A Successful Touch
Episode 2 of Standing Up (Drôle) begins with Aïssatou and Nezir getting food. Nezir secretly calls Bling to tell him he can’t work for him this evening. He has plans to work with Aïssa. They plan to work tomorrow. He lies to Aïssa that he’s working at a food service job.
When they approach the venue, Aïssa is shocked to see the line of people waiting for her show. After the show, Nezir plays at the Drôle.
At Drôle, Apolline is in the audience again, where she takes notes on the acts. After, she sees Nezir at the bar and asks him about how he started in comedy and what his comedic process is. The bartender interrupts, noting that Apolline often comes to take notes, which she shouldn’t be doing.
She swears to Nezir she’s not a joke thief; comedy just interests her. Nezir laughs, but doesn’t say much.
Apolline goes home, where she lives with her aristocratic parents. She lies to them about where she was.
Aïssa meets with Laurent, who represents her. Laurent plans for her to perform at a major venue–the same one where he used to book Bling. Aïssa runs into Bling outside, and she leaves without telling him the news.
Bling asks for another chance with Laurent. After much convincing, Laurent decides he’ll take a look at Bling’s new material in two months. So, Nezir meets with Bling later to start working on material with him, but he doesn’t offer much inspiration.
At their child’s school, Vlad agonizes that everyone knows about Aïssa’s act and is judging him. He calls her selfish for sacrificing him for her job, but she reminds him of everything she’s sacrificed for him. She’s proud that her comedy is deconstructing social norms.
Apolline shows up to Drôle to apply for an open mic slot, though she’s never performed. Bling tells her to come by again, but to bring people, otherwise the room will be empty.
At home, she practices her act. Her mom almost catches her, but she lies to say she’s preparing her art history presentation for school. Later, Apolline and her parents meet with Nathaniel Walsh to try and secure and internship for Apolline.
Bling is unreliable and doesn’t keep to the schedule he and Nezir set. So Nezir eventually insists on no more meetings. He’ll send him material from now on, which Bling agrees to.
Vlad tells Aïssa it’s best if she doesn’t come to his thesis defence. He’s afraid people will recognize her and be reminded of her act. Aïssa is upset; she’s rearranged her schedule, but she agrees.
Bling doesn’t like Nezir’s notes. He thinks he’s making fun of him, but Nezir tries to make him understand he’ll be making fun of himself. Bling wants to talk about girls (likely in keeping with his misogynistic style), so Nezir asks him for details about girls he knows. He still doesn’t cooperate.
Aïssa later has an interview with Konbini at the Drôle. Bling overhears when she mentions her slot at the Palais des Glaces–his old slot. He storms in, accusing her of stealing it when he is the reason she got her start.
Nezir finds Apolline outside the club at Newbie Comedy Hour. She tells him she’s going to perform. Nezir gives her advice before she goes on. She keeps fiddling with her bracelet nervously, so she gives it to him to hold on to.
She starts crying before she even starts, then runs off before Nezir can return the bracelet.
Bling intensely watches Aïssa perform at the Drôle that night. He decides to go on after her. Corinne and Nezir try to stop him.
Nezir makes a joke about Bling’s sneakers right before Bling makes the same joke in his act. This causes Aïssa to look strangely at Nezir. Bling’s act goes over well, though Aïssa doesn’t admire him any more for it.
Nezir says she’s being harsh with him, and Aïssa laughs. She says she knows he’s writing for him, and he can do better. He asks her not to tell anyone.
Aïssa shows up at the after party to Vlad’s thesis. When she gets there, people ask for tickets to her future performances. Vlad tenses up.
Nezir goes to Apolline’s house, where her mother greets him at the door. He says he’s there to return her bracelet. Apolline makes an excuse that she forgot it in his Uber.
Apolline asks how he found her, and he says she heard her give her address to a cab. Her mom gives him a tip, and Apolline shuts the door in his face. The episode ends with Nezir going on a food delivery run.
The Episode Review
The tension between Aïssa and Vlad/Bling escalates. Aïssa, strangely, is not so worried. While she sees herself as dismantling the patriarchy through her comedy, she seems naive to the obstacles she’ll have to face by being a woman who’s trying to excel in a man’s world.
Aïssa has a compelling storyline on her own, but it’s the underdogs Nezir and Apolline who demand one’s interests. Nezir’s quiet suffering, self-deprecation, and humble wit. Apolline’s suffocated talent, ambition, and charm. The two of them step cautiously through life, never expecting to receive anything from the world–and that makes us want their success all the more.
I’m now positive the stand-up scenes are suffering from lack of a good French-English translator. But these characters breathe life into the show on their own, whether those one liners hit or they don’t.