Posted on Jan 8, 2016

    That Hilarious Tony Blair and Bill Clinton Transcript About Punching Ham Is Fake

    But just this once, fiction is stranger than truth.

    Here's what you need to know: On Thursday a large batch of genuine transcripts covering telephone calls between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton in the late 1990s went viral.

    Clinton Presidential Library

    Many aspects of them were bizarre including Clinton's repeated references to bananas, cashmere jumpers, and eating moose lips. Meanwhile, Blair comes across as a patient man putting up with his friend's strange ramblings while waiting to discuss weighty issues such as whether to bomb Serbia.

    You can read BuzzFeed's round-up of the strangest phone calls here.

    Seizing on their weird folksy charm, the comedian Michael Spicer started producing his own fake transcripts, imagining further calls between the two men – such as this one about Clinton going bowling.

    Michael Spicer

    He created this believable reminiscence about tuition fees.

    Michael Spicer

    And then there was this perfectly normal rant about Leeds Castle being in Kent.

    Michael Spicer

    And then Spicer posted a fake transcript about Bill Clinton punching a ham. And everything got a bit surreal as it started to spread across the internet.

    Michael Spicer

    It started to go viral on Twitter, stripped of all context. And quite understandably people really, really wanted to believe the story about the ham.

    Seriously, some of the Blair/Clinton transcripts are frankly, utterly ridiculous #Ham

    If you are not reading the Clinton-Blair messages doing the rounds, you are missing a treat. 16 plates. And a ham.

    Blair-Clinton phone chats. It's like Tarantino scripted them. Do read all five then go and punch a ham.

    Like Bill Clinton, I've also wondered why Leeds Castle is in Kent. Never punched a ham though.

    Pretty soon heavyweight political journalists were wanting to get the inside line on Clinton punching a ham with Blair.


    Sadly for everyone, unless the government is hiding something it appears Clinton didn't punch hams with Blair.

    Spicer told BuzzFeed it was so easy to parody the tone of the original calls because they were so bizarre: "Clinton seems to be forever wandering off the subject like an eccentric relative while Blair remains impartial and bland. You can almost sense Blair embarrassingly picking imaginary fluff off this trousers. I replicated that but pushed it just an inch further."

    And the comedian said the pairing works well because it has all the farce of situation: "It's just a believable double act I guess. I've been reading a lot of Alan Bennett recently. Perhaps he's in there somewhere too."

    Here's one final transcript on the ham, courtesy of Spicer.



    A (genuine) spokesperson for Tony Blair told BuzzFeed News: "I can confirm TB has never punched ham, nor any form of meat, meat-related products or substitutes with Bill Clinton."

    Well we're glad that's all cleared up then.

    Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Jim Waterson at

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