My little reindeer: all shame seen

My little reindeer: all shame seen
My little reindeer: all shame seen

It happens sometimes, a series which emerges from the red platform like that, without warning, this is the case of “Mon petit reinne”, released a few days ago, signed by an unknown person at least in France, the Scottish Richard Gadd, adapted from his own story, and which he plays himself. An object that begins like a sitcom, with a character of a failed comedian who recounts his life in voice-over, becomes weighed down with unprecedented gravitas, and contains in its heart one of the most intense episodes I have ever seen. see.

Little Renne is Donny, he is a barman in London, but his ambition is to become an actor – he hangs out on open stages and enters competitions where he performs slightly absurd numbers in checkered costumes. One day while he was working a woman came into his bar. She is very fat, frumpy, she sits on a stool with a pitiful look. Donny offers him tea, it just starts like that. Martha opens her mouth and begins a litany which will hardly stop until the end of the series, despite the revelations and the twists and turns. Messages, emails, voicemails, then more or less unexpected meetings with the man she calls her “little reindeer” because he has big eyes and a long nose, Martha is everywhere in Donny’s life who no longer knows if he can’t or won’t get rid of it. Because Martha presses on a sensitive area of ​​the young man’s life, a place still unformulated, a mixed ball of violence, anger, shame and desire that the series unfolds with astonishing force, without sparing the characters, nor the spectator.

The time of shame

More serious in its second part, more one-sided, and morally stabilized, it interests me less. But the first four episodes are sewn with a masterful hand, which inextricably weaves together a very particular, very English, desperate humor, autobiographical writing on the nerves, a bit like in Fleabag and who implicitly theorizes about what it is to expose oneself as a comedian: guts out, with all the obscenity that entails.

It is the pact of embarrassment established between the actor and his audience, something very specific to the exercise of stand-up since its beginnings, something that the film critic Guillaume Orignac talks about in a book that I often think about, and which I thought about again in front of My little reindeer whose name is Laughter in times of shame, and which mainly talks about two great figures: Lenny Bruce, one of the American pioneers in the 60s, constantly arrested by the police in the middle of a performance because he spoke crudely about sex and sometimes even undressed in clubs; and then Louie CK, whose career took a particular turn after women accused him a few years ago of having masturbated in front of them, and whose comic material has much been shame, shame that the inside go outside.

Something of an abjection is at play here in the exposure of oneself, and Richard Gadd finds himself in a very particular position: victim and executioner: he is the heterosexual and handsome white man harassed by an obese woman who seems to be suffering. of a serious mental pathology, in a shifting and perverse balance of power, which constantly shifts the spectator’s moral point of view, and forces him to laugh in the face of untenable situations. In a flashback we see Donnie performing a sketch in which he begins by acting as a clown by miming childish and obscene gestures dressed in a ridiculous disguise but immediately goes on to say “my mother died today”: this is the movement which the series produces and reproduces at its best.

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