Republican Comedy in the National Assembly

Within the National Assembly renewed in June, several elected officials stood out for their sense of controversy. They found nothing: in France, the hemicycle is where politics is dramatized.

“I, I want everyone to have an idea to defend. But what [l’Assemblée] turned into a playground, hasn’t it!” The annoyance of Claude Bartolone, President of the National Assembly from 2012 to 2017, must have been shared by many of his predecessors and successors. And most importantly: he didn’t miss the news.

In recent weeks, in the National Assembly, this has happened hand held out in a triangular shape from ecologist Sandrine Rousseau, invokes a well-known symbol in feminist circles, but a bit abstruse to its counterparts. A month later, a Member of the National Society shouts at his colleague describing the migrant boat drama: “Let him go back to Africa!” Unable to tell whether these projections were aimed at deputies, blacks, or at ships, representatives from all sides have expressed their condemnation and disappointment, except for the extreme right.

While the most beautiful speeches of deputies are regularly republished or performed by comedians, some of those distributed do not deserve to remain in history.

The insults and ridicule were broadcast live

Has the French National Assembly become a caricatured agora where, far from quiet debate, elected officials vie to put themselves forward? In fact, if social networks and their individual accounts facilitate the self-promotion of powerful personalities to the detriment of groups or parties, there is nothing new in the history of the French Republic. The Hemicycle has long been a place where elected officials can demonstrate their eloquence, humor or sense of duty.. Without it always fly very high!

While the most beautiful speeches of deputies are regularly republished or performed by comedians, some of those distributed do not deserve to remain in history. It’s easy to see: since the direct transmission of questions to the government, from 1982, and with the establishment, in 2000, of parliamentary channels, the life of deputies has become familiar to French people. At a time when television offerings were curtailed, many children waiting for Wednesday afternoon cartoons went to channel FR3 to find that the cursing, insults, and taunts punished at school were popular with politicians…

“I was struck by how similar the minutes of the sessions were, in form, drama…”

Theo Delemazur

PhD student in computer science and creator of the “Théâtre Bourbon” website.

Bourbon Theatre

The uniqueness of this debate inspired Théo Delemazure, who compiled it in a the site is called the Bourbon Theatre (from the name of the palace which houses the National Assembly, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris). In explaining his approach, the computer science doctoral student explained his wish list of “perform texts of the French national troupe” (a nod to the Comédie Française), “is made up of 577 full-time actors, with diverse ideas, who perform improv shows for France on various themes, most of the year. Eleven “works” are already listed in the repertoiree, from the debate on purchasing power to the health situation.

Théo Delemazure launched his website in the summer of 2022. Inspired by the new Assembly? “In fact, I started working on the data from the National Assembly and I was surprised by how similar the minutes of the sessions were, in form, drama… elsewhere, I had the opportunity to meet those who wrote this review and them too often has the feeling of copying theatrical dialogue!”

The deputies joke

Computer scientists immediately set up a Twitter account (OutOfContext_AN) to compile summaries the exchange is taken out of context, as the name suggests. The result is delicious, like this swap:

  • Elisabeth Borne, Prime Minister: “The government has acted!
  • Several deputies from the National Rally and the Republican Party: “That is wrong!
  • Some of the majority deputies: “That’s right !

We found MPs mastering popular culture, well with a reference to TV presenter Stéphane Bern, to the song Antisocial by the group Trust or, as a member of the Renaissance party, to Star Wars. This chosen Macronist is clearly a big fan of the saga, quoting Master Yoda (“Anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to suffering”) and Luke Skywalker (“I thought there was still some good in you”).

Some debates are more conducive jokelike in a wind turbine.

  • Sébastien Jumel (Democrat and Republican Left): “I will quote one writer who reached a consensus on this hemicycle: Victor Hugo. I found a note he wrote in 1825 in…
  • … wind turbines?“, interrupted Sylvain Maillard (Renaissance).

This same deputy, deeply inspired by the subject, would explain that “in Paris, we don’t have wind turbines, but we do have [Anne] Hidalgo [la maire de la capitale]: everyone has their own problems!” Did he prepare the excursion? Knowing that, in Cervantes’ novel, Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha fights against windmills, his joke is very popular… This infrastructure will also allow the elect of La France Insoumise to release that there was a “cut by a knife”.

The schoolboy humor and reigning aggressiveness of the National Assembly could lead one to believe that these elected representatives are faithful enough to represent French society.

Sometimes a way out of context allows you to find desperate argument: “Please adopt one of our amendments before the end of the session, that would be great fun!” Request a representative. The most surprising thing is that it works. The analysis of others for clarification of a text also makes us smile: “We tell ourselves we don’t understand because we are stupid (‘not excluded!’, launches a colleague), either we understand well, and then we are considered idiots !”

Democratic circus?

“There is nothing more difficult than talking on a hemicycle”, revealed François Fillon in 2016, before his wife’s fictitious job brought him other difficulties. “It’s a circus, Parliament!”, he stressed, before concluding that he saw in it “symptoms of a political system that is no longer working”. The schoolboy humor and reigning aggressiveness of the National Assembly, on the other hand, may lead one to believe that these elected representatives are faithful enough to represent French society.

Best performance of the National Assembly

Jean-Luc Melenchonto a deputy who winced loudly as he quoted Karl Marx: “You can read it, Karl Marx, it’s not banned. I read it all! Have you read it? It would surprise me, it would make you smarter!”

Christian Taubirato Éric Ciotti who challenged him: “Though all these years, you have kept something mysterious to me. awe-inspiring!”

Thomas Thevenoudwhile the Assembly was debating homosexual marriage: “The only virtue of the duration of this debate is to enable us to appreciate the variety, quality, diversity of colors of Mr. Mariton’s sweaters [opposé à la loi]. At the end of the week, we’ll see all the colors of the rainbow!”

Jacob Christianalways during the long and noisy debates about the law legalizing same-sex marriage: “The disease au chocolat has arrived and I would like to ask you at this opportunity to suspend the session for half an hour, so that we at least take time for breakfast!”

John Lassalleduring the driver’s license debate: “You know, not everyone is a representative among those who have lost their driver’s license, so there are some who don’t have the same income! Even though mine is average, basically…” His very long speech, full of digressions , making the deputies and ministers present that day laugh a lot…

Jean Lassalle also stands out for distracting Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy in 2003 by singing the Pyrenean national anthem during his speech, or for wearing a yellow vest on a hemicycle during social movements.

François Ruffinas he began his second term: “I have decided to adopt a new style that is less angry, more calm. But when I hear you, believe me, it is very difficult!”

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