French stand-up comedian Gad Elmaleh is so popular in Paris that his latest one-man show Papa est en Haut (“Dad Is Upstairs”) sold out the prestigious L’Olympia (the equivalent of Carnegie Hall) for an unprecedented seven consecutive weeks, then packed the 3,800-seat Les Palais Des Sports for another seven weeks.
He has also starred in many films, including Priceless opposite Audrey Tautou, The Valet, the Holocaust drama The Roundup opposite Jean Reno and Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris.
Elmaleh, who takes the stage Saturday night at the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater, has often been called the “Jerry Seinfeld of French comedy.“ But he’s not entirely sure what Seinfeld thinks of that compliment.
“I did a Web show called “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” that Jerry was hosting,” he recalled. “And he always invites new comedians — he had David Letterman, Chris Rock, Alec Baldwin, Sarah Silverman. And I did an episode, and he introduced me to the American audience by saying, “My guest today is called the Jerry Seinfeld of Comedy in France. I don’t think he’s that funny.”
“And for this joke,” Elmaleh responds today, “I would say to my friend Jerry that he’s very funny.”
If you don’t know more than “bonjour” and “merci beaucoup,” you might want to forgo Elmaleh’s show this time around, as he will perform mostly in French.
“I’m on a tour, and I do small clubs in English and big venues in French,” he said. “There are so many Francophones in the U.S. — from North Africa, France, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa, Middle East, Lebanon — and it’s interesting to me to see them all together, laughing in the same room, because it’s funny, I hope. I mean, I am a comedian.”
Though he’s first and foremost a comic, Elmaleh wasn’t intimidated by the prospect of acting in dramatic films.
“There’s something very funny about serious roles,” he said. “When a comedian is doing a serious part, generally he gets the best reviews that he never had with the comedies. Comedy is a genre that is not very well-respected unless you die [laughs].”
Drama “is not really my cup of tea. I do not want to go back there,” Elmaleh said. “I proved to myself and the industry that I can be serious, but to be really honest, maybe because I’m getting old and I know what I want, I think that if you can do comedy well, it’s great, it’s a gift. So I wanna stay in comedy. I’m a comedian.”
Gad Elmaleh appears 8 p.m. Saturday, The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; LiveNation.com; $58.50-$123.50