Pourquoi not? [by James Wenley]
7pm. The Q theatre foyer was packed to bursting with comedy festival patrons. And the Rangitira theate doors remained closed. Was notorious French comedian Marcel Lucont have a diva tantrum? Where the lighting gels the wrong shade of rouge? Had a – horror of horrors – Australian wine been delivered to his dressing ground? Was it all some existential meta-comedic joke? We outside, trapped like sardines, were none the wiser. For a Comedy Festival that runs on precision timing so patrons can make the most of their comedy nights nights on the time, I was not impressed by Q’s front of house management. Communication was poor – were the doors open or not? How long to wait? – and confusion reigned. That foyer is not a pleasant place to be when a full house is Luconted out.
7:40pm. We are finally in. Lucont in burgundy suit with his trademark bare feet and holding a glass of red wine enters and strikes a pose. He tut tuts the “technical difficulties” (how hard is it to turn on a projector?) and admits he hasn’t been told if they’ve been fixed or not (will we be electrocuted by the end of the show?). With his task made more difficult by audience displeasure, he soon has forgetting our waiting by seducing us into his comedic wavelength with his quite hypnotic slow paced patter and foreign sophistication.
Lucont’s musings are generally the usual crutch of the stand-up: the absurdities of everyday life and nationalistic observations, with some particular barbs towards the Australians (as previewed at his set at the Comedy Gala) and some wonderful thoughts on us (being particularly stuck by the walking green arrow man to help us cross the road). At times I did feel some material to be out of date – pointing out the absurdity of internet lingo “ROTFL” has a long lineage, and the European horsemeat scandal no longer feels so current. What makes Lucont so memorable however is the adoption of the haughty, cultured and borderline misogynist French-stereotype persona that makes everything that much funnier, with a wicked nihilistic streak thrown in.
Specific Lucontisians, such as a witty songs, poetry recitation, and readings from his personal memoir are a welcome change of pace that make a Lucont show experience a must. The foyer? Not so much.
Marcel Lucont performs as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival at Q until 17 May. Details see Comedy Festival.