"I have a precise idea of the United States because of the movies and TV shows that I watch intensively, but how do they compare with reality? This show is a naïve investigation where ‘cliches’, well known places and archetypal characters are put in question in a very long interview." (Bettina Atala)

In Talk Show, Bettina Atala tries her hand at interviewing a guest in public to find out how much truth there is behind Hollywood’s fictions. Her inquiry takes place live on stage. Ms. Atala has chosen a single, solitary specimen of an American citizen, Sheila, to confront her perceptions of the country and culture with the living experience

"My questions are entirely based on my knowledge of the United States learned through TV shows and movies (and I've seen a lot!)."
(French host Bettina)
"Answers are honest and sometimes illustrated with recipes, songs, dances..."
(American guest Sheila)

Our guest star Sheila Donovan native from Massachusetts, 30 years old, raised on peanut butter sandwiches and glasses of milk, claims to have spent her saturdays at the mall. No details will be left unexplored, high school, college, moving to NY. Our special guest also worked as an investigator. The show will include stand-up comedy routines, promotions by local artists and businesses, and other guest appearances typical of American-style talk shows (late night show).

"When I attended real late night shows in New York, I noticed how the audience was well taken care of. I have been invited, because I was hanging out at the NBC bar at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, to be part of a test audience for Jimmy Fallon's opening monologue. The team of writers explained us the process, and described Late Night With Jimmy Fallon for those who did not know what the show was about. They also asked us, when we found something funny, to laugh harder than we usually do, because our little group of 40 was only a quarter of the real audience. Jimmy Fallon then arrived on stage, explained one more time what the show was about and tried his stand-up on us. He seemed to check boxes next to the jokes that were working, and cross over the ones that were not that successful. Then that evening, for the real show, some bits had disappeared, some bits I already heard were still there, and some new jokes were said. I felt I was part of the show, and that I, as part of the audience, made a difference."

Producing this show has necessitated the use of a "test audience", a cross-section of the general population (about 20 people in each session) whose answers to a detailed questionnaire on the show’s contents modified the project’s dramaturgy. Several of these “consultations” has punctuated the creative process in May 2011.


Bettina Atala on radio France Culture (09/12/2011): invited on the show L'Atelier Intérieur (Aurélie Charon). Listen


Host, conception: Bettina Atala
Sheila Donovan
Ronan Letourneur
Etienne Charry
Length: 1h10
Show in English and French


Executive production 34567films / Partners: Les Spectacles vivants–Centre Pompidou (Paris) and Mac/Val–museum of contemporary art of the Val de Marne (Vitry-sur-Seine). The residency of Bettina Atala in Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers was supported by the Département de la Seine-Saint-Denis