“You have to learn to laugh at what you have experienced”, according to Tristan Lopin, back with “Irreproachable”

When we first met Tristan Lopin, in the fall of 2018, he was playing his first show Affective dependance. The comedian greeted the public at the door, offering them to dip into a candy box. On stage, he talked about breakups and the prince charming he was waiting for. “The girls feel like they’re at a girlfriend’s party,” he told us then. At 35, he is back with a new single on stage, Impeccable, which operates a 90 degree turn. Tristan Lopin branches off to a more pronounced sarcastic tone and more scathing valves. He also tackles sensitive subjects, starting with the rape he suffered at the age of 13, depression, anxiety. A chilling program? On the contrary, the artist achieves the tour de force of injecting humor into what is not funny. Laughter becomes a balm, a therapy, a weapon and a political gesture. This show is “more committed and more personal”, confirms the thirty-year-old who chose the title as a snub. “This desire to be irreproachable weighed on me terribly. For a very long time, I made sure to cut corners, to be the teenager who doesn’t make waves and in the end, you realize that the storms are not where you expect them. The day I told myself that I had the right to say no, I was so much happier and more sincere. »

In “Irreproachable” you say that your producer trusted you completely and only discovered its content during the premiere. It’s true ?

Yes. He didn’t want to read anything before seeing me on stage. It was a big stress. The first took place in Nantes. A first is always chaotic, there are a lot of things that don’t work, you don’t know how people will react. After the performance, my producer told me that there were things to work on but that the themes didn’t bother him, that it was going to be very funny. I was shaking, it was terrible.

Trembling over his reaction?

No, my producer, he knows me. I was apprehensive about the public’s reactions because I’m offering something fundamentally different from the first show. I told myself that maybe I was going to lose people that I had taken so long to “win”.

You talk for several minutes about the rape you suffered. You hesitated to keep this part in the show?

After the premiere, my producer told me that no one had heard me say: “I was 13, he was 35.” I had a hard time formulating this sentence. Yes, it was a hesitation because in life, it’s a cataclysm. This still conditions many things today in my personal life. I wondered how people were going to approach the subject and if we could laugh about that in a society where it is difficult to laugh at difficult things like that. I decided to tell myself that this is a story that belongs to me. I’m not doing a sketch on rape, but on my rape. I told myself that it was also a way to free speech. There’s always this guilt where you wonder, “If I say it, will it become something that defines me?” “. I want to say yes, even if that’s not the only thing that defines me. When I meet a boy, when I fall in love, these are necessarily things I talk to him about because it has to be taken into account. I also did it because, with my first show, I had the impression of not being completely honest: I was revealing something about emotional dependence, but to understand this show, it would have been necessary to limit or even second forward. This new show is the one I didn’t dare to do first.

What was the starting point for the writing?

It started with the heart story, which I talk about in the show, which ended badly with a boy. It had been a long time since I had been this bad. I was so into the hard that I started to write, but a bit like a diary or something cathartic. I just had to evacuate. I was all alone, I was sorting and I had these stories that haunted me. Everything came back. I realized that it wasn’t just the separation from this boy, there was a lot of other stuff around. I wrote here and there, things that weren’t funny at all – I had done the same for the previous show. My producer called me at that time offering me to continue with a new single-on-stage. I replied: “I may have something, but be careful…”

You were afraid of how the public might receive this show. The reactions vary from one performance to another?

In general, it’s always in the same places that it laughs or that it doesn’t. The reactions are fairly uniform. I think people are surprised, but the feedback I get is usually from people who were pleasantly surprised. I was talking about this with Juliette Armanet a year and a half ago, when I was in the middle of writing. I told him that I was working on a project but that it was very personal. She answered me: “As long as it is honest and sincere, it will work. At that time, I still thought that I had to keep the energy of my first show, of what people expected of me. The somewhat harsh themes, I hope I have treated them in an intelligent and funny way, and I think that, as the public sees that it is sincere, it touches them.

Through humour, you send messages, in particular on questioning the words of people who denounce what they have suffered or the derisory financial compensation…

I’ve had discussions on #MeToo with lots of people, including straight, white, somewhat privileged guys, who were like, “It’s too easy. If I find myself one evening alone in the office with a woman, she can say the next day that I assaulted her. Obviously, false testimonies exist but statistically, they represent a very small proportion. I just wanted to say, “Let’s set the record straight. Before someone’s word is taken seriously, it goes through stages that you don’t know. You judge without knowing what we are going through. People do this to be recognized as victims, it’s not to make circles. 5,000 bullets, when you see the time it took me, the psychoanalysis, the days in the police offices, to tell fifteen times what I experienced, in front of the guy… Personally, these are memories of which I would have passed.

In 2020, the journalist Matthieu Fouchet wrote for the Vice site an investigation on the “MeToo gay”, pointing out that gays are particularly exposed to sexual violence and that it is a taboo that persists. What did you think of it?

I heard about it. I didn’t dwell too much on the subject because it annoyed me a bit. For me, #MeToo is something that concerns everyone. What bothered me with the gay #metoo is to put these testimonials in a kind of sub-category. I did not speak at that time because I did not find it appropriate. And when we say “#MeToo gay”, suddenly, it necessarily makes less noise. We have heard of it yes, but especially in the circles of people who are interested in this problem and who are a little open-minded.

The denomination “#MeToo gay” makes it possible to take into account certain specificities such as the fact that certain gay men sexually assaulted or raped fear that a link will be established between what they suffered as children and their sexual orientation…

I completely understand and these are thoughts that have been made to me: “Ah, but suddenly you’re homosexual because it happened”, when that has absolutely nothing to do with it. These are homophobic thoughts. But we can talk about these specificities without necessarily compartmentalizing everything. Let’s talk each time about the specific problems of the condition of women, the condition of homosexuals, etc.

How do you feel when you hear the audience laughing about what you went through?

Me, it makes me feel good. I don’t hide from you that it’s a bit difficult to dwell on this every day because it puts me in an energy where I’m very on edge. But it is therapeutic. Of course, I could talk about it in a very dramatic way – and I have a lot of terrible things, feelings that have gone through me that are very hard – but you also have to learn to laugh at what you have experienced. Me, it helps me because it happened, I believed that I would never get out of it and, even if I would not say that I got out of it because it is something that lives in me , today, I live with it and I move forward. That’s what I want to say to people: open the doors, open the cupboards and let’s move on. We can talk about it, you just have to surround yourself with people to whom you can say “This happened to me”, tell what you want to tell, and, when people react badly, tell them they don’t have the words. If we don’t talk about it, if we don’t say how we work and how they should listen to us, we will never help anyone.

If I understood what you told me correctly, between your two shows, you haven’t evolved in terms of humor but it’s rather that, now, you dare to dare. “Irreproachable” is much more sarcastic, caustic, scathing…

I think I needed to assume more of the humor that I wanted to have. The sarcastic tone was already a little present in the first show, but I had to take stock of what I allowed myself to do. I also had to take a step back from what had happened to me and know how I could work with humor, understand my relationship with the public. It was when I saw Blanche Gardin’s shows that I wondered how I, with my humor, could also tackle complicated subjects.

You have in common with Blanche Gardin to start from your experience and to talk about certain taboo subjects which ultimately concern a large number of people…

I talk a bit about depression in the show, about the desires to die. It’s taboo, we don’t talk about it, but it goes through everyone’s mind. I know there are people that won’t be funny. These are not popular themes but they are universal. We are human beings, we are crossed by the same emotions, more or less assumed. When you do ten years of psychoanalysis like me, you end up having a perspective on ourselves and on people. We can afford more things when we have made the journey on ourselves.

The audience responds. In Paris alone, all your performances scheduled at L’Européen from March to May are sold out. What can be comforted in this bias?

I’m lucky, but I’ve also worked a lot. We have nothing without nothing. There it works and that’s good, it means that the show is popular, that there is good word-of-mouth and that I have a community that follows me a lot on Instagram. I worked a lot to create content, light things and a bit committed. I don’t regret getting wet and writing something that, at the start, I wouldn’t necessarily have felt capable of.

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