There are stereotypes of the French, and then there are stereotypes of the French. Marcel Lucont manages to embody all of those, and then some, all the whilst having you nearly falling out the chair with laughter. It’s humour laced with sarcasm and Muscadet-levels of dryness, with the best bits of French grinçant. Which is ironic, given Marcel Lucont is a character played by a British comedian.
The show, appropriately titled “Marcel Lucont Etc. – A Chat Show“, starts as thus: a dark theatre room with ambient, late-night café style jazz played by a live three-piece band, and as the lights come up, Lucont strolling up to the mic with a glass of red in one hand and a look of near-boredom in the other. He’s gone barefoot, as if he owns this space and we’re just guests in his abode. The touch of snobbery and pretentiousness is perfectly balanced with an almost resigned attitude to pleasing his audience. But he makes the audience work for the laughs, instead of shouting obscenities from the rooftops or dishing out low-brow jokes, his is subtler, coyish – like a cat that wants you to pet him but hisses ever so slightly every time you get near.
The show itself is split in to two parts – the first an interaction with the audience, and the second an interview with another performer at the festival. Part one gets rather smutty, almost borderline slutty. You’re not entirely uncomfortable, though, because somehow since it’s a “French guy” saying it, it’s okay. And it’s great entertainment. The process makes you become a little more at ease as part of the audience. Lucont manages to do crowd work right: using the audience as inspiration and the start of an improv, rather as the ultimate butt of the joke.
It’s the second part which worried me a little, as it’s so dependent on the interaction between two comedians. I was there the first night, with Jeremy Corbett, and his energy is so entirely different to Lucont that it almost jerked me out of the mood that had been set. Where Lucont was the Cheshire cat lounging in his fancy chair, Corbett was frantic, over-excited, a hamster on a sped-up running wheel. Not to say Corbett didn’t pull his weight – with a song routine which was so bad it was so good – more so as if Corbett was nervous, almost stumbling over his own words.
But that’s okay, because the show is really all about Lucont. And he is excellent. Considering the timing of publication for this piece, you would’ve already missed him for this year’s comedy fest. I do hope he manages to come back and do a new show for next year’s, as he’s an absolutely brilliant comic who I’d love to see again.
Who: Marcel Lucont
Where: Loft at Q Theatre
When: 2-5 May
Facebook – Marcel Lucont
Twitter – @MarcelLucont
Instagram – @marcel.lucont