Olivier Giraud, in case you haven’t yet visited Paris, has become in a few short years one of Paris’ most famous Parisians. Which is ironic, since he’s actually Bordelais (a native of Bordeaux).
But don’t tell any of his hundreds of thousands of fans that, since his one-man show, How to Become Parisian in One Hour, has been an instant hit since he launched it nearly six years ago. It's been going strong ever since.
Olivier Giraud's one-man show, "How to Become Parisian in One Hour" — Photo courtesy of Olivier Giraud
The ingeniousness of this show is that it’s a one-hour stand-up comedy routine delivered all in English by a French man in Paris. And if there's anybody who knows how to take the Mickey out of the Parisians, it's this Giraud.
In one short hour, he teaches you all the proper etiquette of being Parisian, as you find yourself between belly laughs that will have tears streaming down your face from his comedy routine. And yes, he is being sarcastic.
In fact, his sarcasm reaches such heights that audiences have responded with instant adoration since he launched his show back in 2009. But filling the Grands Boulevards' 600-seat Théâtre des Nouveautés was something he worked for.
At 29 years old he had just returned to France from having spent five years in Miami, where he worked as a restaurant manager.
"You know, returning to France at that time was hard because everyone here in Paris is always so depressed; no one ever smiles. In Paris, a day of sunshine is rare. But Miami, the exact opposite, was hard after awhile, too," he recalls, "There, everyone is always so happy. Everything is always super fantastic all the time. That’s a bit much, too."
So, on a complete whim and much against his conservative parents' wishes, Giraud decided to mount his one-man comedy routine. In Paris. He gave himself a year and said that if he hadn’t succeeded after a year, he would go back to being a sommelier.
First, he had to find a theater that would give him a shot. That’s when he ran smack into the Ca n’est pas possible! ("That’s impossible!") French mentality. He approached 50 theaters before he finally found one who would give him a chance.
From the first weeks, he filled that 300-seat theater every night he performed. His show quickly became so popular that he eventually had to move to a bigger theater – the current Théâtre des Nouveautés – where he fills, or nearly fills, the 600-seat theater every night of the week he performs.
What’s next for Giraud? Well, he and his wife just had their first little baby, a daughter. So that has been taking up all of his free time, he says.
In fact, he recounts, the day she was born he had to perform that night, and he was so over-the-moon with joy about becoming a new father that, for the first time ever, he forgot his lines three times during that performance!
His next creative project? In his (sparse) spare time, he's writing a book, How to Become Parisian in One Hour. It's expected to come out sometime in 2016.