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Gad Elmaleh

Gad Elmaleh is a Moroccan-Canadian stand-up comedian and actor who achieved fame in France, Morocco and the United States.

He has starred in several feature films, including Coco, Priceless, La Doublure and Midnight in Paris. Voted the funniest person in France, he was named knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Minister of Culture; he was also named knight of the National Order of Quebec. In 2015 and 2018, Elmaleh did national comedy tours across the United States. In 2019, he starred in the Netflix series Huge in France.

Elmaleh was born and raised in Casablanca to a Moroccan Berber Jewish family. Elmaleh was brought up in a culturally diverse environment, speaking Moroccan Arabic and French. As a child he would introduce his father, a mime, with a placard. His brother, Arié, is an actor and singer, and his sister, Judith, is an actress and stage director.

He studied at École Maïmonide, and Lycée Lyautey in Casablanca. His family emigrated from Morocco to Canada when Elmaleh was 17. He later studied political science at a university in Montreal. In 1992, Elmaleh moved to Paris to study drama at Cours Florent under the tutelage of Isabelle Nanty.


Elmaleh's first one-man show Décalages, performed at the "Palais des glaces" in 1997, was autobiographical. In the show he retraces his journey beginning with his departure from Morocco after high school, continuing with his studies in Montreal and finishing in France where he studied drama at Cours Florent. His fame further increased with the success of his second one-man show, La Vie Normale which was his first time performing at the Olympia as well his first show of more than two hours. The show was released on DVD on 23 January 2001.

In contrast to his first two one-man shows, his L'autre c'est moi (2005) contains more improvisation and interaction with the public. He has been credited with bringing the American stand-up style to France and using it in his one-man shows. He came back to the stage with L'autre, c'est moi in September 2006 in Canada (Montreal) and in the U.S. (on Broadway, at the Beacon Theater in front of 3000 spectators); it was performed also in Casablanca, Morocco. Between April and August 2007 he played his successful show in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. The show attracted over 300,000 spectators. The show was later released on DVD and sold 1,500,000 copies.

On 6 January 2007, he was voted the "funniest man of the year" by TF1 viewers from a choice of 50 comedians. On 15 July 2007, Elmaleh premiered his fifth one-man show, Papa est en haut, in Montreal as part of the Just for Laughs festival. That year he sold out seven consecutive weeks at the iconic Olympia theatre in Paris, a new record. After that Gad performed for another seven sold out weeks at Le Palais des Sports. In total, one million tickets were sold to this show.

In 2013, he appeared on Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

His sixth standup show was Sans Tambour (Drumless, "sans tambour ni trompette" (bugleless) = meaning making a big entrance unannounced).

In 2016, he appeared with Kev Adams in the M6 comedy special Tout est Possible. During the show, the two comedians performed a 10-minute sketch where they played Chinese men, which later received criticism for its racial portrayals.

Elmaleh has performed in a mix of French and Arabic in Morocco and included some Hebrew in shows in Israel. Elmaleh is often called the "Seinfeld of France," a label he called "flattering" and understandable, given that both he and Seinfeld are inspired to do comedy based on "everyday life." Both comedians are friends


Move to the United States

Elmaleh at the Deauville American Film Festival in 2010
In 2015 Elmaleh began an American tour entitled "Oh My Gad" and moved to New York City. He first appeared in Joe's Pub in December following multiple workout shows in the fall. While Elmaleh speaks English fluently, he works with an English teacher to write his jokes while appreciating the nuances of the English language. One difference between his French shows and his English shows is that his English shows include no riffing, everything is scripted. In September 2016, an episode of This American Life highlighting challenging transitions included a segment about Elmaleh and his transition to American comedy.

On 15 December 2016 episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Elmaleh appeared as the show's stand-up act.

Elmaleh's French stand-up special Gad Gone Wild was filmed in Montreal, Canada and was released on Netflix on 24 January 2017. An English language special was released in March 2018.


Elmaleh's first contact with cinema was the full-length film, Salut cousin ! by Merzak Allouache. He later appeared in L'homme est une femme comme les autres and Train de Vie. In 2000 he played the role of "Dov", the seducer in La Vérité si je mens ! 2. The character of "Chouchou" in La Vie Normale was reproduced in the comedy Chouchou (2002), directed by Merzak Allouache and also starring Alain Chabat; the film drew large audiences.[citation needed]. He then did his debut as a singer in "it's kiz my life", a popular song in a non-existing language. The music video was directed by J.G Biggs and shot in the famous Parisian Hôtel Costes.

Elmaleh signing autographs in 2007
He returned to film in 2004 when he starred in the 2004 film Olé! with Gérard Depardieu. In 2005, he starred as François Pignon in La Doublure (English title "The Valet"), by Francis Veber. In 2006, he appeared opposite Audrey Tautou in Priceless (French title "Hors de prix"), by Pierre Salvadori.

He played the voice of Barry B. Benson in the French version of the 2007 film Bee Movie, Drôle d'Abeille. There he met Jerry Seinfeld and became friends with him.

In 2009, he released the film, Coco, which he directed, wrote and starred in. It opened number one in France, Belgium and Switzerland. In 2010 he appeared in a dramatic role in Roselyne Bosch's The Round Up, which is based on the events surrounding the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup.

In 2011, he had a small role in Woody Allen's Paris-set feature, Midnight in Paris. He also appeared in the motion capture film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, alongside Jamie Bell. The film, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson, was released on 26 October 2011 in Belgium and on 23 December 2011 in the United States. The same year, he also starred in Jack & Jill as Al Pacino's French cook. In 2012, he had a small role in The Dictator. In 2019 he has a Netflix series, Huge in France, exposing him to a wider American audience. The satiric series includes a cameo by Jerry Seinfeld.

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