PARIS: Bad timing, jokes that fall flat or an audience that just doesn’t get it; such occupational hazards can lead to a slow, painful ‘stage death’ for the stand-up comic.
French comedian Patrick Veisselier, however, has decided to risk all three from next week when he stages his one-man show Patrick Le Chinois (“Patrick the Chinese Man”), performed entirely in Mandarin, a language he has never spoken before.
Based around the idea of a Frenchman who sets out to become a Chinese man because he believes they have better lives, Veisselier will be hoping his cultural observations and accent can hit the mark for his audience of mostly Chinese expatriates in France.
Veisselier, who wrote the hour-long script himself before having it translated, has spent the past two months working eight hours a day with the help of a tutor to memorise it.
“At the beginning my tutor said to me ‘you are really crazy’,” said the comic, who has never set foot in China.
“I was only learning two minutes (of the script) a day. But the first ten minutes were the hardest and now she (my tutor) says I have a really good accent, an accent from the south of China,” he said.
Veisselier came up with the jokes after reading books about Chinese culture and meeting expatriates in France who told him that French comedy left them cold.
“It’s about a Frenchman who thinks that Chinese men always have a good job, a good company etc so he tries to become a Chinese man and that is the source of the comedy,” he said.
“I was told that the Chinese hate jokes about vulgarity, politics and sex, so it was quite difficult,” he added.