Florence Foresti, above, is my favorite comedienne française. Jerry Seinfeld is my favorite American comedian. I like going back and forth between them, as each side brings out the freshness of the other side. After the wonderful, raunchy screeching of Foresti, it is a relief to watch the gentle, kind Seinfeld for a while. But after watching Seinfeld for a while, I’m ready for the raw reality of Foresti. I love the French for their gritty raw attitudes, and I love the Americans for their niceness, but too much of either is a bit much.
One of the things that I love about Foresti is the clever, sophisticated way in which she manages to be raunchy while being civilized. In this piece on Paris Hilton, she is appearing on a sophisticated French literature and culture show which typically has as guests leading writers and thinkers. And she doesn’t literally say anything that is offensive to a polite audience; but the double entendres are outrageous! I love the one about “sous cellophane” (pronounced “sue sell o fan” and meaning “cellophane”), the phonetic of that in french could also come across as “sucer les fans” (pronounced “susay lay fan” and meaning “sucking the fans,” i.e., the audience). But of course there is nothing wrong with being under cellophane, is there Paris, you busy one?
I love each of my three cultures for the way in which they freshen me for another. When I am in the U.S., I long to return home to Senegal after a while. But then after being a while in Senegal, I’m ready to return to the U.S. After when I’ve been gone from France for too long (or Tahiti, my other “French” home away from home), I really need a dose of French culture, French food, French lifestyle – and the raw vulgarity of French humor.
It is funny – the French are in one sense the most civilized culture on earth; they have established the standards for many aspects of decorum and etiquette. And yet in day-to-day life, they use salacious jokes, cuss… Do you see President Obama, or even ex President George W. Bush saying “piss off, asshole” to an angry citizen refusing to shake hand? Well, that is what Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, did at the Agriculture Tradeshow a few years ago (see video clip below). It really cracks me up how he has these big fake smiles and as similarly fake little innocent voice saying “bonjour” here, and “bonjour, monsieur” there . . . until the beast gets provoked and his true face comes out…