Oh, Canada: The Palin prank explained

Translating some of those Quebecois jokes you may not get.

By Cyrus Farivar

Published November 3, 2008 4:00PM (EST)

Probably the best thing I read this weekend was the fact that Sarah Palin got pranked in a call by the Montreal comedy duo Les justiciers masqués (the Masked Avengers). The call, which goes on for nearly seven minutes, is full of French and French Canadian references, all of which are lost on the hapless governor -- and apparently on the Washington Post, which failed to translate some of the best parts of the joke. Fortunately for you guys, my French skills and the Internet helped me figure out the rest.

Thanks to the Globe and Mail for a fuller, and more accurate, transcript than the one provided by CTV via the Washington Post -- which, however, included the first few seconds in its transcript.

Around 0:04:

RADIO HOST: Hi, this is (French name), I am with president Sarkozy, on the line for Gov. Palin.

The actual name used was "Franc Ouvrier" -- which means Frank Worker -- as in generic French worker.

Anyway, back to the Globe and Mail's transcript:

Around 1:00:

A: I follow your campaigns closely with my special American adviser Johnny Hallyday, you know?

Johnny Hallyday, as anyone who's ever taken a French class or traveled to France ought to know, is France's biggest aging rock star, who sings in French, but in a "yeah-yeah" (or, in French, yé-yé), America circa 1950s-influenced style. According to the BBC, Hallyday supported Sarkozy in the 2007 French presidential election.

Around 2:05:

A: Exactly, we could try go hunting by helicopter like you did. I never did that. Like we say in French, on pourrait tuer des bebe phoques, aussi.

"Le phoque" is the French word for seal, and comedically, it sounds a lot like the English word "fuck."

So the sentence in French means: "We could go kill baby seals, too."

Around 2:50:

That's the thing that I said to my great friend, the prime minister of Canada Stef Carse.

As the governor of a state that borders Canada, you'd think that Palin would know that the prime minister of Canada is actually Stephen Harper. Also, Stef Carse is a famous Quebecois country singer.

Around 3:10:

A: I was wondering because you are so next to him, one of my good friends, the prime minister of Quebec, Mr. Richard Z. Sirois, have you met him recently? Did he come to one of your rallies?

Richard Z. Sirois is one of the co-hosts of Audette and Trudel's radio show, "Les Cerveaux de l'info," on CKOI-FM in Montreal.

Also, while to an American ear the "prime minister of Quebec" sounds obviously false, the Masked Avengers' Wikipedia page notes:

Although the term they used was in fact "Prime Minister of Quebec," this is merely an atypical usage and not an inherently incorrect or deliberately misleading one. While Canadian English has a usage convention of reserving the title "Prime Minister" for the Prime Minister of Canada and using "Premier" for the equivalent position in a province or territory, in their actual meanings the terms are strictly interchangeable. Furthermore, Canadian French does not have separate words for the two positions, using premier ministre for both -- accordingly, when speaking English, Canadian francophones will often refer to the prime minister of a province.

Around 4:05:

A: Yes, in French it's called de rouge a levre sur un cochon, or if you prefer in English, Joe the Plumber ... it's his life, Joe the Plumber.

"Rouge à sur un cochon" means "lipstick on a pig."

Around 5:02:

A: Gov. Palin, I love the documentary they made on your life. You know Hustler's Nailin' Paylin?

This, of course, is a reference to the recent porn film "Nailin' Paylin."

The pranksters then let Gov. Palin in on the joke and she promptly hung up on them.

The Masked Avengers have their own official YouTube channel, but don't have some of their other famous pranks, including this call with the real President Sarkozy. These guys have also pulled off pranks against Bill Gates, Britney Spears and former French President Jacques Chirac.

I wasn't able to find links to online audio for those calls but would love to hear them. Anyone else able to locate them? Merci d'avance!

Cyrus Farivar

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