after “Ten percent”, Fanny Herrero unveils “Funny” on Netflix

Fanny Herrero tells BFMTV the genesis of this new Netflix series, a tender and hilarious portrait of the young Parisian comedy scene.

How do you become Jamel Debbouze, Florence Foresti or Blanche Gardin? How many half-empty halls do you have to convince before landing on the Olympia stage? The answer takes shape with humor and tenderness this Friday on Netflix with Funnyfiction in six episodes which follows a band of young stand-uppers in their dreams of glory.

Nezir, the suburbanite who winks as he breathes, Aïssatou, the young mother torn between work and family life, Apolline, the rich kid who discovers a new passion, and Bling, the fallen star: these young comic aspirants, embodied by endearing actors gravitate around the Funny, a small Parisian bar where they perform hoping to see their careers take off.

At the helm of this new program, the one who signed one of the greatest French television successes of recent years: Fanny Herrero, creator of Ten percent, the series which makes laugh as far as America and which sees adaptations flourishing in the four corners of the globe. After the hushed atmosphere of star agencies in the 8th arrondissement, she takes us to the shabby bars of the capital, to the genesis of success.

“We stay behind the scenes of an artistic profession”, she underlines for BFMTV. “I wanted to be on the side of the artists, of these young people between 25 and 30 who are starting out, who have a vocation for stand-up. This time, we are not on the red carpets: we are in the cellars, with people who struggle, at a time in their lives where everything begins.”

On a suggestion of… Gad Elmaleh

It was during a chance meeting that the idea was born. A few years ago, Fanny Herrero met Gad Elmaleh through their common agent in the United States. They have dinner together, and the comedian talks to the screenwriter about the effervescence around the comedy clubs which are multiplying in Paris. Unfamiliar with the milieu, Fanny Herrero decides to attend a “plateau” – a one-hour scene, during which six comedians follow one another. An experience she describes as a “shock”:

“Everyone came to make jokes about their life experience. They were all between 20 and 35 years old and they all came from different places, they had different skin colors, different social, geographical, cultural origins… I had a kind of photograph of French youth, there, on this little stage, which upset me a little. You don’t see that anywhere: this intimacy, this vivacity of spirit, this singularity, this diversity on the stage, this need to exist. The six I had seen on stage that night, I already wanted to take things from them to make characters out of them.”

A little closer to the stand-uppers

To transform this “professional-love at first sight” with the young comic scene into a soap opera, Fanny Herrero begins an immersion work: “With my co-author Hervé Lassïnce, we met a lot of stand-uppers, we frequented a lot comedy clubs and watching documentaries.” They surround themselves with Marina Rolls and Jason Brokerstwo figures from the emerging scene, who acted as consultants on the program: “They told us a lot about their daily lives, their ambitions, their doubts, the obstacles they have to overcome”.

So many anecdotes that feed the fabric of Funny. In six episodes, the series presents a range of questions facing aspiring comedians: the odd jobs to offset the meager income of stand-up, the misunderstanding of loved ones, the risk of having their jokes stolen, the lucrative opportunities that forced to remain in the shadows… but also much more current issues, in an ever more politicized show business: how to get your ideas across while making people laugh, and above all without attracting the wrath of part of the public?

This last question echoes those of Fanny Herrero, who wants to put diversity at the heart of her work. Not to tell the differences, but simply to make them exist. She did it with the homosexual character of Andrea in Ten percentand it is with the same approach that she directed the casting of Funny:

Funny follows these characters in their daily lives, probes their humanity, but they are not determined by their identity”, she explains to Telerama. “Aïssatou is black, her companion too, but we are not going to tell the story of their ancestors (…) Nezir and his father, with whom he lives, are Muslims. But that is not the subject. we know, we show it, period. Perhaps in the future this element of the scenario will be able to generate other intrigues, but for the moment staging them, making them heroes like the others, is already a gesture politics in itself.

new faces

All these questions are addressed by a cast of young actors almost unknown to the general public. They come from the theater, and even from music, like the rapper Younès Boucif who plays Nezir… but never from stand-up. A will displayed by the team:

“We wanted people to immediately believe in the characters,” explains the designer to BFMTV. “If we had chosen stand-uppers who already existed, with their image and their reputation, they would have arrived carrying something with them. Ten percent, where we had two or three stars per episode. I practiced the mixture of true and false a lot and I wanted to change. For that, I needed people that no one knows.”

Even if it means having to redouble our efforts to make them into convincing stand-uppers, as explained by actress Elsa Guedj, who plays Apolline: “About a month before we started filming, we worked with Shirley Souagnon (comedian, actress and co-writer of Funny, note). We each had stand-up passages written by the stand-uppers who participated in the writing of the series, and we organized sets at the Barbès Comedy Club. We passed in the middle of real comedians, and we had appointments with Shirley to work on each of our passages.

“We also had a coach, which was a luxury,” adds Younès Boucif. “We really had time to work before filming. To be a stand-upper is to open up and tell your life. The more you feel it’s real, the more touching it is, and the more it makes you laugh. What I was looking to achieve was for it to be funny and for it to feel as natural as possible.”