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The Lies of Connards and Courtiers

By Lisawines @omyword

The Lies of Connards and CourtiersI went with two friends Monday night to La Java to see an improv troop perform: LA TAVERNE MÜNCHAUSEN Joutes verbieuses et improvisades. It was amazing, even though I couldn't understand a word they were saying, since it was all in French. Well, maybe I got ten words. I laughed a couple of times, so I must have understood some of it. Of course, nobody else was laughing at that exact moment, so... Hmm.
The building is a bit run down but it was built in 1923 and beneath the peeling paint it still has that great 20's style. If Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier (Tank heben fahr leetle girlz...) were willing to sing there, it's good enough for me. Here's an English-language review of the place where there's a great shot of the outside of the building.
ANYhoo - I loved it. There are four main actors dressed in hilariously exaggerated period clothing (Louis XIV era) with white-painted faces and cherry-red lips (on the men it's quite dashing), who sit around a tavern table.
The Lies of Connards and CourtiersA young waitress, dressed in non-courtly clothes and unvarnished, quietly waits on them, pouring their drinks and helping the ladies arrange their elaborate dresses on the peeling Naugahyde bar stools. She was the same girl who sold me my 12 Euro cheese and meat plate at the bar before the performance.
The Lies of Connards and CourtiersStanding next to me at the bar, was one of the main actresses (I didn't know it until I saw her appear in costume on the stage) and the three of us had one hell of a time trying to figure out how much change I should get from my 50 Euro bill. Seriously. (50 minus 12 is? Go ahead, see how fast you can do it. Go ahe.. Oh. 38. Well, aren't you the smarty pants.) We gave away and took back and gave away so much paper and coin, all the time counting out loud ensemble, that I think I ended up with 350 Euros in the end. Or perhaps I paid 50 Euros for my cheese and meat.
Luckily, I scraped up some change from the bottom of my purse to stand in the drinks line and get my 5 Euro Planter's Punch. It was the size of a thimble, unfortunately, but was made up of mostly alcohol, fortunately.
But, I digress, as always. The fifth actor was the Emcee, of sorts (Check out his hilarious picture here.). The waitress took a basket with little rolled up scrolls and presented it to an audience member who chose one scroll and read it out loud. They consisted of questions like, "Why did you bring New York butter to Louis XIV?" and "Why did you spend four years inside a whale?" and "Tell us about your magical tooth." and "How did you mistake the queen's necklace for some sausage links?" Then the scroll was given to the Emcee, who sat at the table with the other four actors and read it again. One of the four main actors then had to stand up and, off the cuff, create a fantastical story to answer the question. The Emcee and other three actors would help their friend embellish the story, much to the enjoyment of the audience.
The four main actors carried little silk bags and if they told a successful story, they were awarded coins. If any of the actors insulted the others, coins were taken away. (This happened frequently.) After the break, the audience was allowed to write their own questions and the basket was passed again. The first round was timed, giving the actors three minutes to develop their stories and the second round lasted only one minute. In the end, the one with the greatest number of coins was the winner and the one with the least had his or her head chopped off. (Back stage, so there wouldn't be a big mess, I imagine.)
A couple of times, in between rounds, two actors left their table and mounted the stage with plastic swords and daggers and the Emcee picked a word from the dictionary. The two actors, parrying their weapons, then had to come up with a sentence that ended in a word that rhymed with the chosen word. The actor who couldn't come up with a sentence was the loser.
Even though I've been in intense French-language training since early February, reading the writings of Un Gros Connard (inside joke, so sorry), I had a hard time following this show. I have become proud of my new French vocabulary - Ou est la doudou? Elle n'as pas la doudou! C'est VOLUNTAIRE??? (inside joke #2 - just so that two other people can laugh with me right now, sorry again) - but the lies of a single Gros Connard (who, interesting enough, suffers from "Münchausen syndrome by proxy") and the criminal modern-day intrigue in which I've become embroiled are a pale (and, hopefully soon, distant) charade compared to the comedic prevaricating courtiers of The Sun King. 


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