How to write standing Up inconsistently funny solo

How to write standing Up is a solo show where Phoenix Atala explains the rules of comedy while storytelling his private life. He describes the step by step method of how to make a show: the best way to find an idea, meet with curators and master writing techniques.
Sometimes the rules of comedy are applied, sometimes they’re broken.
Sometimes the jokes are funny, sometimes they fail.

« Tonight you are going to attend a different kind of stand up comedy routine, the kind where laughing is not the main goal, Tonight I would like to lead a reflection on comedy, the research of ideas, and effectiveness.”

lenght : 45 mn

Excecutive Production : Situation Comédie

A performance commissioned by The Pompidou Center and funded by Ministère de la Culture (DICREAM)

Le Mouv’ (4/28/2015) - "A "mise en abîme" that hits the spot." Augustin Arrivé (not yet translated)
Theatrorama (4/18/2015) - "He shows with talent that feat of strength comes from defeating strength" Cathia Engelbach (not yet translated)
Date City Venue
15/01/18 - 16/01/18 Los Angeles, CA Human Resources
14/10/17 Paris La Gaïté Lyrique
19/01/17 - 20/01/17 Bordeaux Le Carré des Colonnes
15/10/16 Nanterre Théâtre des Amandiers
13/10/16 Chateau-Thierry L’Echangeur CDC
11/06/16 Paris College des Bernardins
03/06/16 Gennevilliers T2G
29/01/16 Marseille festival Parallele
02/07/15 - 03/07/15 Saint Etienne Festival des sept collines
17/04/15 - 19/04/15 Paris Pompidou Center
21/10/14 Grenoble Le Magasin
12/06/14 Paris Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain


Season 1 Episode 2 is a movie that describes, step by step, its own making.

director : Bettina Atala music : Etienne Charry assistant director : Pauline Curnier Jardin cameraman : Julien Moy
Watch the trailer !
Where is the cameraman ? At witch point the shot will change ? Is this scene shot in chronological order ? How many takes to obtain this one ? These are the questions that the characters openly ask themselves and which are the main subject of the movie’s dialogues.
As orange: Pascale Murtin, Christophe Salengro, Aurélia Petit As pink: Virginie Petit, Danièle Colomine, Pascale Murtin As Yellow: Joseph Dahan, Christophe Arrot, Danièle Colomine As blue: Marc Bruckert, Michel Phelippeau As brown: Etienne Charry, Virginie Petit, Pascale Murtin As red: Marc Bruckert, François Hiffler
“At the end of my sentence, the shot will change !”
When I punch you in the face, the shot will change !
Diffusion : 34567FILMS Executive Producer GRAND MAGASIN/ 34567FILMS Coproduction GRAND MAGASIN / 34567FILMS/Le Consortium, Dijon / Dubbelspel (30cc & STUK Kunstencentrum) / MAC/VAL, Vitry sur Seine / Les Spectacles vivants – Centre Pompidou With the help of Ministery of Culture and Communication (DICREAM) With the support of Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers and Canal + Short Program Unit.
tip to save time on daily chores
COMMERCIAL BREAK A useful tip to save time on daily chores: “ While I am washing the dishes,
I can vacum,
iron my clothes,
and clean the windows.”
Objectif Cinema (5/8/2010) - "With (faux) naïveté, malice and finesse, Bettina Atala’s film questions language" Nicolas Villodre
Mouvement (12/15/2009) - "fiction met reality, with no possible return back" Magali Lesauvage
Telerama (5/3/2008) - "Unless it’s not your style of humor, you’ll very quickly be smiling out of delightful disbelief." Cathy Blisson
Inrockuptibles (3/11/2008) - "An obvious taste for deconstruction and parodic irony, which are particularly efficient here."Hugues le Tanneur
Cahier du Cinema (9/15/2007) - "A mockery of cinematic conventions"Ch.G
"A feminist use of split-screen"Ch.G
Date City Venue
06/11/11 Madrid Impresentable Festival
19/10/11 - 17/12/11 Hambourg, Lunebourg, Paris Channel TV
01/10/11 - 31/10/11 Jerusalem Show V
11/07/11 Vitry-sur-Seine MAC/VAL
26/11/09 Paris La Menagerie de Verre
27/09/09 - 28/09/08 Toulouse Printemps de Septembre
09/09/09 New York, NY Crossing the Line/FIAF
27/08/09 - 28/08/09 Groningen Noorderzon International Performing Arts Festival
15/05/09 Rennes Festival Agitato
20/03/09 Creteil Festival International de film de femme
03/11/08 - 04/11/08 Leuven STUK Kunstencentrum
17/10/08 L’Isle en Dodon Pronomade
24/09/08 Bordeaux TNT
19/09/08 Quend Festival du Film Grolandais
29/05/08 - 30/05/08 Lausanne Arsenic
29/05/08 Paris Festival Hors Pistes/Centre Pompidou
24/05/08 Caen Cinema LUX
17/05/08 Vitry-sur-Seine MAC/VAL
01/04/08 Champigny Sur Marne Conservatoire Olivier Messiaen
27/02/08 - 01/03/08 Bethune Comedie de Bethune
13/02/08 - 15/02/08 Paris Pompidou Center




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Les Déplacements du problème

by GRAND MAGASIN at the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale

17 bd Jourdan 75014. Until 30 October.
Grand Magasin maintain a rather ambiguous rapport with technology. Founded in 1982 by Pascale Murtin and François Hiffler, the company has always shown more interest in what doesn’t work than what does. The title of their last show, dating back to 2003, and directly copied from a computer screen, clearly demonstrates this difficulty: 0 task(s) out of 7 have been carried out successfully.

Binary. That said, the subtleties of binary language have a friend in Grand Magasin, who would willingly recuperate Musset’s proverb, which was also the title of a play: The door must be either open or closed. An assertion that the troupe would instantly follow up with: “Or, maybe not.” A quick visit to their website ( shows the extent of what’s at stake. In an elevator shaft, a little sign has been photographed:

In the event that you have stopped between two floors:
– Press button “A”
– In the event that there is no reply
– Press button “B”

Well-behaved clown-musicians, Pascale Murtin and François Hiffler, joined by Bettina Atala, are not troublemakers but they know how to sow the seeds of doubt. The result isn’t any less devastating. In Les Déplacements du problème, their show currently on at the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale, they explain how the show will work: “Three demonstrators present a series of devices whose acoustic effects will disturb the presentation itself. They will have to do it over a few times.”
The devices in question clearly exist: they were supplied by the Ircam (Institute for the Research and Coordination of Acoustics/Music), which participated in the new project. The goal of the show: “To use devices that emit sound in order to artificially multiply the obstacles to listening and comprehension.” Which more or less amounts to learning the science behind scenes we witness everyday without capturing its generaI meaning. Who has never tried to have a conversation in a train while your neighbour is yelling in his cellphone, when you enter a tunnel, the employee in the bar-car is having problems with his speaker and a baby is screaming? Among the Ircam’s devices, there is a series of microphones, including the “relativizing microphone,” which punctuates all of your sentences with your own recorded voice (“I’ll have to check”, “Unless there’s been a mistake”, “Or not”, “At least, that’s what I understood”… ).

“Absorbing rug”. In the same order of ideas, you’ll find the “contradicting mic” and the “negative echo mic”. But there is also the “absorbing rug” which muffles all sounds the second you step on it. And, let’s not forget the classics: vacuum cleaner, jackhammer, etc. You could lose yourself in it if it weren’t for the rope of the absurd Grand Magasin has generously tossed out to you.

RENÉ SOLIS[/one_half_last]



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They do not ingratiate us with a smile. The lecturers of Grand Magasin do not hide their obsessive side.

That has been their style for the past twenty-five years… Pascale Murtin, François Hiffier and Bettina Atala, egged on by Ircam, who have supplied them with technical equipment, have pushed their logic to the extreme, while clinging fast to their principles (tirelessly deconstructing obvious facts and theorizing). They question everything that scrambles our messages and invent impressive non-communicating machines. At a time when we are flooded with information, the idea behind it is appropriate, and some of their experiments, like the “doubt emitter”, are really hilarious. E.B.


Until 30 October at the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale, Paris 14th arrt.[/one_half_last]

Le Point


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Grand Magasin, completely nuts!

Humor. Theatre de la Cite International, Paris 14e. Until 30 October. By Marie Audran

So who are these three weirdoes? Lecturers, auctioneers, crazy hosts of The Home Shopping Network? Who cares? This guy and these two gals have us rolling in the aisles. And that’s only saying half of it. Grand Magasin – the nutty name this collective of burlesque performers have given themselves – perform their hilarious numbers for a little over an hour (almost too short) at the Théâtre de la Cité internationale. On stage, you have the choice, it’s a smorgasbord! This infernal trio tests out the strangest products, like the doubt emitter with three pedals which complete your sentences with “That’s what I understood”, “I’ll have to check”, “at least, I think so…” a machine whose only purpose is to “minimize your arguments”. Another revolutionary invention: the “absorbing rug” which doesn’t absorb stains, but sounds. The second you step on it, you’re mute! There is also the contradicting mic, our favourite, which says the opposite of what you say, or even the negative echo, which can be heard before the sound is even made! Grand Magasin sure can be zany! And, above all, incredibly funny. The show, called Les déplacements du problème was made with the help of l’Ircam (Institute for the Research and Coordination of Acoustics/Music). Among the essential questions asked by these actor-provocateurs is: am I understood when I speak? Have I really understood someone when I think I have? Gleefully, they use their new sonic toys to question logical incoherencies, as they say, sense and nonsense, the traps of communication, new technology, the recurring obstacles to listening and to comprehension. This could have made for a boring show that wasn’t much fun. But it’s fantastic and so clever, you’ll walk out smiling. It’s good show which, under the appearance being light-hearted and uniquely strange, has a lot to say about the lack of communication that pollutes our daily lives. See and hear this show immediately! A remedy for the blues whose only durable side effect leaving you in a good mood…


Les déplacements du problème by Grand Magasin. By and with Pascale Murtin, Bettina Atala and François Hiffler. With the help of Manuel Coursin…[/one_half_last]

Rue 89


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Over-the-top and Jubilatory: Grand Magasin, a praiseworthy adventure

By Jean-Pierre Thibaudat | Journalist | 22/10/2010 | 16H00



You can find just about everything in Grand Magasin’s shows, but first what we like: craziness, the unexpected, playfulness and, as always, an unparalleled way of playing with the logic of facts, gestures, objects and everything else to the point of absurdity.


In the company of those who defy categorization

You’ll love the show put on by the unclassifiable artists, Pascale Murtin and François Hiffler if…


  • · you like Georges Perec (beginning with “Les Choses”),
  • · you have a special spot in your library reserved for Lewis Carroll’s “The Game of Logic”,
  • · you were a fan of Pierre Desproges’s “minutes necessaries de monsieur Cyclopède”,
  • · you aren’t indifferent to “L’Encyclopédie capricieuse du tout et du rien” by Charles Dantzig, or Pierre Bayard’s works,
  • · you never get tired of the films of Buster Keaton or Jacques Tati (whom Grand Magasin is presently referencing),
  • · you love visiting Eric Chevillard’s blog.


In a word, if you like theatre that isn’t theatre.

Their latest opus, “prepared and finalized” with the wonderful Bettina Atala, who joined the duo, has fdor its title, “Les Déplacements du problème”. A trio, a golden triangle, triplets out of nowhere… Let’s stop being biased: the problem with speaking about this show without revealing its exquisite events, is that one must speak about it without speaking about it. In other words, one must say nothing whilst saying everything, beginning with everything we like about it.



Let’s just say that, since 1982, they function perfectly together as a duo, François Hiffler loves the color green, usually shunned from the stage out of superstition, while Pascale Murtin adores Buskin-style shoes, colored stockings and a hairstyle that she must have patented since she is the only person in the world to have her hair like that.

Time seems to have slid off their backs without touching them, as if being strong in the degree zero of irony-free art has preserved them in an undisturbed jar of formaldehyde. Almost thirty years after they began, they still look like children caught red-handed in the schoolyard. Moreover, some of their performances resemble classes or demonstrations of products (household and others).


The hilarious sounds of Ircam

This is what you will find in “Les Déplacements du problème”. Initially commissioned by the Ircam (Institute for the Research and Coordination of Acoustics/Music), which proves that this institution, despite its air of seriousness and state-of-the-art technology, also has a sense of humor. The three accomplices that make up Grand Magasin accepted the commission – sound plays an important role in the show – but by displacing it:


“At the time, we asked ourselves some fundamental questions: am I understood when I speak? Have I truly understood something when I believe I have? Have I truly understood nothing when I think that’s the case?”

This is what they write in the succinct program handed out to the audience. The show, which has an answer for everything, answers these questions and many others with the help of machines and hare-brained objects:


  • · the absorbing rug
  • · the circle of inattention
  • · the untimely vacuum
  • · automatic hesitation
  • · the contradicting mic


This last device – my favorite – appears like the ideal Christmas gift for our elected officials and politicians. No, don’t ask me to explain what the names of these rare birds might mean. I won’t say another word.


Grand Magasin, Complete works

If one day, a well-advised theatre or festival director commissioned Grand Magasin for a retrospective in the form of an anthology of their works from, let’s say the last 25 years, we would see that these players have been peerless in their capacity to grasp and travel through their era, to grab it by the scruff of its banality, polish the mirror of its tautologies, extract the substantive marrow of its mundaneness, and share all of it with us, in all modesty and in all simplicity, on a stage.

Les Déplacements du problème by Grand Magasin at the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale[/one_half_last]