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Sunday, April 22, 2012

“Oh the Cow!” (Funny French TV)

So maybe it’s just my way of rationalizing the amount of time I’ve been spending online at night, but I have found the most hilarious French sitcom on youtube (it's not wasting time if I'm learning French, right?). Actually “sitcom” is probably the wrong term....it’s not the kind where you hear the audience laughing in the background. In my case you just hear yourself cracking up on the couch (to the consternation of my husband who is simultaneously trying to get real work done next to me...).

It is called “Platane” and stars Eric Judor, who apparently is already a well known comedian who had a successful run with a show called “Eric et Ramzy” and is now venturing out on his own. And essentially, that is also the storyline of this show. The first episode consists of Eric, playing himself, pitching an idea for a new comedy at a press conference-followed-by-party after which, completely drunk, he crashes into a tree (“se payer un platane” means “to crash into a tree” per wordreference.com) on the way home. During his several weeks of convalescence he experiences an awakening and decides his work needs to follow a more meaningful path, so he determines to shake off his comedic persona and direct a “serious” film. I haven’t followed its plot too well (it involves a singer learning she is a descendant of Edith Piaf ) as it is only the backdrop to the main story of the show which is his journey to getting it produced.

And that is the funny backbone as Eric employs endless cheating tactics that keep coming back to bite him. For instance, in Episode 4 where he pretends to be an environmentalist in order to lure nature loving star Monica Bellucci into the lead role, but when a real activist stops at his car window as he waits at a red light, Eric is annoyed when the guy puts a sticker of support on his cashmere sweater. The guy tells him to relax, it will come out in the wash, and Eric rips a piece of his guy’s jacket off and replies “relax, it will come out in the wash”. Retribution is inevitable when Monica invites Eric to be the keynote speaker at an environmental conference that evening, attended by the assaulted activist.

I’m not sure if I am finding it so funny because my French is better, or my cultural awareness has improved, or if the format of French comedy has become more American in style (it kind of reminds me of Seinfeld in the way the pieces all fit together). I just have this strong memory of not understanding French humor when I lived there and I am extremely proud of my growing ability get the joke!

I just realized my posts are starting to contain more adult-focused content. Let me think about how this is helping me be a better French teacher to Zach. Definitely not from my increased comfort with words like “putain” and “t’es chiante” which abound in the series (why is it when you swear in a foreign language you don’t feel like it’s all that offensive and is therefore overly tempting to do?). But we as a family have officially embraced Eric’s favorite expression: “Oh, la Vache!”- which I understand to be sort of the equivalent of a both positive and negative “oh my God” (by the way, I don’t mean any religious offense in my English translation of what would literally by “oh the cow!”)

I highly recommend "Platane" for French language comic relief. If you want to start at the beginning of the series, go here and then you should be able to link to later episodes (until it is removed from youtube for copyright infringement; by the way, if there is a legitimate way for me to access this content, can someone let me know?)

Oh la vache! It’s so late - bonne nuit!

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