HAVE you heard the one about the Scotsman, the Englishman and the Catalans?
The finer distinctions between independence movements in Britain and Spain may not seem the most obvious source of humour.
But this week a hit satire show on Barcelona's TV3s somehow managed to find some laughs in the comparison. And, in doing so, become the first international broadcaster to lampoon our first minister.
The show, called Polònia, was pretty gentle on Alex Salmond, using him to mock Catalunya's own squabbling independentistas.
But this - perhaps more than wall-to-wall media coverage on the indyref in Catalunya - was as a sure a sign as any of just how international a figure the Scottish leader is becoming.
The Scottish referendum - and sorry for constantly stressing this point - isn't just a big deal for those who get to vote. It's a big deal too for those, such as the Catalans, who are not getting a say on their country's future.
Catalunya's varied nationalist parties, despite a healthy majority in their parliament, can't seem to make their mind up on how to proceed. Should they defy the hardline ultra-unionist central government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Madrid and hold a vote? Should they have some kind consultative but non-binding ballot? If so, when?
Cue Polònia's gags.
The show's big sketch last night was a group of nationalists (one of them a black Labrador, mocking hippy anti-capitalists) in a room. They invite in an unusually slimline Alex Salmond to a backdrop of bagpipe music. "What should we do?" they ask. "Just set a date and ask people if they want to be independent or not," he answers impatiently and walks out.
Next up a similar office, this time in Madrid. Here a stuttering Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his Socialist opposition leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba invite ask in David Cameron for some advice. "How are you dealing with the Scottish rebels," asks Rajoy with a pen and paper ready to take notes. "Let them vote," responds Cameron curtly, and also exits stage right.
Funny? Maybe not hugely. But this episode of Polònia comes out just a week after Rajoy effectively internationalised our indyref by demonstratively repeating his long-standing view that an independent Scotland would be "outside the EU". Later Madrid papers reported that Rajoy and his Conservative Partido Popular had struck an anti-separatist pact with Cameron. Tories here deny the very idea.
The thrust of the Polònia satire: Salmond and Cameron are portrayed as decisive and democratic; unionists in Madrid and nationalists in Barcelona as feeble, indecisive and foolish.
The show itself, meanwhile, is worth a mention. Its name, the Catalan for Poland, is a direct reference to the sneering Spanish insult for Catalan, Polacos. Anti-Catalan sentiment in Spanish-speaking parts of Spain continues, after all, to be one of the main drivers of the home rule movement. But TV3 has found some humour in that too.
So Catalans are having a laugh about their indy debate. But are we? We may have a vote - but we don't seem to be having much of a laugh about it. Scotland, of course, unlike Catalunya doesn't have its own TV channel to show such a programme, even if somebody had the resources and wit to make one.
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