French in-jokes from Call My Agent, a global hit.

French in-jokes from Call My Agent, a global hit.

The global success of the French TV series Dix pour cent (Call My Agent) is even more impressive given its rapid-fire quips that require a deep understanding of French culture.

Call My Agent's French in-jokes
Call My Agent’s French in-jokes

The Paris talent agency series is entertaining and educative.Each episode has a guest star as themselves. The show introduces French TV, cinema, and music stars, from Jean Dujardin to Audrey Fleurot.

Nonetheless, many French “in jokes” are likely to be lost on non-French speakers, such as Jean Dujardin “going full Day-Lewis” and biting the head off a live rabbit.
You may have missed these:

Visit a nunnery.

At the start of her episode, actress Beatrice Dalle leaves the morgue for the convent to escape the lusty male gaze.

All right. From “Betty Blue” to “Trouble Every Day,” Dalle has played dramatic and outlandish characters as objects of desire.

Dalle enjoys convent retreats with nuns and openly discusses her beliefs and love for Jesus.


The fourth series begins with a dwarf snapping her fingers and a lift door closing magically. “Josephine, Guardian Angel” inspired the gesture.

In it, tiny angel Mimie Mathy assists the needy and disappears with a finger-click.

“Call My Agent!” Mathy isn’t kind. She plays a vile person out to get ASK.

Ever Godefroy

“Leon” and “Mission: Impossible” fans may recognize Jean Reno.

Reno will always be Godefroy de Montmirail, the bumbling medieval knight who time jumps to the 20th century and sips toilet water in “The Visitors,” according to His agents.

Reno’s dismay, the agency keeps repeating that name.

French people associate Godefroy de Montmirail with stupidity.

Old rivals

The series frequently features Francoise Fabian and Line Renaud’s decades-long feud.

Their real-life reputations and the lures of money and intellect explain their disagreement. Renaud, a prominent musician, was close to right-wing president Jacques Chirac, whereas Fabian, a heavyweight actress, is famed for cerebral masterpieces like “My Night at Maud’s.”

One word alters everything.

In France, the difference between “vous” and “tu” can lead to awkward mistakes and unintentional insults.

The affair between hotshot agent Mathias and his secretary Noemie shows its capacity to establish hierarchy. Despite years of secret bonking, they still speak formally.

After exiting the office with a stack of documents, Mathias asks Noemie to join his new agency at the end of season three.

“Oh, are we utilizing the tu now?” she asks, surprised that after working through the “Kama Sutra” they were now getting grammatically intimate.

Naming matters.

Jean Gabin, the dog, has been in the series since the beginning, at the feet or in the arms of Arlette, the ASK agency matriarch who stalks the halls doing zero work but making razor-sharp comments about her younger coworkers.

The series’ Arlette embodies golden age cinema, hence her dog is named after a French male star.

Yet Gabin was no heartthrob, and her growly dog sounds like “The Human Beast” train engineer Gabin.

That’s it.

TV-watching is educational. Those who know Paris might also enjoy recognizing notable sights or their own neighborhoods in the amazing external shots.


See the latest story here.