LE PECQ – True or false: When he was the U.S. president, Donald Trump called French leader Emmanuel Macron from the White House to wish him happy birthday, but got the day wrong.
With great relish and a straight face, the French president told that story in a YouTube video that quickly went viral Sunday.
Filmed in the French presidential palace with two of France's most popular YouTube stars, the half-hour of banter, tall tales, and a grungy rendition of “La Marseillaise" by heavy-metal band “Ultra Vomit” represented Macron's most audacious effort yet to woo young voters.
Macron, 43, hasn't yet said if he'll seek reelection in the presidential ballot next year. But one of the takeaways from his playful “anecdote contest” with YouTubers Mcfly and Carlito was that beneath the suit and tie and the buttoned-down trappings of his office, France's youngest president remains a political risk-taker who still gets a thrill and sees electoral capital in shaking up the French establishment and its norms.
Most certainly, he is the first French president to say “oh, merde” — crap — and another naughty word in a YouTube video that racked up 4 million views in eight hours.
His anecdote about Trump calling him on a secure line in 2018 to wish him happy birthday, but on the wrong day, turned out to be a fib, and was correctly identified as such by Carlito. Seeing Macron bending the truth so comfortably, even in jest, was eye-opening. The dude — on the strength of this oh-so-hip video, it seems fine to call Macron that — is a convincing white-liar.
“My birthday is December 21st, and this was December 19th,” Macron said, looking the YouTubers direct in the eye. “He said, ‘I know it’s today,' et cetera. I said ‘Merci’ and pretended everything was fine. I couldn't say, ‘It’s in two days.'"
Likely to win the most cool points from the YouTubers' audience of 6.5 million subscribers was that Macron called up soccer megastar Kylian Mbappé on his mobile phone during the show. The World Cup winner is hugely popular in France. The icon's multitude of fans will have been stunned, as Mcfly and Carlito were, that Macron was able to reach Mbappé so readily, to get the Paris Saint-Germain player to back up another of his anecdotes.
That tale also turned out to be false. Macron claimed that Mbappé would soon leave PSG for its archrival Marseille, the French leader's favorite team. He called up the player and put him on speakerphone to get him to confirm the scoop.
Mbappé refused to play ball.
“Impossible to go to Marseille,” the player told Macron, shooting down his story.
Awarded a point for each anecdote correctly identified as true or false, Macron and the YouTubing duo ended up tied with four points each.
That means both parties now have to complete dares that they committed to at the start of the show.
For Mcfly and Carlito, that means a stomach-churning ride with the French Air Force's formation flying team, the Patrouille de France.
For Macron, he promised that in a future televised address to the nation, he'll put photos of the YouTubers on his desk beside him.
A small price to pay if the stunt lures young voters.