The current president of Ukraine is Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky defeated incumbent President Petro Poroshenko with 73% of the vote in April, 2019. He is now at the center of a controversy regarding a whistleblower complaint within the United States Intelligence service that purports to indicate that President Donald Trump improperly pressured Zelensky to assist him in his electoral campaign, particularly in trying to besmirch Joe Biden. Prior to his election as president, Zelensky, who is Jewish, was a comedian and actor who appeared in numerous movies and television shows. One of Zelensky’s roles was as the lead character in Servant of the People. What was the plot of Servant of the People?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
A. The TV show Servant of the People was a comedy created by Zelensky, based on the movie The Butler, by Lee Daniels. In the movie, Zelensky plays a butler, Fedir Tereshchenko, who worked in the Ukrainian president’s residence. Unlike Cecil Gaines, the title character in The Butler, Tereshchenko is a bumbling idiot who accidentally walks in on a secret sexual dalliance involving the president and a Russian spy. Despite efforts by the president to have Tereshchenko assassinated, the secret is exposed, Tereshchenko becomes a national hero, and is ultimately elected president following the resignation of the disgraced leader.
B. The television show Servant of the People was a comedy/political satire about a Ukrainian high school history teacher, Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko (played by Zelensky), whose rant about government corruption was filmed by a student. The video was uploaded to the internet where it went viral, eventually leading to Holoborodko being elected president of Ukraine.
C. Based on stories he had heard of ways that waitstaff in restaurants often prank rude diners, Zelensky began working as a waiter in restaurants in the Ukraine, and engaged other waitstaff in conversations about their actions, including spitting in food, “accidentally” tripping and spilling drinks on obnoxious diners, and other bad behavior. Zelensky secretly recorded those conversations, which formed the basis of a viral YouTube video, which he entitled Servant of the People.
D. Zelensky starred as a synagogue Shabbos goy in the movie Servant of the People. As the High Holidays approached, the congregation’s rabbi was suffering from panic attacks which were making it impossible for him to write his holiday sermons. Afraid to tell any congregants of his problem, the rabbi sat in his office in panic, until the Shabbos goy noticed his dispair and approached him. Though a simple man, the Shabbos goy’s gift was the ability to listen, and after many conversations over the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Shabbos goy not only served his people by turning on the lights, but ultimately by empowering the rabbi to complete his sermon.
E. The television series Servant of the People is about an American president, Ronald Drumpf, played by Zelensky, who is running for reelection. He reaches out to his Ukrainian counterpart for help in his campaign, promising huge financial support to Ukraine as long as the Ukrainian president provides dirt on Drumpf’s political opponent. The political intrigue was exposed when a U. S. intelligence officer filed a whistleblower complaint against the American president. The president denied the charges before admitting them while claiming that there was nothing improper about what he did. Drumpf’s spokesperson, Judy Ruliani, who was also involved in the nefarious plot, went on a national news show to speak about her role in the sordid affair. “I never ever ever ever ever spoke to the Ukrainians about President Drumpf’s opponent,” said Ruliani. “Really. Never. Not at all. No way. The only thing I did do was speak to the Ukrainians about President Drumpf’s opponent.” The series was canceled after only two episodes as the Ukrainian audience found it to be so absurdly unbelievable, even for a satirical comedy.
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