The 7 Best French Comedians You Should Be Watching
France might be ready to add another thing to its list of popular attractions: talented comedians.
While it isn’t quite as big as that in America or England, the French stand-up scene is growing. And it has some comic legends worth getting to know.
Les humoristes (comedians) in France like their props, sketches and impressions. And if you like physical comedy, French comedians specialize in it.
So get ready to watch the hours go by with routine after routine. Here are the top seven French comedians you need to know.
And, as a bonus, colleagues on our FluentU French YouTube channel have created some fun French lessons featuring the stand up of Kevin Razy and Paul Mirabel:
- 1. Gad Elmaleh
- 2. Florence Foresti
- 3. Baptiste Lecaplain
- 4. Dany Boon
- 5. Malik Bentalha
- 6. Coluche
- 7. Muriel Robin
1. Gad Elmaleh
Gad Elmaleh is a French-Moroccan stand-up comedian and actor with international fame. He’s multilingual, performing in French, Arabic, Hebrew and English. Known for his improvising style, he provides an interactive show based on the audience’s reactions and real-time happenings while on stage.
Elmaleh is often called the “Seinfeld of France,” and even appeared on Jerry Seinfeld’s show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” in 2013.
He’s been acting since 1996 and can be seen in both English-language films such as “Midnight in Paris” and French films such as “Coco” and “Hors de prix” (“Priceless”). You can find him on Netflix in his 2018 English-language special “American Dream” and the series “Huge in France,” where he plays a French comedian who moves to Los Angeles to be closer to his estranged son.
Or catch him on the French reality show “LOL, qui rit, sort !” where he’s one of ten actors and comedians competing to be the last to laugh.
2. Florence Foresti
Florence Foresti is a French comedian and actress with more than 20 years in the industry. Her stand-up routines cover topics such as kids, pregnancy, romance and the everyday problems we go through. With her voices and gestures, she’s energetic on the stage and addictive to watch.
She can be seen in many films and series, including the 2022 comedy series Désordres, which she created and stars in as herself. The series follows her life off-stage as a single mother, an artist and a public figure trying to keep it together. It’s a hilarious parody of her day-to-day life and will give you a look at French culture while making you laugh.
If you’re in France, you can catch Foresti at a performance of her one-woman show “Boys, boys, boys” which she’s currently touring around the country.
3. Baptiste Lecaplain
From the younger crowd of comedians, we’ve got Baptiste Lecaplain. His approach is more direct and modern, though he always seems to be…sweaty. But to be fair, he does jump around and yell a lot.
Since leaving his job to pursue a career in comedy in 2006, Lecaplain has toured around France many times and sold out numerous shows. He continues to tour and can be seen at venues throughout the country or online.
In addition to his stand-up, Lecaplain has appeared in various TV series and films. In 2014, he starred in the French comedy “Libre et Assoupi” (“Nice and Easy”) as well as the French drama “Le beau monde” (“High Society”).
It may sound a bit random, but he also did a great short film for road safety in France.
4. Dany Boon
While Dany Boon is now known as an actor, director, screenwriter and producer, he started out as a comedian in the 1990s. His stand-up comedy is a bit bizarre and highly entertaining.
In his routines, he stays in character for a lot of his sketches: guys in prison, a man on his wedding day, someone learning to read. He often does strange things like performing in the dark at the beginning of his shows.
You can witness Boon’s talents in writing, acting and directing in the films “Raid dingue” (“R.A.I.D. Special Unit”), which won a César Award (the French Oscars) and “La Vie pour de vrai” (“Life for Real”), where his character returns to Paris in search of his childhood love.
Bringing him recognition in the U.S., he plays Inspector Delacroix in “Murder Mystery 2” starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler.
5. Malik Bentalha
Of Moroccan and Algerian decent, Malik Bentalha doesn’t shy away from ripping on his own (and other) cultures. He’s been known on the comedy scene since 2010 and has acted in many French films. He’s also worked in radio and television over the years.
He was brought to the spotlight with the help of Gad Elmaleh−on the day they met, Elmaleh asked him to do the opening act for his show the following day!
Bentalha is brash and covers controversial topics sometimes, which seems to add to his appeal for his fans.
In 2018, he starred in the French films “Taxi 5” and “Le doudou” (“Looking for Teddy”). He also released a podcast with Europe1. The last episodes are from 2013 but are still worth a listen if you want more of Bentalha.
Coluche is a household name in France. He was a beloved French stage comedian and cinema actor, and in 1986 he sadly passed away in a motorcycle accident at the age of 41.
Coluche was known for his regular use of profanities, which at the time was relatively new in French television, and was even fired from two French radio stations for it. Along with some vulgarity, his material incorporated his irreverent attitude towards French politics and the establishment.
In addition to bringing laughs to the French nation, he also ran for president in 1981, won a César and started a fantastic charity, Les Restos du Cœur, that provides clothes and food for les SDF (the homeless).
Watching Coluche isn’t just about a laugh, but an important part of French cultural and entertainment history.
To get the full story on the legendary Coluche, give this documentary on YouTube a whirl.
7. Muriel Robin
Muriel Robin is an award-winning French actress and comedian. While she stopped performing comedy in 2000 to focus on filmmaking, her older routines are worth a watch.
In her years as a comedian she took to the stage with props, her loud and vibrant persona and jokes that just keep coming and coming. She did a lot of voices and sketches, with a little bit for everyone in her performances.
For more of Robin’s comedy skills, check out the film “Marie-Line,” where she plays a cleaning supervisor in a supermarket. It’s funny, full of life and it got her a César nomination.
Her shift to films proved successful, and in 2007 she won an International Emmy Award for Best Actress for her role as Marie Besnard in the French-Belgian drama “Marie Besnard, l’empoisonneuse“ (“The Poisoner”). But her comedy days live on thanks to the internet!
While there are many more popular and emerging French comedians, these are some of the best ones to watch from France’s past and current comedy scene.
Like their wine and cheese, French comedy can’t be missed. So whether you’re living in France or just interested in French culture and comedy, start watching these comedians and enjoy the endless laughs.