Published: May 2009 in The Fix, Britain’s foremost comedy magazine
This May you can learn about real (German) humour! Henning Wehn explains
Herr Kuhnle, the funniest man from Düsseldorf – and I – the German Comedy Ambassador – will drag a version of our Edinburgh and Melbourne show 1000 Years of German Humour across Blighty.
Admittedly the show title is a bit of a misnomer as Teutonic jolliness obviously dates back much further than just one magnificent millennium. (Joke number 1)
But let me introduce you to four of the many highlights of German hilarity:
The bat trick
Invented by the Neanderthalers in 40,000 BC this is the world’s oldest piece of physical humour: It involves sneaking up behind a fellow cage man and smacking him one over the head so hard he passes out. Then everyone starts laughing.
Hilarious! There’s still nothing funnier for Germans than seeing someone getting beaten up. Preferably a Dutchman.
Garden gnome taming
With the old Bavarian saying that humour is the little brother of inebriety in mind it doesn’t come as a surprise that lots of German humour has been invented at beer festivals.
Since medieval times the big social highlight of every beer festival is the performance of the garden gnome tamer. Luckily Herr Kuhnle is one of only 7 officially licensed garden gnome tamers and will bring some of his charges to Britain: Hans, Johann-Wolfgang, Friedrich and Horst, a foster gnome from The Gambia who is forced by Herr Kuhnle to perform the most dangerous tricks.
Expect a rendition of ‘Im Fruehtau zu Berge’, Herr Kuhnle and my favourite German folk songs. It roughly translates as ‘Get up early in the morning so you’ll get a lot done” which is nothing but commonsense so clearly lacking in all that foreign modern music on the radio. All those rubbish songs seemto go along the lines of ‘Uh,uh, I’ll fly to the moon on an orange elephant and once I’m up there I’ll smoke crack cocain, uh, uh”. Pathetic! But don’t worry – German folk music keeps it real. Get up early, identify the problem and then solve it. Bloody result!
Without wanting to reveal too much about the show I can tell The Fix readers that the biggest highlight of German humour is Der Ring der Nibelungen, an old saga turned into a magnificent opera by the likeable composer Richard Wagner in the 19th century. The plot revolves around incestuous love of two twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde and one ring or another. Considering the vulgar content it’s hard to fathom why it’s set on the Rhine rather than the Mersey.
Anyway, the whole opera takes about five days to perform but the first four nothing much happens. In that respect it’s very similar to test cricket. Outside Pakistan, anyway.
If you’re still not decided if 1000 Years of German Humour will be for you let me assure you that it’s not going to be real-time. Mind you, it might feel like it. (Joke number 2)
Auf gehts Deutschland!
Enjoy this blast from the past? Here's some up-to-date live shows coming up..