The Linguist

The Linguist 53,1

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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12 The Linguist FEBRUARY/MARCH FEATURES • The International Comedy Club will be bringing German language shows to London's Comedy Café, as well as continuing their popular French nights: • El Carnaval de la Comedia offers Spanish stand-up in London: • French nights at the Comedy Store continue, including two dates in November as part of a Francophone comedy festival: Comedy in your language After nine years in the Loire Valley, Ian Moore was still struggling to learn French… so he decided to do a comedy gig in the language, he tells Miranda Moore When I go to see Ian Moore at the Comedy Store, two weeks after the British comic's first ever set in French, he ends the night with a routine about his life in the Loire Valley, where he has lived for the last nine years. What he says is: 'I've made no effort with the language whatsoever.' It doesn't bode well for our interview the next day, which, unsurprisingly, will focus on his experiences with French. But let's allow him some comedic licence. An uncompromising mod who insists on wearing sharp suits and cravats in the depths of rural France, Moore has built up a cache of material around miscommunication and cultural clashes. 'I have an eight-year-old. He translates for me. He comes everywhere with me,' he pauses. 'He's not mine but he's very useful.' Later we learn about an accident in which Moore's car flipped over with him at the wheel. 'I did French at school. We had the Tricolore book,' he says. 'Well, back me up on this, François was never in a car crash, was he? I can order a cheese sandwich in La Rochelle, but there's no vocabulary for dealing with paramedics.' When a local man came over and asked if he was alright, Moore replied 'Et vous?' He chuckles: 'Because Tricolore was polite, wasn't it?' We meet the following morning in nearby Covent Garden for a coffee at a quiet 'British bakery'. It seems an apt venue. In his autobiography, À La Mod, Moore discloses the many ways in which he has struggled to adapt to the French 'ways', having moved to the country with his French-British wife Natalie just before the birth of their second son. So has he really made no effort? 'I've tried so many things – watching my favourite films with English subtitles, reading French newspapers…' he admits off-stage. He got a C at O-level and later did an adult education to be understood,' he says. 'But it was a really good comedy gig.' He still seems surprised. Moore rehearsed alone in front of hotel mirrors – something he never does in English – first learning the script, then how to perform it. He had a recurring nightmare in which the audience didn't understand him and he forgot the entire set. 'It was more nerve-racking the more I did it. It was like before an exam, when you walk with a stiff head in case something falls out,' he says. 'I felt like I was putting myself in a position to fail and, quite often in this job, you're on a knife's edge as it is. I didn't see how I could win.' Through his comedy, he has made a virtue of this typically English diffidence, but it was something he struggled with when it came to writing in another language. 'The biggest difference between French and English comedy is a lot of British humour is self- deprecating but French isn't,' he explains. The French are more comfortable with pride, and, although Moore is clearly pleased with the French gig, he will only allow that his son Samuel was 'really proud' of it. 'In the Stand-up for French course, but after a few years in France, he realised that he needed to work harder at it. He was still avoiding talking to locals and struggling at family gatherings. 'I can understand but I'm not quick enough to respond. Then you're out of the game, like falling off a roundabout: there's no way to get back on,' he explains. 'Natalie's family finds it frustrating because they know what I do for a living but that side of my character doesn't come out. I can't be me, if you like.' Working the British comedy circuit meant he was spending half of his time in the UK, while at home he continued to speak to Natalie and the boys in English. When he suggested a weekly French-only day, the response was 'crushing'. Samuel, his oldest, replied: 'But daddy, when you're home we want to understand you.' 'I needed a kick up the backside for learning the language. I needed a deadline,' he tells me. A 10-minute stand-up slot in French seemed ideal. So, I ask gingerly, how did it go? 'I went in there with no real expectations of comedic success. I just wanted LIFE IN THE LOIRE Ian with Natalie and their three sons

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