There’s a new comedy series on Netflix, and it’s centered around a popular comedian you might not have heard of before. Huge In France tells the semi-autobiographical story of Gad Elmaleh, a French comic who comes to America to reinvent his career and reconnect with his son. He’s a big celebrity in France, but American audiences who haven’t seen his stand-up may be wondering, who is Gad Elmaleh?
Elmaleh is a 47-year-old French-Moroccan stand-up comedian, who plays to sold-out stadiums across France. He has two specials on Netflix, Gad Gone Wild and American Dream, in which he reveals that he’s been doing comedy in France for over 23 years, and that he moved to America to start over. “I’m sure you’ve heard this story so many times about the man who moved to America with one dollar in his pocket, and he worked so hard and he made a fortune,” Elmaleh jokes in American Dream. “I moved here with a fortune. Same story guys, I just did it backwards.”
According to the Times of Israel, Elmaleh was born in Casablanca, Morocco to a Jewish family, and loved to perform as a child. At the age of 21, after pursuing his studies at the University of Montreal, Elmaleh moved to Paris to pursue his dream of acting. He told the outlet that he was inspired by American comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Jerry Seinfeld (who he is good friends with), so he decided to pursue a career in stand-up. Through comedy, Elmaleh became one of the biggest celebrities in France, but he felt like he needed a challenge, which is why he came to America and taught himself English.
“As a kid in Morocco — more in Morocco than in France — America was really something that we would dream about,” he told Times of Israel. “There was a mystery and a fantasy to it — Two years ago I didn’t speak English like I do right now with you. I think it is a great thing in a career to step out of the comfortable situation you have.”
In an interview with Esquire, Elmaleh revealed that he has two sons, 18-year-old Noe (who’s mom is French actress Anne Brochet) and 6-year-old Raphaël (from his relationship with Princess of Monaco, Charlotte Casiraghi). He said that his older son lives in Los Angeles and often comes to visit him at his new place in New York. When talking to Frenchly, the comedian talked about how difficult it is for him to be away from his son, which is why he made Huge In France largely about family.
“It’s about a father who wants to reconnect with his son, culture shock, co-parenting with an ex, starting comedy, and dating — [which is] very difficult for me in the US, it was easy in France,” Elmaleh told Frenchly. “The most difficult part of this whole challenge is that I miss my family. I can handle Pittsburg at midnight alone, but when I miss my son I can’t handle it anywhere. Even in the sexiest and most fun city, when I miss my little boy, I feel stupid. I’m his dad and I’m not there.”
If you’re interested in knowing more about Elmaleh, you can check out his two Netflix comedy specials along with Huge In France, which is loosely based on his real life. With all the buzz his new show is getting, it’s safe to say that his anonymity in the US won’t last much longer.
Huge In France premieres with its eight-episode first season on Friday, Apr. 12 on Netflix.