Marcel Lucont Is | Review by Steve Bennett © Adam Robertson
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Marcel Lucont Is

Review by Steve Bennett

Adopting a status higher than Mont Blanc, philosopher, poet, lover and bon vivant Marcel Lucont Is here to spend the best part of his hour on his two favourite subjects: himself, and how much better than you he is.

The condescending Frenchman is too sophisticated to adopt the vulgar urgent rhythms of most British stand-ups, instead posturing virtually stock-still, nursing a glass of fine red, as he slowly intones his precisely-observed, derisory comments about the Brits – each followed by a careful look around the room as if to say, ‘Tell me I’m not right.’

Indeed, his weary, uncomprehending dispatches about what he’s seen around the country strike a chord, especially his comments about over-applied make-up on the women of Scotland and Northern England, which ends with a lovely pay-off. His experiences of music festivals are presented as if a Wilfred Owen war poem, complete with hilarious video of filthy, drunken behaviour amid the mud and Portaloos.

Verse is but one ingredient in his comic larder; as he presents a book of poetry so substantial it makes Proust look like a pamphlet, before reading us some extracts. Later, there’s also a coupe of passages from his fictional autobiography, Moi, written with the modest detachment you would expect, i.e. none. But even in stand-up, Lucont’s words have a literary sophistication, so the writing works well in different formats.

The serious, sombre delivery can sometimes slow down the laughs, but also increases their intensity when they do come. The trade-off does dim the energy a little, so a couple of flatter moments drag in their indulgence, but mostly the punchlines shine without any presentational trickery. The writing here is often impeccable, with a slick efficiency of words expressing astute sentiment, sometimes ironic, sometimes not.

One attempt to brighten the delivery comes in a song about food technology reducing our diet to chemicals, and other than a change of tone and an admirable display of memory, it doesn’t match up to the usual Gallic scorn. And a Q&A doesn’t quite take off because of the quality of the questions, although Lucont can clearly improvise around them. But a deceptively simple video towards the end demonstrates a divide between the French and the British that would seem unbridgeable.

However, the funniest thing about Lucont’s show this year hasn’t happened on stage, but online, thanks to the rookie reviewer who got on her feminist high mare to complain about his flagrant sexism and shameless book-plugging without either understanding he’s a character, or apparently even the concept of character. Perhaps that’s some testament to how completely creator Alexis Dubus inhabits his snooty alter-ego.

Review date: 17 Aug 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Dome

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