Anorak News | Laughs Sans Frontieres

Laughs Sans Frontieres

by | 5th, July 2005

‘IN the spirit of the entente cordiale, let us now say that Jacques Chirac stinks of garlic.

‘In thirty years let’s be laughing together’

And we mean that as a compliment. Smelling of garlic is an attractive thing, and much better than smelling of British chips, burgers and pickled eggs.

Eating garlic can also improve your stamina, making the minute-man into the minute-and-three-second man.

But there is a danger with this edgy humour that it gets taken in the wrong way. For instance, how would the British feel if Chirac was heard to say: “The only thing the English have given European agriculture is the mad cow.”

Come on, as the Express says, he’s “Jacques the joker”, a lovable rogue, more Freddie Starr than Bill Hicks but no less the hilarious for it.

And in any case, let’s give the French President a sympathetic round of applause (and a delicious round of fish paste sandwiches). It’s no small task to get Germany’s Gerhard Schroeder and Russia’s Vladimir Putin to laugh.

Confronted with such an audience like that, a crowd harder to please than a charabanc of OAPs escaping the summer rains at the end of Cannes pier, Chirac the professional ploughed on.

Only a skilled surgeon of comedy can find their funny bones, let alone tickle them until they laugh.

So watch now you students of comedy as Chirac moves in for the kill in the Mail. A roll on the turkey drummers, if you please. “We can’t trust people who have such bad food. After Finland it’s the country with the worst food.”

Of course he’s not being serious. How can he be? His jokes are as anachronistic as the one about spotting when a Frenchman’s been in your garden. Vorsprung durch Slapstick, as they say in the Reichstag.

But not everyone has taken the joke in good part. In the Sun’s front-page story “DON’T TALK CREPE”, illustrated by head shots of our finest chefs (Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith, Gordon Ramsay et al) and a plate of chicken tikka massala (that’s the one without the tongue), the Sun responds.

Inside the paper, readers with mouthfuls of reconstituted egg and pinkish bacon-style meat-style substance nod in agreement as restaurant critic Egon Ronay says of Chirac: “A man full of bile is not fit to pronounce on food.”

Not bad for a first course. But revenge is a dish best served covered in dripping and by celebrity chef Brian Turner.

“I dare him to try a piece of quality beef,” says Turner, “look me in the eyes and try to pretend it isn’t some of the best he has tasted.”

Some challenge that. But surely if we want to give Chirac his just desserts, we should refuse to laugh – even when he has his face pushed into a mountainous pile of crème anglais pie…

Paul Sorene’

Posted: 5th, July 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink