We all know what happens when President Mauricio Macri is invited onto international stages with a microphone and surrounded by people he knows: he likes to make jokes and banter, but it’s not necessarily as cool as it sounds and sometimes makes for some extremely awkward moments.
Speaking at the Opening Discussion of the Clinton Foundation’s annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), moderated by former US president Bill Clinton, Macri invited him to 2018 G20 Summit, which will be held in Buenos Aires. What he said, at least according to local media, sounds pretty nifty: “[…] my wife Juliana Awada will be expecting you at the G20 in Buenos Aires as first gentleman.”
Except, um not really. Let’s take a look at the video:
Awkward Macri strikes again. pic.twitter.com/YOB46YYvAE
— The Bubble (@TheBubbleAR) September 19, 2016
OK so he did say he’ll wait for him in 2018, but for the life of us we can’t hear him mention Awada’s name. And then he says something about “be your friend”? Huh? Maybe he was trying to say that Awada would be his friend? Unlike how most Argentine media has portrayed the moment, it was actually on the back of a comment made by Italian Primer Minister Matteo Renzi, joking that his wife would see Clinton at the G7 in Sicily next year. Worse: it was really, really awkward as Macri faltered somewhat and the applause, originally for Renzi, died down as he finished talking. Timing is the key to comedy, Mr. president, don’t ever forget it. (Yes, we’re ignoring the weirdness that it is to have a bunch of men joking about one of their own doing a job that is traditionally seen as a woman’s role but that seems to be a discussion for another day.)
Alongside Macri were the mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Macri had managed to pull off a quip that wasn’t excruciatingly painful earlier on, directed at Sadiq Khan:
“Matteo Renzi and I came [to previous CGIs] as [serving] mayors so be careful Mayor [Khan], things can get much more complicated,” said Macri with a smile.
At least he got a small round of applause for that one.
Look, we don’t have a naturally funny president. It’s fine. Politicians trying too hard to be funny is like when people explain jokes: it never works. And sometimes it can cause trouble too. At the G20 in China, Macri tried to make a soccer joke with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and it fell flat, La Nación reported today. Apparently, Macri told him Lionel Messi and Argentina were going to be the big surprise of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and would win the tournament. Putin “looked at him seriously and asked, through the translator, whether he was joking,” according to La Nación‘s source.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t try to pull any stand up comedy tomorrow, when he’ll be giving an opening speech at the 71st United Nations General Assembly session. Although Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon did dance Gangnam Style that one time, we’re thinking that testing the organization’s humor when speaking for the first time ever might be a little too risky.