The successful French cast of Season 3 of “LOL: Who Laughs, Who Comes Out” on Amazon Prime Video speaks volumes about the huge popularity of the Japanese variety format in France.
Adapted to the “LOL: Last One Laughing” format, the Amazon Original series has its biggest launch yet on Prime Video in France since its launch on March 10. One of the first originals to be taped live in France, the show was quite a coup as a successful branding exercise with limited resources – certainly compared to scripted comedies. Adapts of “LOL” also thrived in Italy and Germany where they were respectively ranked as the most watched local titles on the service. Local versions are also available in Spain, Canada, Mexico and Australia (hosted by Rebel Wilson).
After the resounding success of “LOL: Who Laughs, Who Comes Out”, the French teams at Amazon Studios are now developing a franchise series that combines comedy and horror. Like “LOL,” the untitled spin-off will feature eight famous actors who must be the last to scream and laugh to win first prize.
Hosted by Philippe Lachaux (“Alibi.com 2”) in France and produced by Endemol France, “LOL” is a rare breed of unscripted program featuring movie stars who aren’t necessarily known as comedians. The season 3 cast includes Virginie Evira, who just won a César for “Revoir Paris,” Adèle Exarchopoulos (“Blue is the Warmest Color”), Leila Bekhti (“The Restless”) and Pierre Niney (“Yves”). Saint Laurent”). He rubbed shoulders with such sitcoms as Jonathan Cohen (“Asterix and Obelix: Middle Empire”), Geraldine Naccache, Gad Elmaleh, Paul Mirabel, Laura Phillipin and François Damien.
Lacheau, the Californian-looking comedian-turned-helmet, is himself a local celebrity. His latest film, “Alibi.2” – which he directed and starred in – has racked up more than 3 million views since its release on February 8th, ranking as the second highest-grossing French film.
Famous actors lined up to star in “LOL” after season two, says Thomas Dubois, head of originals at Amazon Studios France, which marked a “turning point” for the franchise domestically.
“It was very successful! We started getting calls from actors like Leila Bakhti, Jonathan Cohen and others that followed because they all knew and loved each other,” Dubois recalls. “LOL” captures what happens inside the mansion as the actors armed with their best jokes face off while the cameras keep rolling. Filming takes approx. a day and a half.
DuBois admits that the series “is quite a challenge for any actor, even those who are used to doing comedy, but it gives them the opportunity to show a more realistic and animated side of themselves.” He says that “LOL” has attracted “a wide range of viewers, from young to old”, and has attracted subscriptions.
James Farrell, Head of International Originals at Amazon Studios, has watched every adaptation around the world with glee since the release of the original Japanese show produced by and starring comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto in 2016.
“When you see the French version, you can tell it’s the most authentic. It’s real and clever — just like seeing people at a party trying to make each other laugh,” says Farrell, who had the idea of approaching Matsumoto to work with him on a new look.
In some other countries, they started slapping each other. Mexico gets very violent, and the Japanese, everybody’s naked at some point, they’re all like they’re naked and they’re chasing each other around the room,” Farrell jokes. “But the French, yeah, they sure aren’t naked and hitting on each other!” »
Meanwhile, the German film “surprised everyone,” says Farrell, when the host brought in a famous opera singer. “Everyone is sitting there watching the opera singer and then he takes the helium balloon, so it was like Oprah with the voice of helium! It’s so creative and unexpected and weird. Produced by Constantin Entertainment, “LOL” was nominated for an International Emmy Award last year. “LOL” has one of the “highest completion rates,” which means that viewers watch it in its entirety, and “the viewership continues to rise season after season.”
Although the French shift seems more spontaneous than in other regions, Dubois says the actors are paired with comic strips that help them create jokes and rehearse. “We don’t play actors in a show without the preparation, and although it’s not a scripted show, there is great writing,” says the French executive, adding that improvisation still provides some of the parts. Most fun in the series.
When discussing “LOL”, DuBois said filming would begin before the summer and start before the fourth season. The idea for the spin-off came when filming for the third season of “LOL” went dark. “When it happened, people were scared and we realized that fear was a great source of comedy,” says DuBois, who expects the spin-off to drive the franchise forward.
“Everyone is so excited” about the French pop-up traveling to other countries, says Farrell. Anticipation was high with Amazon Studios as “rumours were circulating internally that France was doing it”. “They don’t have to wait for Halloween, they can just wait for the shoot to happen, which will be very soon, and watch the footage and we’ll see how it goes,” says Farrell.
Farrell also revealed that the success of another non-scripted program from the French team, “Orelsan: Never Show It to Anyone”, inspired other countries as well. The docuseries featured an intimate photograph of French singer Orelsan, filmed by his brother over several decades.
Orelsan was an instant hit [got] All other countries grapple, [and saying,] Hey, that was really cool. How can we do that?’ So India will do one thing, and a bunch of other countries will also follow,” says Farrell.
Unrecorded content, DuBois says, is about 40% of Amazon Studios’ planned domestic production this year. Along with the second seasons of “LOL,” Amazon Studios is working on a documentary series, as well as a new season of “Celebrity Hunted.” This tape also aims to release four original French films this year, including the fun adventure film directed by Franck Gastampede “Medellín”, shot on location in Colombia.