Before attending Sunday evening’s performance of ‘Crazy’ by Claudia Tagbo at Theatre Cirque Royal in Brussels, I knew nothing about the humorist/comedienne and very much went in open-mindedly about the show that I was going to see, but nothing could have quite prepared me for the performance that I was about to witness.
The 41 year-old, originally from Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast who started out on the comedy circuit at The Jamel Comedy Club in 2006 clearly has a strong following as a result of her charisma and personality based on her character as a strong ‘independent woman’ as well as her observational comedy at its best.
In the show, she talks about everything from her childhood growing up on a council estate in France with 8 in a room plus her parents in a place that was, in her words, “so bad that even the mice had their own letter box”; to her troubles with men and relationships. As she told us in one anecdote about a night out: “This man was hot, ladies, imagine your fantasy… white women, imagine a big black guy with an amazing six-pack, black women, imagine a white guy with a big wallet, the Arab ladies, imagine an Arab, because I don’t want any trouble, and the Asians, well, just imagine whatever you can!” She joked.
Indeed, despite the fact that most of the Franco-Ivorian’s jokes are targeted at women or the black community (neither of which I belong to) her humour and appeal extends far beyond this, and I found myself really warming to her talent as the show went on. She goes on to talk about her impressions of the USA and how different the Americans are from the French (and indeed, Europeans in general) when it comes to their customer service approach at FNAC.
As she tells us during the show, Tagbo really likes to interact with her audience, who were given the opportunity to ask her questions during the stand-up routine which lasted just over an hour and a half. Asked by one member of the audience whether she is well-known in the Ivory Coast, her motherland, she quipped, “oh course! I’ve got all my family over there! … Unfortunately I’ve never performed there as they’ve never invited me [to do so].” She was then asked by a man in the front row whether she was “doing okay health wise” a comment clearly alluding to the breast cancer that she overcame, to which she smiled knowingly, blew a kiss to the gentlemen and replied, “yes, everything is fine, thanks”. It was a touching moment to see a performer who clearly appreciates being back on top form having experienced the lows, but also someone who wasn’t going to dwell on the past and can now even joke about it.
Whilst she is unknown in the anglophone world, Claudia Tagbo has proved an all-rounder with her French-speaking counterparts displaying in this one-woman show that she is far more than just the humorist that she is billed as. She showed off her singing talents as she belted out “St. Denis, St. Denis”, her satiric rendition of ‘New York, New York’ about life in the district of Paris. The actress, well-known in France for her role as Lieutenant Martine Forest in “R.I.S. Police scientifique” between 2005 & 2010 even managed to work her tap dancing skills into a comedy routine. She also had the audience on their feet accompanying her singing and clapping along to the Gospel song “Oh Happy Days” for the finale.
Claudia Tagbo will be playing the last dates of the tour ‘Crazy’, directed by fellow comedian Fabrice Éboué between now and the end of January and this is a show not be missed.