His provocative humor and numerous impersonations make him one of France’s favorite comedians. Élie Semoun was recently in French Polynesia for a show called À Partager (For Sharing). This performer, under the charm of our islands and Polynesian people, shared several videos of his stay on Facebook as well as a photo of his Air Tahiti Nui airline ticket. This was enough to make his fellow comedians in Paris jealous.
Is this your first time in French Polynesia?
Yes. I was anticipating a décor just like a postcard and I must admit that I was not at all disappointed. It is even more beautiful than a postcard since it is real.
What were your first impressions?
My first impression: sunburn! (He laughs). However, in Tahiti I was able to live one of my dreams, which was to dive with sharks. I also went into a valley with a kind of mini tropical forest and waterfalls everywhere. It was magnificent.
There are landscapes, but did you also have interesting encounters with the locals?
Yes. I find Tahitians to be super nice and friendly. The women are beautiful. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I felt that this was an uninhibited society, much less repressed than French society.
However, it is rumored that you were very stressed out with the idea of performing in front of a Polynesian audience?
Like all artists who perform in a foreign country or somewhere far from home, I was apprehensive. One thing I worry about is if we have the same references. However, things went by like a charm with two very successful evenings. I was freed up and relieved. My butterflies and doubts disappeared.
Why such pressure?
I was afraid people would not get my sense of humor. After all, it is a little trashy. Besides, humor is difficult to export. At the end of the day, when something is funny, it is funny everywhere. This is what I should have told myself before getting on stage! On the other hand, it is true that I allude to brands and logos with which I feel Polynesian audiences may not be familiar with. Everything else was great. Thanks to television, everyone knows what is going on in Paris and in Brussels. References to the news are the same everywhere. I have no idea why I was so anxious. Here, I sensed kindness and deep appreciation.
Did you bring a local flair to the show?
I put in a little bit of local material, but not too much. I had thought about it during my preparations for the two evenings. Finally, I told myself that if people came to see me, it was for who I was and what I had to offer: a little bit French and a little bit Parisian. Why speak to them of Tahiti, when it could risk coming across as not genuine? I preferred to stay true to myself with the show I performed all throughout France.
You spoke of a postcard-like decor and your performance took place on a motu (islet) under the open sky…
The Intercontinental Hotel is a magnificent site with a stage under the open sky; however, it was a huge challenge for me since I had to keep the audience’s attention. Everything seemed all over the place with all the senses, sounds and lights…it was a little complicated, but I managed to capture the audience.
Has this first visit to French Polynesia made you want to come back and explore this destination more?
Yes, of course…and I will return next time with much less apprehension. I purchased a black pearl. There you have it. I am touched forever now.
The show is called À Partager (For Sharing). What did you share with Polynesians?
My joy of living and I hope my generosity as an artist. However, it is especially the Polynesian public who shared their time with me. Just like I say during my shows: “it gives me joy to give and joy to receive.”
Interview complied by Alexandra Sigaudo-Fourny with Radio 1