Wednesday, November 26, 2014

'Marion Deprez is Gorgeous' at Mimetic Festival, 25th November 2014

Can you be beautiful and funny?  Cast your eyes around the dressing room of the average comedy club and you'll see a dowdy group of distinctly average looking bozos. Is being funny a way for those who'll never grace a catwalk to stand out from the crowd?  After all, if they won't respect you for your lumpy, misshapen body then surely they'll pay bow down to your razorblade wit and pinpoint comedy timing? And if you are beautiful, why make the effort to be funny when people will hang on your every word, no matter what you say?

This question lies at the root of Marion Deprez is Gorgeous, a show as smart as it is frustrating.  You see, Marion Deprez is gorgeous.  From the tips of her toes to the top of her head she's looks like she's stepped off the front of a yé-yé album. Throughout the show she continually strikes 'cutie poses', giving us a sugar-sweet smile and widening her eyes to gaze off at some indeterminate point in the upper right corner of the room.

Watching her is like leafing through a particularly stylish fashion magazine, becoming slowly intoxicated on her confidence, presence and beauty.  She strikes a series of coquettish poses, granting and denying permission for members of the audience to drool over her.  This is all done in a faintly comic hyper-cute French accent, allowing us an easy route to not only adore Deprez, but to fetishise her. 

But then this is supposed to be a comedy show and (in her words): "I don't need to be funny. Men need to be funny all the time.  I'm not funny."  She's (kinda) right, Marion Deprez isn't very funny.  Her miming is half-assed, her anecdotes trail off right before the punchlines and her skits are long-winded and predictable.  This makes for a slightly uncomfortable audience experience.  The laughs are few and far between and when they come, rather polite; some in the audience becoming palpably uncomfortable at this Kaufmanesque anti-humour.

You see, Deprez is being unfunny on purpose.  The idea is that we'll put with an awful amount of shit just because she strikes sweet poses, giggles girlishly and flutters her eyelashes.  It's a sophisticated concept for a routine and slightly brave in that for it to 'work' relies on the audience putting up with something that's purposefully crap.

Tucked away within all the sweetness and light are some rather acidic moments; the best being a moment where she picks someone from the audience she considers beautiful. Telling him to stand up she instructs us to look at him and marvel about how handsome he is; explaining that she wishes a hunk like this could be her boyfriend.  Then she asks him to take his top off.  Understandably he bridles at the prospect so Deprez shoots back the tart one-liner: "you're just not used to being objectified like me."

This cuts to the quick of what Deprez is getting at.  While "I don't need to be funny" could be considered a plus, it cuts both ways.  When she is being funny people still gaze on adoringly; preoccupied with the plumpness of her lips rather than the words that trip from them. 

What's most frustrating about this is that she's absolutely right, and I know this because I was doing that exact thing.  Frankly I would have enjoyed watching her read the phone book, and I was more than prepared to tolerate some shitty sketches purely because the person skipping through them was attractive. 

It's an odd experience to end a show feeling disappointed with your own shallowness, but that's what Marion Deprez is going for.  In those terms it's an unreserved success, but one that's more intellectual than actually funny. 

Marion Deprez is Gorgeous is at Mimetic Festival on the 26, 27, 28, 29, November 2014 Time: 8:20:pm. Tickets £9.50 available here.

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