Gad Elmaleh at Joe’s Pub (Photo courtesy of Jon Asher)
Mentioning Gad Elmaleh’s residency at Joe’s Pub to my American friends was a weird experience. “He’s the most famous comedian in France!” I said, full of jingoistic pride. The embarrassed silence that ensued made me realize that my announcement didn’t quite have the expected effect. So I tried a different approach. “He’s like the French Jerry Seinfeld, you know. They’re actually good friends. He’s even been a guest on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
“Oh… Really?” was the politest answer I could get. But I saw in my interlocutors’ perplexed eyes that they had no clue who the hell I was talking about.
Nation Lampoon magazine cover, Jan ’73 (Credit: National Lampoon)
I know I’m not the only one whose pre-adolescent mind was warped by National Lampoon and the cartoons of the New Yorker, so it’s a real treat to have seen documentaries about both at the Tribeca Film Festival.
On Sunday, Calvin Trillin kicked off a post-screening panel discussion about Leah Wolchok’s doc, Very Semi-Serious, by confessing that he had a “100 percent turndown record for cartoon ideas at the New Yorker.” Back in the day, aspiring doodlers would submit for 25 years before they were finally accepted, but the documentary makes clear that entry is no longer quite as forbidding.