The French satire news show Le Petit Journal recently made fun of a speech made by Swiss president Johann Schneider-Ammann. The speech, made to commemorate Switzerland’s day of the sick on 1 March 2016, recommends laughter to those suffering from illness. The message however, is delivered with no trace of humour. This absence of humour now has many following the president’s good advice.
In the same show, the French presenter Yann Barthès, who seems to have been inspired by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, does not confine his satirical jibes to the Swiss president. France’s president Francois Hollande gets dressed down for decorating the crown prince of Saudi Arabia with the legion d’honneur, despite the regime having beheaded 70 people since January.
The following video is the original speech by Johann Schneider-Ammann. Key parts of his speech are translated below.
“You are probably going to ask yourself why the president of the confederation speaks of laughter on this day of the sick, as if a sick person would want to laugh”.
“Laughing is good for your health, according to an old saying. Genuine laughter with someone is a moment of true happiness. All of us can offer a moment of joy to those close who have fallen ill. No training is required.”
“Entertainment with clowns has also been organised at medico-social centres.”
“You might be wondering why we laugh. A mocking laugh is not a good one in my opinion.”
This next video shows the offending episode of Le Petit Journal. The portion of the show about the Swiss president starts at 23:45.
President Schneider-Ammann might have lacked expression in this video, however French is not his first language, and one of four he speaks fluently. As well as German, his mother tongue, he also speaks, French, Italian and English.
Born in 1952, he is a Swiss businessman and member of the Liberal Radical Party (PLR). The son of a vet he was born in Sumiswald, Bern, graduated as an electrical engineer from ETH Zürich in 1977, and obtained an MBA from INSEAD in France in 1983. He was elected to Switzerland’s national council in 1999 and appointed Switzerland’s president late last year for a one year term, that started on 1 January 2016.