I told myself that life was too hectic and I went back on stage as a leisure activity at first in 2013. After 2 years, it worked well and I knew the only way to make this really work was to commit 100% of my time on it. Then I quit my job.
FCT: I then turned to Adeline. So you met at University in London, were you seduced by his humour?
AT: In fact it is funny but yes indirectly. First his perfect British accent and also what was rather funny was that I had a problem with my computer and my friend told me « my roommate is computer savvy, he can help you « . This is the way we met. At the time my level of English was really very mediocre, Paul let me express myself in English and when I stumbled over a word he would give it to me. So I said to him « but in fact you speak French? Why are you letting me have a hard time then? » And he answered « well you came to England to learn English right?”. It was not humour but his playful side that seduced me.
FCT: And you Paul what seduced you in your wife? Is it the small French touch? (I ask him with a big knowing smile with Adeline and a little touch of humour)
PT: Well, yes necessarily when you are English. The French side and the full package.
FCT: I am curious, what is the French touch for the English?
PT: it is another language, it is another way of being. I find generally that the French women are more elegant and less unrefined than the English women. They are better dressed, more stylish. The stereotype that the French are chic is true. So yes it was the foreign side.
I find generally that the French women are more elegant and less unrefined than the English women. They are better dressed, more stylish. The stereotype that the French are chic is true.
FCT: After this cultural aside, I return to humour. You lived in England, in Canada, in France. How do you qualify French humour and comedy?
PT: People often ask me this question and I believe that it is especially in the way of consuming humour. In English-speaking countries, the way we look at comedy or humour is the stand-up. There is only that. While in France, it is many sketches, many characters and in England it has become kitsch. It was cool to play characters 20 years ago but today it is more based on daily life. Today comedians get on stage and express their own opinion of what is happening. It is more committed and more sincere.
FCT: Do you feel committed in your humour? And if you had to qualify yourself as committed, what would be your commitment?
PT: Committed no. People will say that my commitment it is to break the barrier between French and English, but I do not do that deliberately. If I move closer to both cultures it is just that it is my life as bilingual, I am English but I live in France. There are a lot of people who tell me that they like what I’m doing because they learn English with my humour, with my shows, with my videos and conversely with French. I have even people who complain because they tell me that they cannot use my videos at school because I say « fuck » too often but the purpose it is just to make people laugh. I am very touched that people use my videos; if it can help people to learn the language it’s great but the purpose is to make people laugh.
FCT: Adeline, how Paul is in the daily life, is he always making jokes?
AT: Yes I find him even funnier in daily life than on stage. We laugh. In fact if we had to describe our daily life there is laughter every day, we laugh a lot together. A connection that we both have. I find him funny and apparently I also make him laugh (smile), I do not really know how maybe more because I am clumsy (giggles).
FCT: Paul, do you find sometimes inspiration in your wife?
PT: Yes yes there are many jokes which I tell on stage which are based on interactions of what she said. It comes from my daily life in France.
FCT: How do you see your career evolving?
PT: I don’t know. Well firstly the growth was slightly too fast over the past 2 years. And now I find myself in Brisbane, ambassador for a French Festival and then Melbourne even if I am not French, it is crazy. When you begin in the stand-up, you begin in small bars with 5 people and then you fight you fight you fight for decades. All the big stand up comedians in the United States, in Canada, in Australia, they all had a hard time, all of them! I found my niche very quickly in France but the most difficult in comedy it is to find your own thing. It is necessary to find your angle. So I found my angle with French. It is interesting to be in Australia and to see if I can make people laugh and why not later on start an international career.
FCT: And you Adeline, how do you see his career development?
AT: Until very recently I was a brand lawyer, now I am going to work with my husband. I think that actually with his journey so far he is opening up to an international career, and being English in particular makes it easier. The only one who does this is Gad Elmaleh and who has a lot of merit (read also an interview on the blog with Gad Elmaleh).
PT: Gad Elmaleh is the only one to do that. And I believe what works well in the United States with Gad, is the fact that he is French. It is the opposite of me. Actually, he is the foreigner in the United States, I am the foreigner in France. I was lucky as I said before finding my angle: I am a Brit who makes fun of the French.
FCT: Since you are in France, your wife is French, do you feel a bit French?
PT: Not really (laughter). It’s not that I don’t want to, it is that I was trained in England.
FCT: What do you like in France that you do not find in England?
PT: The culture to go out on terraces, sit in cafes. The fact that bars are open after 11pm, there is a certain art de vivre but I l don’t really like this term about lifestyle, it’s too cliché. In fact the French work to live and the Anglophones we live to work. Even if I am not French, I prefer France than England and this is why I have been living there for 8 years now.
FCT: Last question which I often ask in my blog, what is for you the je ne sais quoi?
PT: I don’t even know. I believe that English have made up this expression about French (not really Paul it also exists in France but it is true that the anglophones use this expression a lot about French people). It is the secret which we are incapable of understanding that makes France and French so special.
After Australia, Paul and Adeline leave for China for a show to Shanghai and then a tour in France from October until December 2017.
Further to this interview, I naturally watched videos « What the fuck France » and let me tell you Paul that I simply adored all of it, so if you are an anglophile, I invite you to go on YouTube with friends and share good moments of giggles. Meanwhile Paul will also be at the Alliance Francaise in Melbourne for a show in Franglais and it is absofuckinglutely hilarious!
Interview realised in Brisbane Saturday 8th of August 2017 – Merci NHM Translation for the correction.