Published Sep 04, 2016"Who the fuck are you?" Gad Elmaleh imitated the stuck-up girl in a nightclub who suddenly became interested in him after he was approached by a group of excited fans. Many North Americans could easily ask the same question, but in France, Elmaleh is a comedy rock star. He provided the voice for Gru in the French version Despicable Me, his movie Coco was #1 at box offices in Belgium, France and Switzerland, and his standup is wildly popular in French-speaking countries across Europe.
Now determined to conquer America, Elmaleh has been working tirelessly to become completely fluent in English, and is currently performing everywhere from Montreal to Atlanta. In his show, centred around his life as a middle-aged Morrocan French man simultaneously figuring out a new generation and a new culture, Elmaleh impressively proved that his funniness is self-evident no matter what language he performs in.
During his show at Danforth Music Hall that ran well over an hour, and earned a riotous standing ovation, it was easy to see why so many people have dubbed him "the Jerry Seinfeld of France." Elmaleh has a very perceptive eye for subtle observations. Over the course of his amusingly named act Oh My Gad, he analyzed the ridiculousness of the phrase "same difference," talked about how the phrases "I'm down" and "I'm up for it" ironically mean the same thing, and joked that living in Brooklyn for the view of Manhattan is like dating a hot woman's sister in order to have a view of a hot woman.
Though his material was overwhelmingly stellar, it was in his improvisation that Elmaleh really showed off his chops. When someone explained that Mississauga is to Toronto like Sarcelles is to Paris, he ran with it effortlessly. He immediately riffed about how Mississauga sounds both Aboriginal and French, talked about it as if it was a Moroccan dish, and even acted out a Japanese waiter saying the word as he was taking orders. It was amazing to see how sharp Elmaleh was on his feet.
Elmaleh's opener Harrison Greenbaum was also very funny. His material about how the man who got hit by lightning seven times during his life must have felt ended with a great twist, and his ridiculing of a woman in the crowd who didn't speak English yet still bought a ticket to an English show was playfully comical.