From one-man shows to stand-up, the French favor comedian shows

Behind heavyweights like Florence Foresti, Kev Adams and Anne Roumanov, the comedy scene continues to grow in number of shows and audiences. Even if this growth is fragile.

Artists who fill very large rooms, comedy clubs which attract a young audience and social networks which are powerful vectors of advertising: the humor market is doing well, observe the players in the sector, without hiding certain weaknesses. There are those who have been touring for more than ten years and fill convention centers months in advance, like the trio Jeremy Ferrari, Arnaud Tsamère And Baptiste Lecaplain, several dates of which next year are unavailable. Those who are more recent but who are a hit, like Paul Mirabel, whose show By love is complete in 2024 and already scheduled in 2026 for a Zénith tour. Or Redouane Bougheraba, who will follow the Stade velodrome in Marseille (60,000 people), the Accor Arena in Paris and that of Lyon in June. Those also which have been revealed on stage, on television, in the cinema or on YouTube, and which we find in the game Lol, whoever laughs comes out (season 4 of which comes out on February 16 on Prime Video, with Jérôme Commandeur, Marina Foïs, Alison Wheeler, McFly and Carlitoamong others).

Of the “incredible achievements” who attest to“a very strong dynamic at the moment”estimates from AFP Jean-Marc Dumontet, the leading independent producer of shows (humor, theater, etc.) in Paris and France. One of its Parisian rooms, Point Virgule, where Florence Foresti made his debut, “broke attendance records last year, with 90,000 spectators compared to 80,000 to 85,000 previously”, he said. This dynamic is also driven, according to him, by the “comedy clubs that have been set up”, allowing young artists to spend 10 to 15 minutes on stage. It is “a whole ecosystem which is spreading, launching young shoots, becoming professional and opening up places for many people”.

In terms of number of performances offered, in 2023, humor represents 28% of the total volume of music and variety shows, this is considerable

Romain Laleix, deputy general director of the CNM

Thus, there is no shortage of one-man-show and stand-up offerings. On the national level, “the number of declared comedy shows increased by 5.9% between 2019 and 2023, going from 18,659 to 19,759”indicates Romain Laleix, deputy general manager of National Music Center. The CNM, a public organization created four years ago to support the professional music and variety sector (humor, cabarets, musical shows) carries out a study each year on the entertainment economy.

A number to be compared to the growth in live performance of all aesthetics over the same period, which was 19.4%. “In terms of the number of performances offered, in 2023, humor represents 28% of the total volume of music and variety shows, which is considerable”, adds Romain Laleix. As for the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD, which defends their rights), it noted that the new works declared to it each year in one-man shows and sketches increased from 1,400 in 2019 to 1,900 in 2023 .

A success also in the region

Humor has also gained importance in the region. “The climb is truly dizzying” notes Benjamin Dhooge, manager of the Angers comedy club. Created four years ago to welcome beginner comedians, the place had to increase its capacity and now offers a rich program with eleven professional artists and around twenty beginners. “We fill 250 places every Sunday and the artists are paid fees.he explains. There is such a traffic jam of artists in Paris that some come to train in the region with the ambition of making a career in Roman Frayssinet “.

The observation is the same for the Avignon Off Festival, with 147 “humor shows” in 2021, the year of recovery after the Covid crisis, 253 the following year and 342 in 2023, according to figures sent to AFP.

However, some downsides are on the horizon. “Ticket prices remained stable over the period (30 euros on average), which contributes to success with a large audience but also presents a form of fragility given inflation”, underlines Romain Laleix. The sector is held together thanks in particular to subsidies (1.5 million euros each year from the CNM, in support of creation, production and distribution) which are “proportionally more important” than in other categories of live performance, he says.

David Hamelin, vice-president of humor at La Scène independent (private performing arts union), notes that, “on the side of emerging artists, the results are less (compared to headliners)with a more fragile economy”even if “these two categories are not to be opposed”. In a meeting granted to the Mouv’, the stand-upper AZ (real name Azedine Bendjilali) said: “We have much more access to the artistic world thanks to social networks”. Artists publish the best moments of their time on social networks. This is what allows them to gain notoriety in order to climb the ladder.

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