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A taste of English comedy in Paris

Huddled in the picturesque neighbourhood of Belleville, La Java is home to the Laughing Matters comedy club, where expats and Anglophiles can enjoy a slice of English life and humour in Paris.

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Belleville – literally translated – means beautiful town. The neighbourhood, situated in the hilly north-east of Paris, is a busy, colourful, multi-ethnic neighbourhood.

Home to one of Paris’s two Chinatowns, Belleville is a great place for a Chinese meal – and it's also good for a giggle. The popular local venue La Java is where you'll find the French capital’s only English-speaking comedy club.

Organiser Karel Beer has wooed the crème de la crème of comedy talent to perform here.

“The venue is vitally important," says Beer. "People have tried to do a show in a pub, for example, and I can think of no reason whatsoever why a self-respecting English or American or Irish stand-up comedian would want to travel to Paris to perform in a pub. That’s ridiculous.

“What we have here in La Java is a venue which has history — it's 1925. Edith Piaf was here, and so was Django Reinhardt. Jean Gabin also used to hang out here.”

The comedy club has grown through word of mouth in Paris's English-speaking  expat community. Established comedians like Eddie Izzard, Al Murray and Michael McIntyre all performed at Laughing Matters before they became famous.

A recent performer, Josie Long, won the Perrier award for best newcomer at the Edinburgh International Comedy festival in 2006.

"I'd heard a lot about these gigs because a lot of people that I really admire and really like had done them, “ she says, “so I always saw it in my head as a really cool thing to get to do!"

The club has comedy shows every two to three weeks. For English-speaking comedy fans, its a kind of home from home, a few hours where they might forget that they live abroad and away from family and old friends.

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