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Diplomacy as improvised stand-up comedy

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Mr.İsmail Dümbüllü (1897-1973) was a most beloved comedian in his time in around the mid-twentieth century’s İstanbul of merely one million inhabitants: A lyrical landscape that was dotted with (especially on the Anatolian side) elegant white wood houses in well-trimmed evergreen gardens. Himself too a through and through istanbulite, my late father (1930-2000) even in his fifties (now I myself am over fifty) was still able to relay his mostly single line jokes out of memory.

While mostly repeated a thousand times in almost all of his appearances before the public and generally void of meaning, these had each and every time the same mesmerizing effect on the crowd. A typical example of this well-oiled technique is for example the answer to the question “-how dare you?”, “-fava beans for 35 (piastres).” The rhyme (in Turkish: “-ne hakla? -otuzbeşe bakla!”) and the absurdity, and most of all, the timing of the punchline added all up together. Exclaiming it sometimes right after the question, sometimes after a pause for a few split seconds while the crowd held its breath before exploding into laughter, assured the reliability of the effect.

Improvisation too, as in coming up with an unexpected line at a most unexpected moment, played into Mr.Dümbüllü’s success of holding his gentlemanly and loyal public in the cusp of his hand. His out of the ordinary physiognomy (with thick eyebrows not un-reminding of yours neandertal truly) probably had a strong hand in the play as well. In short, the magic of the art of theatre was there in his each and every single appearance as depicted here-above.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign affairs and Security Policy Mr.Josep Borell visited Turkey........

© Duvar English