Hot Hot Comedy
A story about Christophe Jean, sponsored by Wrigley’s Big Red chewing gum.
You know the drill: you’ve met a bunch of really interesting, smart, and talented comedians and you’ve interviewed them. You collect twenty hours of interview recordings, which translates to a couple hundred transcript pages. Then you realize you don’t have time to write all of these stories, so you hire freelance writers to help. For the most part it goes well, but the copy you get back from one writer about Christophe Jean starts like this:
“Christophe Jean isn’t like any comedian. For example, he lives in Orlando, Florida. He has the kind of wild and unruly beautiful rusty red curly hair that you wish you could twirl around your fingers.”
In that moment, you realize you will most definitely need to ignore your children for a few hours and do the writing yourself.
I know you’ve been in this exact situation, and you get it!
For starters, living in Orlando does not make Christophe unusual. That’s not a distinguishing feature for a comedian. We have at least ten.
Also, lots of comedians are gingers. Christophe is hardly alone. I have personally witnessed Carrot Top’s mane flapping in the breeze as he rides his Vespa through Winter Park.
While it’s true that gingers are mysterious and god-like, they are also widely ridiculed, which increases the likelihood that they will become comedians. That childhood trauma curdles and churns into “jokes”. That’s why red-headed comics are ubiquitous. (There’s a $5 word for you, Christophe. I see your vocabulary and I raise you.)
My own ginger daughter was in second grade, standing in line with her class before heading to the cafeteria. She felt an unfamiliar tug on the back of her head. The girl behind her, so beguiled and intrigued with the redness, was chewing on my kid’s hair. She then proclaimed to my child, “Your hair is a wig and your skin is fake.”
Five years later, my kid is funny as hell.
But not as funny as Christophe, or at least not yet.
Christophe’s 15 Second Podcast, launched in April 2021 and available for viewing on Instagram and TikTok, is a brilliant acknowledgement of the short attention span plaguing today’s youth. As an older woman with impressive focus, I routinely watch the episodes back-to-back so I can get at least three minutes of enjoyment out of it.
My favorite episode – because it is the best one – is when he misgenders guest Heather Shaw (May 13th). That episode is rivaled by the one where he threatens Kermit Gonzalez, the one where he insinuates Jake Ricca is a pedophile, the one where he accuses Rauce Padgett of antisemitism, the one where he misconstrues Ben Brainard’s comments as homophobic, and the one where he claims Joe Censabella verbally abuses kids.
In his 15 Second Podcast, Christophe routinely does one of two things: 1. He purposefully embodies poor character, possibly to shine a light on societal ills but probably just because it’s fun. 2. He cooks up outlandish accusations about another person’s character, possibly to shine a light on societal ills but probably just because it’s fun.
The Kermit Gonzalez episode is an outlier, as Christophe mocks him without reference to wrongdoing.
The icing on the cake, of course, is the 2-second, aptly chosen fake sponsorship attribution at the end of each episode. In a brief rant with shades of toxic masculinity (“Would you say you have a shrill voice?”), Christophe talks over Ashley Read and slaps on a Tampax Pearl sponsorship.
This is all very good stuff and it feels like the DNA for something big. The same is true for Christophe’s stand-up. Here he is, masterfully undermining cultural norms. Sure, addiction is a problem. But have you considered the advantages of nicotine addiction over alcohol addiction? We know that pedophelia is not cool, but what happens when a small child fondles his father? Christophe is more than happy to paint a picture and make everybody very uncomfortable.
Bottom line, everything Christophe thinks and ultimately says is wonderfully wrong. Not just bad but twisted, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
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Christophe grew up in Tampa, Florida, and went to college at the University of Central Florida, because it was the only school he applied to. He was an English major, and as a person with an English degree from UCF, I can attest to how much reading and literary criticism is involved. I posit that this line of academic inquiry formed the scaffolding of Christophe’s joke-writing, even though he apparently hasn’t considered that before.
When I asked him about the connection between his studies and his jokes, he took it at face value: “I’m not like up there, like, you know,
making brainy references, quoting Tolstoy or whatever. Sounds cool, but no one gets it.”
It’s pretty annoying when a guy widely referred to as a genius pretends not to know it. “Uh, do people say that? I mean, I guess, I mean, they say I’m a good writer, I guess.”
As Christophe becomes a known figure, that kind of false humility will fade away. He’ll get a big head. A big head topped with a luxurious mop of red curls.