Useful Notes: Boris Johnson
"You canít rule out the possibility that beneath the carefully constructed veneer of a blithering idiot there lurks a blithering idiot."
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson
—Boris, in a rare display of political self-awareness
is a UK Conservative politician, Mayor of London, journalist, novelist, historian, classicist, and TV personality.
He's also the secondnote
most famous Tory bicyclist after fellow Eton and Oxford alum (and Bullingdon Club member) David "ignore that car behind me" Cameron
. Easily recognizable by his unruly mop
of blond hair, general air of amiable distraction, and tendency to talk like somebody out of P. G. Wodehouse
(but not The Jeeves
, as pointed out by e.g. Arnold Schwarzenegger
A journalist covering politics and cars, and editor of The Spectator
magazine, he came to major fame with an appearance on Have I Got News for You
. He was a journalist only known - and then only really to other journalists - for an audio tape of a phone call in which he agrees to help an old school friend of his beat up another journalist. Ian Hislop had a transcript of this which he used to mock Johnson, which he hadn't been expecting; following this, he claimed in his column that the show was entirely scripted.
And then reappeared on the show later to retract this, reassuring "all the little children out there" that the show was indeed entirely spontaneous, and admitting that he's agreed to come back purely for the money
. He also appeared later as a repeated guest host.
Appears to be immune to embarassment: Did I Just Say That Out Loud?
, Is This Thing Still On?
, Digging Yourself Deeper
, and That Came Out Wrong
are almost exclusively invoked by other people, no matter how deep he inserts his feet in his mouth.
On a different note, he is probably the most ethnically-mixed political person of significance living today after Barack Obama
himself, being not only English but American (born in New York
, which means it is possible for him to be the only man ever to have served as Mayor of London and President of the United States), French, German, Russian, and Turkish. He's the whole Crimean War
in one messy blond package!
Tropes applicable to Boris Johnson:
- Altum Videtur: Is fond of making Latin and classical Greek quotations. Once dodged a question from Jeremy Paxman himself by saying "Look, Jeremy, I would hesitate to accuse you of ignoratio elenchi, but...", reducing Paxman to confusion.
- Badass Bystander: Once saved a woman from teenage thugs ("oiks"); no job is too big for the Mayor.
- Even more badass: the woman was one of his inveterate press critics. After the incident, she said that while she preferred that he not be Mayor of London, she would much rather have Johnson nearby on his bike in case of her getting mugged than the Labour alternative (Ken Livingstone).
- Blue Blood: Who Do You Think You Are? uncovered that he is a distant descendant of King George II, which also makes him related to nearly every single European Royal Family.
- Born in the Wrong Century
Paul Merton: Boris is the right man to lead us back into the seventeenth century!
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer
- But Not Too Foreign: As mentioned, he's a multiethnic cocktail comparable to Barack Obama.
- Do Not Call Me Paul: Accidentally lost points once because he gave his name on HIGNIFY as "Boris", when it was pointed out that his first name according to his birth certificate, is legally "Alexander".
- The Casanova
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander
- Crazy Awesome: Invoked frequently, and indeed, one of the reason he's so successful as a politician.
- Colbert Bump: See Have I Got News for You. Also, the Guardian told people not to vote for him, which always seems to work (in reverse).
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: "I could not fail to disagree with you less" (won the Plain English Campaign's "Foot in Mouth" award)
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: "Badgers badgers badger badger badgers" is in fact, as he claims, "a perfectly grammatical declarative English sentence".
- The Ditz
- Ensemble Darkhorse: Invoked frequently. No matter your political stance, it's clear the British people love Boris.
- Mr. Fanservice: Even to many that can't stand his politics. Or as one Guardian columnist put it: "It's that sodding hair."
- Everyone Went to School Together: Overlapped at school and university with David Cameron, albeit not in the same year.
- Fan Nickname: "BoJo". Or as Alan Duncan MP put it: "With those initials, you don't want to use them on their own".
Richard Herring: "Never do that with Pete Docherty, do they?"
- Fee Fi Faux Pas: A lot. Has so far had to apologize officially to, among others, the entire populations of Liverpool, Portsmouth and Papua New Guinea.
In the latter case:
"I meant no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I'm sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us...I will happily add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apology
- First Name Basis: Everyone calls him Boris. He's one of the few people in British politics that are identified solely by their first name.
- Hot Scoop: Used to be a journalist, and long-term editor of The Spectator.
- Identical Grandson: His father Stanley and brother Jo both have the same idiosyncratic hair. In another sense, he has worried that his career as a journalist and politician is paralleling that of his Turkish great-grandfather Ali Kemal...given that the latter was eventually executed by Ataturk.
- The Immune: It has been noted (for example, in this BBC article) that gaffes and scandals that would end the career of any other politician only seem to make Boris stronger. After getting stuck on a zipwire for twenty minutes, cutting an absurd figure as he hung over the Thames waving two small Union Flags, David Cameron noted "If any other politician got stuck on a zipwire, it would be disastrous. With Boris it's a triumph".
- Messy Hair: Chronically and iconically so. It's also so blond it's almost white.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: What many, including Paul Merton, have come to suspect. With a side of Beware the Silly Ones - not just in politics, but also on the soccer field: watch him pull a rugby tackle during a supposedly "friendly" game.
- It's generally agreed that he's not as daft as he appears to be. Nobody is as daft as Boris appears to be.
- One of Us: When he was re-elected in 2012, the day the election result was announced happened to be May 4th, International Star Wars Day. Boris ended his (otherwise entirely serious in content) victory speech with "May the Force be with you!"
- Overly Long Name
- Politician Guest Star: To the point where there is a special part of the HIGNFY DVD collection called "The full Boris".
- Renaissance Man: See intro.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Combines this with a set of "oh, gosh", "um, ah" placeholder noise VerbalTics to rather odd effect, leading Russell Howard to speculate that when really excited, "he'd sound like a thesaurus going through a blender".
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: He often falls foul of this. For example, the now infamous 'coalition sausage' interview. Or as Martin Clunes put it:
- The Starscream: Widely held to be this to Cameron, with ambitions of his own to be PM.
- Totally Radical: A (probably) intentional example:
"Yes, cannabis is dangerous, but no more than other perfectly legal drugs. It's time for a rethink, and the Tory party - the funkiest, most jiving party on Earth - is where it's happening."
- Troll: It's entirely possible that he intentionally peppers his speech with as much Altum Videtur and Sidetracked by the Analogy as he can whenever he talks to Jeremy Paxman, just to screw with him.
- Upper-Class Twit: How he initially tends to come across, though see Obfuscating Stupidity. On the other hand, for the public image, see also this and this
- Verbal Tic: His iconic and idiosyncratic mumble.
- Worthy Opponent: Seems to regard Ken Livingstone as this in both his victory speeches, though it didn't stop them having shouting matches during the campaign.