The first round of France’s presidential election begins next Sunday, and the comedian echoed the grave sentiments of many political commentators: “It is not an exaggeration to say that, post-Brexit and with a wave of far-right populism sweeping Europe, the fate of the EU may hang on this election,” he warned. “Multiple candidates support a French Brexit, and the consequences of that would be steep.”
After highlighting a few fringe candidates (including Jacques Cheminade, whose platform includes a plan to colonize Mars), Oliver focused on the two frontrunners: 39-year-old former investment banker Emmanuel Macron, a center-left candidate, and Marine Le Pen, leader of far-right populist party National Front.
Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founded the NF in 1972 and was criticized for extreme anti-Semitism and denying the Holocaust. Despite Marine’s reputation for “rehabilitating” the party, she’s displayed similarly disturbing views on immigration and religious tolerance. (In a 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, she remarked that, as president, she would ban wearing head scarves, yarmulkes and turbans in public.)
Oliver admitted that, for Americans, watching the French election from afar gives an eerie déjà vu: “[There’s] a potentially destabilizing populist campaigning on anti-immigrant rhetoric who rages against the elites despite having a powerful father and inherited wealth – even as all the experts reassure us that there is no way this can possibly happen.”
With recent polls suggesting that one-third of French voters might abstain from the election, the comedian appealed to their Frenchness by turning his set into a moody, black-and-white noir scene, smoking cigarettes beside an accordionist. Referencing Brexit and Trump, he spoke in French: “Britain and America fucked up. Don’t fuck up, too.”