Facing unprecedented pressure from US sanctions, the threat of war and a failing national currency, Iranians have resorted to a time-tested coping mechanism: a deadpan, caustic humor that has been perfected over centuries.

US President Donald Trump, the usual target of Iran’s self-referential humor, was once again a target earlier this month. On May 9, Trump, in response to a reporter’s question about a potential military confrontation with Iran, stated, "I don't want to say no, but hopefully that won't happen…What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me.” This curious phrasing about a nuanced process prompted the hashtag allô-Trump on Iranian social media, with humorous memes and videos poking fun at the implausibility of the suggestion.

The next day, media reported that the White House had provided a phone number to the Swiss Embassy — America’s protective power in Iran — in case Tehran wants to call to ease the tensions. This reportedly prompted hundreds of prank calls to Switzerland’s diplomatic mission.

Popular Iranian animator Soroush Rezaee, who publishes under the brand SooriLand, made a short clip of Trump being awakened by the proverbial 3 a.m. phone call. In the clip, the phone rings in the middle of the night, and Trump sits up, exclaiming, “It’s the Iranians! They finally called!” But when he picks up the phone, the voice at the other end, adding insult to injury, attempts to sell him a hair-loss treatment. Consecutive callers try to sell the president things, including a vacation package. After a few more calls, Trump laments that his leaked number is in the hands of Iranian telemarketers.

Iranian Twitter user posted an imagined conversation between Trump and the first lady, in which Trump tells Melania, “Stop talking on the phone for so long, maybe [the Iranians] will call and get a busy signal!”

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