Give Us a Laugh! – | Review Score – 3.5/5
A Successful Touch – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Black Goes With Everything – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Go, Pistachio! – | Review Score – 3/5
A Streetcar Named Nezir – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Good Evening, Olympia… – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The title of creator Fanny Herrero’s new Netflix series, Standing Up (Drôle), denotes not only the burgeoning stand-up scene in France, but also the courage and fortitude required of its entertainers–amateur comics standing up in front of Paris, trying to convince the city to give them a chance.
Ensuing the success of Herrero’s beloved series Call My Agent!, this new French comedy drama similarly draws an intimate portrait of characters from a shared industry. In the case of Standing Up, it’s a diverse group of young voices, each facing their own challenges in order to succeed as stand-up comedians.
There’s Nezir (Younès Boucif), the most talented writer of the group, and with the least to show for it. Bling (Jean Siuen), manager of the Drôle Comedy Club, is crashing after a high point in his stand-up career, sometimes just struggling to get out of bed in the morning.
In contrast, Aïssatou (Mariama Gueye) has just made a breakthrough in the industry–but her success puts a strain on her relationships. And last, there’s Apolline (Elsa Guedj), who wants so badly to become a comedian despite her mother’s opposing sense of propriety.
Ironically for a show that intends to capture the spark of the Parisian live comedy scene, the stand-up fails spectacularly. At first chalked up to a realistic depiction of amateur performers, this excuse falters when one realizes the jokes are meant to land with audiences. And while they certainly don’t–either due to poor English subtitling or a misunderstanding of what constitutes a quality act–the dramedy charms through a multitude of other measures.
That is exceptionally true for the main characters–brought to life by the aforementioned, exceptionally charismatic talent–whose lives encircle a niche subculture of France and yet manage to capture universal human experiences. It’s this gritty authenticity, balanced by a light and easy-going tone (and elevated by an eclectic soundtrack), that makes this French drama so compelling.
Standing Up hearteningly depicts real-life struggles without overdramatisation, if only to disappoint by allowing many of these conflicts to taper off by the season finale. For example, the challenge Aïssa faces–to push the boundaries of what is socially acceptable for the stage–fizzles out in favour of focusing on the comedian’s more clichéd home life.
Although several themes and storylines leave much to be desired, the overall unfinished quality of the 6-episode dramedy opens its doors wide for a second season. There is much yet to explore about Standing Up’s delightful cast of characters, their arresting narratives, and the future of the Drôle.
Verdict - 6.4/10