Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sarko: a punch line

Amid France’s Woes, Satirists Turn to Sarkozy, as a Punch Line Comedians’ growing boldness is a sign of unhappiness with the government as it struggles with rising unemployment and worker anger.

In a time of economic crisis, and in the absence of effective political opposition, there is derision — of those in power, especially the king. That is not to say that revolution is around the corner, but simply that humor punctures power and helps to cure a sense of powerlessness.

Laughter can be good medicine.

This elected king, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, with his aggressive personality, is a seemingly endless fount of material for the satirists, whose increasing boldness is a sign of deeper unhappiness with the government as it struggles with rising unemployment and worker anger.

“We comedians are lucky to have someone colorful and easy to caricature, a little like American comedians with George Bush,” said Stéphane Guillon, one of the fiercest satirists now working in France. “Sarkozy is a godsend for comedians, and if I exaggerate I should say that Sarko is a treasure chest of blunders all by himself. I really don’t know how to thank him.”

What with his body language (although that might be so French the French don't find it funny, still it seems so rich a lode to mine), his pronouncements and his arrogance, he seems, well, easy to caricature.

Mr. Sarkozy has brought an unrestrained crassness to the presidency that has unleashed comedians, Mr. Guillon said.

Unrestrained crassness; interesting term.

Mr. Guillon tried to explain what he portrayed as Mr. Sarkozy’s obsession with President Obama this way: “It’s kind of understandable. For months, Sarkozy was the leader of Europe. Of the world even. And now he’s forced to be just the president of France. I hope we’ll be good enough for him.” After six months of dealing with the Middle East and the Caucasus, “now he has to try to resolve our little problems of losers, unemployment, social security. “You get the feeling we’re annoying him sometimes.”

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