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‘It’s OK, you’re allowed to laugh’

It’s not easy for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to make light of world events. Every day, he is required to comment with solemnity and pathos on the world’s afflictions: a car bombing in Iraq or Afghanistan, a bloody crackdown on protesters in Syria, a flood in Pakistan, an earthquake in Haiti, or the prospects ...

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

It’s not easy for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to make light of world events. Every day, he is required to comment with solemnity and pathos on the world’s afflictions: a car bombing in Iraq or Afghanistan, a bloody crackdown on protesters in Syria, a flood in Pakistan, an earthquake in Haiti, or the prospects of a nuclear war with North Korea. But as the holiday season approaches, bringing a host of year-end anniversary events, Ban gets an opportunity to crack wise now and again.

Which begs a serious question: How funny is the secretary general?

I scoured the record for a collection of Ban’s most memorable comic moments. Frankly, most of the jokes are on the corny side, and I had trouble deciphering a few of the punch lines. But the spectacle of a man with barely a single strand of comedic DNA in his system and plagued with bad timing playing for laughs has produced some humorous moments. "I’m going to be a little bit funny this evening so I hope you will bear with me," Ban warned in a typical disclaimer during the U.N. Correspondents Association’s awards banquet last year.

Read the full article.

 

 

Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. @columlynch

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