Standing Up follows the lives of four individuals, at different stages of their stand-up comedy careers, as they consistently try to strike balance between the challenges of their personal and professional life.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Bling (Jean Siuen) is a successful stand-up comedy artist who runs a comedy club called Drôle in Paris along with his sister. Nezir (Younes Boucif) and Aïssatou (Mariama Gueye) are struggling comics who are trying to make it big and perform regularly at the club. Nezir works as a delivery boy in the day and Aïssatou is supported by her husband Vlad.
Bling is due to perform at The Olympia in six weeks. Laurent, his and Aïssatou’s manager, pays a visit to check up on his preparation. Bling, who was not performing earlier, decides to take up Nezir’s spot to impress Laurent.
Before Bling, Aïssatou performs her set which includes jokes about physical relations with her boyfriend, and is welcomed with an overwhelming response. She records the video of her performance and decides to upload it on the internet to get some promotion for her show.
On the other hand, Bling takes drugs before taking the stage. In the middle of his act, he gets in a tussle with an audience member who throws beer at him before leaving. Bling storms out of the club.
In the toilet, Nezir meets Apolline (Elsa Guedj), a student with immense interest in stand-up comedy. The next day, Bling gets to know from his manager that The Olympia has been called off after last night’s debacle.
Meanwhile, Nezir has been doing stand-up for three years but has only been making a meager amount of money. With the help of his cousin, he manages to find a better paying job but for that, he will have to quit stand-up. He still decides to perform one last time.
Fortunately, his act is received with warm applause and laughs. Just after the show, Bling offers Nezir a job as a writer with him along with handsome pay. Nezir takes the offer as he can continue his stand-up career this way.
Back home, Vlad has discovered that Aïssatou performed jokes about him in her set. Upset over the effect it could have on his social life, he asks her to delete the video. Just as Aïssatou begins to delete the video, she notices that the video has gone viral.
The next day, her shows get fully booked. Laurent informs her she will be performing at the Palais des Glaces instead of Bling. Bling gets furious when he hears about this change.
Apolline wants to try her hand at stand-up as opposed to her mother’s goals regarding her. She hides her visits to the comedy club from her mother. She manages to get a spot at the club’s newbie lineup. With some support from Nezir, Apolline tries to perform but fails miserably.
Bling, with the help of Nezir, however, manages to put up a better show as Aïssatou continues to face problems with her husband over the viral video. He manages to get a job as a writer on a TV talk show, hosted by Philippe Tifflot, based on the lines he performed, written by Nezir. He gets Nezir to help him again with the promise of half the pay.
But on the very first day of the job, Bling is left clueless as Nezir gets busy spending time with Apolline. Apolline’s friends come to her apartment while she’s with Nezir. She takes drugs at the party. The next day, she’s caught cheating in her exams. She does not tell her parents about it.
A perfect show at the Palais des Glaces gets Aïssatou the opportunity to perform in front of 2000 people at The Olympia. She asks Nezir to perform the opening act.
Much to Bling’s disappointment, Nezir manages to get his job at Tifflot’s talk show. Aïssatou is supposed to appear as a guest on the show. Tifflot manages to get some personal secrets out of Nezir to use in his show without letting him know. In the club, an angry Bling stops everyone including Nezir and Aïssatou from performing. His sister asks him to leave.
Nezir puts up posters for a show in his neighborhood with a line-up of comedians headlined by Aïssatou (being the star). Aïssatou is, however, forced to go to another party with some famous guests coming. Upset with Aïssatou not coming, Nezir still goes ahead with the show. Apolline appears at the show and performs her set again. This time, successfully.
Victor, the son of Apolline’s father’s friend, who’s supposed to meet Apolline that day, comes to her home searching for her. He reveals to her mother about the disciplinary procedure taken against her for cheating in exams.
On being asked about the earlier night, Apolline lies about being with Victor. One day, she follows Apolline to a laundry shop. She discovers that Apolline’s been performing stand-up comedy behind her back. A confrontation follows leading to Apolline leaving the apartment.
After the incident at the club, Bling has a breakdown. He’s helped by Nezir in rediscovering the comedian inside him. At the talk show, Aïssatou, who’s recently discovered about her pregnancy, is grilled by Tiffolt based on the information provided by Nezir. She manages the situation but not without blaming Nezir for his role in it.
With the intent of taking revenge on Tiffolt, Nezir provides him with a plagiarized script for his show. He manages to get back on him and win Aïssatou’s trust but Tiffolt uses his connections to stop Nezir from performing at The Olympia for Aïssatou’s show.
Bling takes his place for the opening act. On the other side, Apolline’s mother suffers from a manic attack. Holding herself guilty, Apolline decides to sever connections with Nezir.
Just before the show at The Olympia, Bling parties and consumes drugs failing to reach the show on time the next day. Aïssatou asks Nezir to take the spot at the final moment. Aïssatou, suffering from the hormonal side-effects of the abortion, is supported by her husband, Vlad.
Both Aïssatou and Nezir put up a great show. After the show ends, Apolline who’s passing by the theatre, along with her mother, sees Aïssatou and Nezir standing outside. As both of them start walking away, they hear footsteps behind them. They turn back to see Apolline running towards them laughingly.
If you have any doubts about the ending, here’s a full breakdown.
Standing Up ending explained in detail:
Nezir had discussed Aïssatou’s life with Tiffolt without realizing that Tiffolt will use the information against her in his show.She sketches a plan to get back on Tiffolt for what he did to Aïssatou.
He gives Philippe a plagiarised script, originally written by Louis C.K., for his next show. Unknowingly, Philippe uses the script on his show, only to be left embarrassed for using a plagiarized set. Seeing Tiffolt get embarrassed provides some redemption to Aïssatou and she reconciles with Nezir.
Just before the show at Olympia, it’s the birthday of Bling’s father, who clearly is not very approving of his son. Distressed by the experience at the birthday party and a little insistence from his friends pushes Bling to indulge in alcohol and drugs that night.
The next day, he wakes up someplace far away from Paris where the show’s supposed to be held. He manages to get a scooter and drive to Paris. But on his way, he’s arrested by the police for driving in the wrong direction and consuming drugs.
Aïssatou, who’s been suffering from hormonal issues post-abortion, arrives at The Olympia for the show. Nezir takes Bling’s spot and performs the opening act instead. He calls his father in the middle of his act and informs him that he’s playing in The Olympia.
Aïssatou suffers another breakdown just before taking the stage, but some words of support by Vlad help her get back on track. She performs her act. The show goes well.
Apolline makes a choice
Apolline’s mother suffers from a manic episode and Apolline tends to her. Nezir tries getting in touch with Apolline. Feeling responsible for her mother’s condition, Apolline tells him that they cannot be seeing each other anymore. She joins Victor for the internship at Christie’s.
On the day of the show, as she is passing by The Olympia, she sees Aïssatou and Nezir standing outside. Nezir and Aïssatou start walking away towards their home when they turn back to see that Apolline has returned. She is laughing.
It’s possible that finally, she has convinced her mother about pursuing stand-up comedy, and this time, she’s here to stay.