French Language Blog

French Jokes: “Where is Brian?” Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Culture

Having a good private joke (inside joke) is a great way to open the door to a new culture. For many learners humor isn’t always the easiest thing to understand in a new language, and can be a rather large cultural hurdle.

In my personal experiences, I found it rather difficult to capter des blagues françaises (get French jokes), until I heard one that played into how the French learned English.

La blague (the joke) comes from the famous comedian, Gad Elmaleh, and the joke plays on the teaching method used in French schools for learning English throughout the 80s and into the 90s.
La blague from his sketch (routine) goes like this:

Parce que j’ai quelques notions d’anglais quand même, j’ai appris l’anglais comme vous à l’école quand on était petit.
On a tous eu les même cours débiles !
Avec cette fameuse question existentielle à laquelle il fallait trouver absolument une réponse: “Where is Brian?”
Il vous a traumatisé aussi ce Brian…
On savait pas qui c’était ce Brian, on s’en foutait, mais il fallait le localiser dans la maison pour apprendre l’anglais, c’était ça.
Il fallait trouver les gens de la famille Brian pour apprendre l’anglais, qu’est-ce qui s’passe ?
“Where is Brian?” et toi comme un idiot tu répondais sagement : “Brian is in the kitchen”…

Because I know a little English too, I learned English in school when I was little like all of you.
We all had the same dumb class!
With that famous existential question that you just had to find an answer to: “Where is Brian?”
Brian traumatized all of you as well…
You didn’t know who Brian was, you didn’t care, but you had to find out where he was in the house in order to learn English, that was it.
You had to find the members of Brian’s family in order to learn English, and what happened?
“Where is Brian?” and like an idiot you calmly responded: “Brian is in the kitchen”…

The result of his wildly successful standup show is now a common joke among French people. “Where is Brian?” leads almost immediately to the response, “Bryan is in the kitchen.”
If you can learn this simple blague, tes amis français (your French friends) will be surprised that you know la blague and feel more comfortable sharing French culture with you.

Next time you meet with tes amis français, try askng them:

“Where is Brian?”

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. Kathleen Meade:

    I have been learning French for some time now. I live in Massachusetts. I do listen to TV5 Monde and it helps. My question to you: I desperately want to find a tutor or one-to-one teacher to practice speaking français, which is my ultimate goal- Do you have any advice ?
    Thank you/Merci beaucoup !!!

  2. John Bauer:

    Salut Kathleen!

    Here at Transparent Language there is a service just for that! Check out Transparent Connect with the link below!

  3. Brian:

    I was visiting my friends, in the countryside, outside of Lyon and went to my friends families house for dinner. They’ve been wanting to meet this American friend who their son has been visiting for years. Anyway, I was getting a beer, “in the kitchen”, and the jokes started and everyone was laughing. They explained everything to me and it was the funniest things ever! It also booked the ice between us and made for lots of laughs for the rest of the night.