DOROTHEE PARTERRE organizes an open mic night at the Flore where modern day French minds and pens, (dead and alive) return to their literary Mecca to deliver a meta form of comedy the city hasn’t seen in years.

In between time spent writing this monthly column and penning my new book I’m Dorothée Parterre, and you’re so far from being me, yours truly has also been dabbling in les arts vivants, going even as far as to host a comedy night at the Flore. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why would I, DoPA, the literary tour de force and Ph.D.’d Cleopatra, deign to wade into the dismal waters of Parisian comedy, an area usually dominated by mediocre talent and pornographic minds.

It’s because I can say I.

It’s also because I’m tired of the cavernous divide that separates the salon from the boulevard, where on one side, you have intellectuals interested more in putting out cigarettes in their arms, and on the other, Guillaume Musso reading Spartans only capable of addressing subjects like “les meufs font ça et les mecs font ça.” Hailing from a country where comedy comes from Harvard and Berkeley, I’ve always wondered why Paris had lost its Voltaire form of drole and, more importantly, how it could win it back. Hence the idea for an open mic, one where modern day French minds and pens, (dead and alive) could return to their literary Mecca and deliver a meta form of comedy the city hasn’t seen in years.

Many around me though were less than thrilled by the idea. Associating the DoPA brand with an open mic they felt was akin to serving a 30-year-old Glenmorangie with Coke Zero. Even the yin to my yang, the Thursday to my Friday, Catherine Baba, weighed in with warning. “When people like Jacques Vergès are doing stand up Dot, it’s safe to say the whole thing has jumped the shark.” I disagreed with Babs on the Vergès point, arguing the attorney’s entire career was one big piece of performance art, and that the comedy he’d done at the end the of his life, simply the digestive.

Now before we go any further, I will ask those who haven’t understood any of these jokes to politely leave the column immediately. To properly appreciate the night in question requires the ability to swim in deeper water, and this time, I don’t plan on handing out life vests.

That said, yes, the night was a huge success. Among all of those contacted, only the author Céline was unable able to attend. Luckily, Éric Zemmour performed in his place, and frankly, the “Z-man’s” impersonation of the Death on the Installment Plan author was dead on, if not a bit unsettling.

Jacques LaCan’s (or Jackie as he now called himself) performance was less easy to grasp, especially if you weren’t familiar with the ex- psychiatrist’s unorthodox delivery, one which featured LaCan abruptly stopping his monolog after three or four minutes, walking off stage and leaving the Flore entirely. By the time the audience had realized what was going on, the founder of the “mirror stage theory” would reappear, asking if the jokes he’d told had sunk in yet. This novel twist was hilarious at first, but after the fourth or fifth exit, most in the crowd were hoping Jacques had left for good.

The other Jacques, Jacques Derrida, arrived on stage with a t-shirt saying, “Deconstruct this” on the front and an arrow pointing towards his crotch. Introducing himself as the comedic Daft Punk (an allusion perhaps to the better reception Derrida had had in the US) the author of Heidegger and the Question served up a truly deconstructionist performance with jokes that began with a punch line and finished with a setup. To give an example, Derrida would begin by muttering a phrase “On their Marriage,” then deliver a question like “When do you congratulate a person on a horrible mistake?” Unfortunately, some in the audience had seen some of the philosopher’s earlier shows, and rudely repeated the jokes back to him.

Derrida wasn’t the only one heckled. Michael Foucaultencountered an ugly group who’d come to see Jean-Pierre Foucault instead. Visibly upset their favorite TV host would not be appearing, the JPF fans routinely interrupted Foucault’s monolog with shouts like “We’d rather hear you interview Miss France asshole!” The post-structuralist philosopher and author of The Order of Things did his best; delivering jokes about his dick and how he would have “broken” YouPorn and the dating ap grinder had they existed in his day, jokes which probably would have worked in a normal setting, but when shouted by an aging bald man over an angry crowd, sounded more aggressive than funny and ultimately doomed Michel to a silent exit.

The night’s headliner was, of course, Sigmund Freud aka “Doc Siggy Freud” who’d recently branched into stand-up saying the art form appealed to him and had replaced Pilates as the new replacement for psychotherapy. Calling the act of referring to oneself in the third person “the zenith of narcissism,” the former neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis delivered probably the funniest line of the night when he quipped. “You know the one person who doesn’t think referring to himself in the third person is narcissistic? Sigmund Freud – that’s who!”

Anybody following Freud would have had a difficult time, but Jacques Attali’s performance was epically bad. When the former Conseiller d’État introduced himself as “Hi, I’m Jacques Attali, le grand penseur” everyone laughed hysterically, which Attali hadn’t intended to be funny. With ego hurt and timing fractured, the former professeur d’économie stammered, forgot his lines, and eventually stared into the void, which of course provoked many in the crowd to assume he’d branched into hypnosis.

The night took odd turns after that. Rene Girard came out as a bearded woman, the Grand-Rabbi Gilles Bernheim told jokes everyone had seen Gilles Deleuze perform on YouTube three years ago, and Patrick Modiano mumbled his entire sketch with lines like (“C’est… Comment dire? c’est comme si… Enfin je…”) to the point where nobody was sure if it was intentional or not, nor did anyone really care.

To close out the night, Alain Badiou, a last minute addition, took the mic, and with a soft voice delivered what many felt to be the most meta sketch of them all. The author of theThéorie de la contradiction began citing the problem with the Greek tradition of philosophy, how it never really dealt with beings themselves as plural nor thought in terms of multiplicity. With the Flore silent and unsure where he was going with all this, Badiou continued, describing society’s notion of « being » as a singular one; meaning the “it is thought in terms of the “one” which drew no laughs, only nervous chuckles and eye rolls. It wasn’t until Badiou proposed a solution to this impasse with the punch line “the one is not,” did the crowd fully grasp the intended joke and laugh hysterically. At which point, Badiou dropped the mic, stepped off stage, and pumped his chest to a collective wesh-wesh from the Flore.

And it was then that I realized the gap between the boulevard and the salon, at least for one night, had been bridged by a four-meter stage on the first floor of the Flore. Hopefully next year, you too can join us, and hopefully by then, Jacques LaCan will have returned from his walk around the block.

Until then, tootles, enchantage, and onwards comme d’hab’.

yours truly,

DoPA

French version – click below

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