The musical is real but Macron’s phone calls might not be – POLITICO

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly comedy column.

If I told you that early next year you could go to London and watch a musical based on the life, loves and disputes of Silvio Berlusconi which features songs such as “Bunga Bunga” and “My Weekend With Vladimir”, you would, rightly, suppose the annual contest of who can drink the most sherry in a minute at POLITICO Towers took place earlier than usual.

But it’s true. The musical – simply titled “Berlusconi” and described by its producer as “Evita on acid” – hits the stage in London in March 2023.

Berlusconi once played a practical joke – and the word joke carries a lot of weight in this sentence – on Angela Merkel, jumping from behind a monument and shouting “hello” to the then German Chancellor during a summit in Trieste to discuss the economic crisis.

Pranksters are, as we all know, juvenile. But when they target politicians, it can be telling.

Russian comedians Vovan and Lexus managed to get their hands on Polish President Andrzej Duda the day a missile landed in Poland and impersonated Frenchman Emmanuel Macron. To Duda’s credit, he must have been so stressed at the time that he didn’t notice the fake Macron’s terrible French accent. The Polish president, however, should have been wary because the same pranksters tricked him in 2020 by posing as United Nations Secretary General António Guterres (and made Duda admit that Donald Trump had not called him to congratulate him of his recent electoral victory).

Speaking of the former (and likely next) US President, in 2019 Boris Johnson revealed that Trump tried to call him while on a trip to the UK and Johnson hung up because he thought – wrongly, it turns out it was a prank (the call, not the Trump presidency, which was a giant prank on the world).

But the greatest success for pranksters can come when the victim knows the person they’re supposed to be talking to, but doesn’t know enough about them to realize they’ve been tricked. This is why a series of pranks involving a fake Armenian Prime Minister have been so successful for Vovan and Lexus.

In 2018, this man Johnson again had an 18-minute phone conversation with someone he believed to be Nikol Pashinyan (although since it was Johnson, at least half of that time was probably “errr” and ” ahhhh”). The following year, the same pranksters got their hands on Jean-Claude Juncker and Federica Mogherini (then respectively president of the European Commission and head of EU foreign policy). Presumably, all this tampering made it very difficult for the real Pashinyan to talk to high-ranking politicians, because everyone thought he was a prankster.


“You have to be the prime minister this week.”

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Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best of our mailbag – there’s no price other than the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than money or booze.

“You see, it’s loneliness at the top”, by Ivan Declercq.

Paul Dalison is POLITICS‘s publisher of slot machine news.


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