Paris is a magical city at any hour, but she shines just a little brighter when the sun goes down. You’ve probably heard of the world-famous cabaret, Moulin Rouge, but did you know there are 140 other theaters and 39 cabarets around town?
Ever since Josh and I started co-producing our own comedy show, We Should Hang Out Sometime in Santa Monica, it’s been even more fun to check out the local theater scene of wherever we're traveling. I've learned so much about how to run our show by seeing how other venues run important aspects of the event from the box office to creating an awesome experience for each guest. It's legit my FAVORITE thing to make people feel truly welcomed and that's probably something I learned from seeing my mom host so many amazing parties over the. years.
I was obsessed with theatre as a kid, so it's been fun to reawaken that child-like giddiness I get when a live performance is about to start. On our most recent trip to Paris, we got tickets to two comedy shows performed in English, How to become a Parisian in One Hour and Oh My God, She’s Parisian!
Before I got the tickets to those two shows, I’ll admit I was verrrrry tempted to channel my inner Nicole Kidman at the Moulin Rouge show down the street. But the price tag of $200 per couple (that's the cheapest option without drinks) seemed way too expensive for something that felt like a tourist trap.
The iconic red wind mill is located on one of the edgier streets in Paris, the Boulevard de Clichy
On one of our first nights in Paris, I found an online discounted ticket platform called Billet Réduc that sells tickets for shows all over town. We use a similar platform at home called Goldstar to spread the word about We Should Hang Out Sometime.
Billet Réduc is an amazing resource for travelers looking for live entertainment in Paris
If the extent of your French is bonjour with a hard "r" then I highly recommend using Billet Réduc to search for shows performed in English. Seeing live local entertainment is a fun way to see the city and get a better understanding of the culture.
How to Find a Show in English in Paris
1. Go to www.billetreduc.com
2. Select Advanced Search beneath the Search Bar
3. Look for Language of the Event and choose "English
4. Voilà! You'll see a list of 30+ events in English performed in Paris
Without further ado, here are my reviews of the two comedy shows performed in English that I saw in Paris: How to Become a Parisian in One Hour and Oh My God, She’s Parisian!
Théâtre des Nouveaux
24 Boulevard Poissonnière - 75009 Paris
Length: 70 minutes
Cost: ~$40 for two tickets
We’ve all heard the unflattering stereotypes about French people. Arrogant. Impatient with Tourists. But they’re also effortlessly cool and impossibly classy. Personally, I've found Parisians to be full of hospitality, but that's another post for another day.
Olivier Giraud addresses these stereotypes head-on in his daring one-man comedy show, How to Become a Parisian in One Hour. Before following his dream of becoming a comedian, he spent several years in Palm Beach as maître d' at The Breakers and was inspired to write this show because his American customers always asked him the same question: "Why are Parisians so arrogant?" This show is his hilarious answer.
How to Become a Parisian in One Hour is a satirical tutorial on how to become as cool and detached as the people who sip espressos and slink around all cool like in Paris. You'll learn what to say and do in everyday situations like ordering at a restaurant, renting an apartment, dancing at a night club and riding the metro. Spoiler alert: wear black, complain and pout a lot.
From the moment the show began, Giraud invited our ultra-international audience to be an active participant. When he asked us to yell out where we were from, there must have been two dozen countries represented in the crowd. When I yelled “Los Angeles,” he was quick to imitate my plucky American accent and even found a girl in the front row who said she'd escaped from North Korea. Although he tried to get to the bottom of it, we never quite figured out her story.
When Giraud requested volunteers for a bit later on in the show, an American gentleman, who Josh and I met before the show started yelled out, “PICK ASHLEY FROM LOS ANGELES!” I slumped in my seat a little to avoid Giraud's laser-like stare, but I soon found myself dancing onstage in front of 150+ people to Toxic by Britney Spears. In this bit, Giraud was teaching us how to dance sensually "like a real Parisian woman." It was an absolute blast to be part of this wildly creative and smart show and Giraud has struck a pitch-perfect balance at making fun of himself, while teaching us about French culture along the way.
Whether it’s your first or fortieth trip to Paris, I highly recommend a rendez-vous with Olivier Giraud. Be sure to greet him after the show and try on your best French pouty face.
Here's me onstage (L) with Olivier Giraud and doing our best pouty faces with
him after the show (R)
Théâtre Bo St Martin 19 Boulevard Saint-Martin, 75003 Paris
Length: 65 minutes
Cost: ~$40 for two tickets
Imagine a French woman in your mind. Are you doing it? Okay. Chances are she's perfect, thin, composed and fashionable. Head to the Théâtre Bo St Martin to see stand-up comedienne and native Parisienne, Julie Collas rip these clichés to shreds in her one-woman show, Oh my God, She’s Parisian!
Collas opened the show in a big way with a jazzy musical number, which set the tone for the high-octane performance that followed. Wearing a traditional red beret, striped nautical sweater and waving metallic pompoms, she looks every bit the caricature of a French woman. I can't remember if she carried a baguette or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if one worked its way into the show someday.
Throughout the performance Collas shares her thoughts on life, marriage and motherhood, all while demystifying the false clichés that foreigners have of Paris. Her bottom line is that it's not as perfect as it seems. Collas is a natural storyteller, sharing tales of the less attractive side of living in one of the world’s most glamorized cities, such as the high cost of living, the bleak weather, the challenges of shuffling kids around, and the impossibility of finding a decently sized apartment. We learn she has a harmless obsession with French President, Emmanuel Macron and rightfully laughs at us tourists for actually obeying traffic lights.
There's a lot of dark humor, which I've learned that French people love. More than 70% of her audience members are actually local Parisians! Some bits made me more uncomfortable than others, but I think it's healthy to be exposed to comedic bits that get you out of your mental comfort zone.
Overall, I admired her unabashed bravery and nonstop energy on stage. I definitely recommend this show if you're looking to hear from a fresh comedic voice in Paris. Before quitting her job to pursue comedy, Collas was a corporate attorney, so it's incredible to me that she now performs a successful show for 6 hours per week in English, her second language. It was fun to see that her husband Yann is her co-producer who runs the entire box office and guest experience. They're a husband-wife team just like me and Josh, so I wish we'd had a chance to meet up with them after the show!
The biggest drawback of the show? Learning that classically thin French women (like Julie Collas) don't eat croissants every day for breakfast.
Here we are with Collas (R) after the show...trying to smile like a Parisienne here,
like Olivier Giraud taught us
Adventure Unabashedly Pro Tips
DOWNLOAD THE APP: Download the Billet Réduc app before your trip, so you can see what shows are happening when you’re in town.
BOOK AHEAD: Josh and I usually don’t pre-book a lot of vacation funtivities, but it was actually really helpful to have fun shows to look forward to throughout the day. It also helped motivate me to stay out-and-about despite the inevitable jet lag!
ARRIVE EARLY: Get the full theatre experience and arrive ~20 minutes early to enjoy a pre-show cocktail and snack in the lobby.
RELAAAAAX: If you’re concerned about objectionable content, I’d say both shows are a solid PG-13. Try not to take everything so seriously (I'm talking to myself here too). Comedians are best-known for pushing the envelope on fairly sensitive topics, so just remember…this is a performance, not a personal assault on you!
Now sit back, relax and enjoy one of these fabulous English language shows in Paris! If you find another cool show in English on Billet Réduc, please let me know so I can check it out next time I'm in town.