First Published in Time Out, April 1st 2008


Henning Wehn explains German Humour


German duo Henning Wehn and Otto Kuhnle are very much wanting to share their laughter revolution with you – all 87,687 minutes of it. Better pay them a visit, or they’ll be visiting you…

Guten Tag! Mein Name ist Henning Wehn and I am German Comedy Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Let me explain: I arrived on these shores in 2002 from the Ruhr valley, the most scenic part of what little is left of the once-great Fatherland. I initially planned to stay in the UK for only 12 months to improve my English, but the good weather, the tasty food and the classy women made me stay. In order to blend in with the locals I decided to get extremely lazy, spend money I don’t have and, most importantly, to unjustifiably bang on about my great sense of humour. This is why I decided 1,646 days, nine hours and 42 minutes ago to try my hand at stand-up and become the German Comedy Ambassador.

It was plain obvious to me from the start that the comedy circuit is one of the most efficient branches of the British service industry. Most gigs run on time, which is something that can’t be said about the public transport to and from the venues. What instantly attracted me to the comedy scene was its Teutonic structure. The fun seems to be based on strict rules, which have to be obeyed at all times.

Even the process of getting booked and the performing itself are also very thorough.
An act will agree with a comedy club promoter months in advance to be funny on a specific date at a specific time for a specific length of time, say June 12 from 9.34pm to 9.53pm. This only goes to show that, like everything else in life, success in stand-up comedy is down to determination and efficiency, which explains why Germans are best suited to do it.

Having performed up and down the UK, I know for a fact that there is a severe lack of yodelling, gnome-juggling, wurst-eating, thigh-slapping and rabbit-in-and-out-of-a-hat routines – the foundations of good entertainment. Hence I have teamed up with Berlin-based German TV entertainer Otto Kuhnle, who is an expert in all those fields. The quality of his set-pieces varies between precise and very precise. Between us we have 87,687 minutes of stage time and can draw on years of experience in intercultural field studies. Herr Kuhnle and I developed ‘A Beginner’s Guide to German Humour’ especially for British audiences. In order to impress them, we add stereotypical props such as lederhosen (short leather trousers), Maßkrug (beer stein) and Gartenzwerge (garden gnomes) to our repertoire.

The show is based on the six iron regeln of the Fatherland’s hilarity bible ‘Lachen, Lachen, Lachen’ (‘Laugh, Laugh, Laugh’).

Regel 1) Be arrogant.

This is why Germans like Australians. It’s just their attempts of coming across as jovial that isn’t consistent with German humour.

Regel 2) No self-deprecation.

How can trying to laugh off failure be regarded as a positive character trait? Nobody deserves to stay in their job simply because they tell the tale of their underachievement in an entertaining way.

Regel 3) Never ever laugh with failure.

Only ever laugh at failure. For example: Stuart Pearce 1990, Gareth Southgate 1996 and Paul Robinson 2007. You get the gist.

Regel 4) Don’t mention the war.

Because we lost. Admittedly we were the moral winners, but merely winning the sympathy vote simply isn’t good enough. We’re not Scottish.

Regel 5) Physical humour is best.

Vorsprung durch slapstick. An old codger falling over or getting a cake in the face is always funny. Even during a famine.

Regel 6) Stand-up comedy is pointless.

The best-case scenario is leaving the stage after plenty of hard work to the same level of applause to which you were initially brought on to the stage. Excitement can only be lost. What a waste of time.

Aren’t all these regeln refreshingly common sense? Definitely a lot more than that mantra of British wit: ‘laughing about everything indicates a great sense of humour’.
It doesn’t. It indicates mental illness.

Hence, be sane and join Herr Kuhnle and my laughter revolution. You will visit us or we will visit you.
Auf Wiedersehen

Posted by Henning Wehn on Tuesday, April 1st, 2008.
Filed Under: Writing



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Enjoy this blast from the past? Here's some up-to-date live shows coming up..

April 2017

1 – LONDON – Leicester Square Theatre – SOLD OUT
2 – LONDON – Leicester Square Theatre – SOLD OUT
5 – LONDON – Leicester Square Theatre – SOLD OUT
6 – LONDON – Leicester Square Theatre – SOLD OUT
7 – LONDON – Leicester Square Theatre – SOLD OUT
8 – LONDON – Leicester Square Theatre – SOLD OUT
27 – BIRMINGHAM – Town Hall – SOLD OUT – Extra dates 13th & 14th October 2017 – TICKETS
28 – SOUTHPORT – The Atkinson – SOLD OUT
29 – DOUGLAS – ISLE OF MAN – The Gaiety Theatre – TICKETS

May 2017

4 – REDHILL – Harlequin – SOLD OUT
5 – NOTTINGHAM – Playhouse – SOLD OUT – Extra date added 25th November – TICKETS
6 – BROMLEY – Churchill Theatre – SOLD OUT
10 – OXFORD – Playhouse – SOLD OUT
11 – STAFFORD – Gatehouse – SOLD OUT
12 – SHEFFIELD – Octagon – SOLD OUT
13 – COLNE – The Muni – SOLD OUT
14 – BUXTON – Opera House – SOLD OUT
19 – BASINGSTOKE – The Anvil – SOLD OUT – Extra date 2nd November – TICKETS
20 – COVENTRY – Warwick Arts Centre Butterworth Hall – SOLD OUT
21 – LEICESTER – The Curve – TICKETS
24 – LONDON – Betsey Trotwood – SOLD OUT – NEW MATERIAL NIGHT – NOT A SHOW
26 – WESTON SUPER MARE – The Playhouse – SOLD OUT
27 – YEOVIL – Westlands – SOLD OUT
28 – SOUTHAMPTON – Nuffield Theatre – SOLD OUT
31 – OXFORD – Playhouse – SOLD OUT

June 2017

1 – NORTHAMPTON – Derngate – TICKETS
2 – TORQUAY – Babbacombe Theatre – DVD Recording – TICKETS
3 – TORQUAY – Babbacombe Theatre – DVD Recording – TICKETS
9 – GUILDFORD – G Live – SOLD OUT
10 – READING – Hexagon – SOLD OUT – Extra date added 8th November TICKETS
11 – BOURNEMOUTH – Pavilion – TICKETS
12 – GUERNSEY – Beau Sejour Theatre – TICKETS
17 – JERSEY – Opera House – TICKETS
19 – LONDON – Betsey Trotwood – SOLD OUT – NEW MATERIAL NIGHT – NOT A SHOW
23 – LONDON – Betsey Trotwood – TICKETS – NEW MATERIAL NIGHT – NOT A SHOW

July 2017

24 – LONDON – Betsey Trotwood – TICKETS – NEW MATERIAL NIGHT – NOT A SHOW
25 – LONDON – Betsey Trotwood – SOLD OUT – NEW MATERIAL NIGHT – NOT A SHOW
26 – LONDON – Betsey Trotwood – SOLD OUT – NEW MATERIAL NIGHT – NOT A SHOW
28 – BARTON on HUMBER – Ropewalk – SOLD OUT
29 – YORK – Barbican – Great Yorkshire Fringe – TICKETS
30 – MACCLESFIELD – Gawsworth Hall – TICKETS

August 2017

3 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
4 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
5 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
6 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
10 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
11 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
12 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
13 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
17 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
18 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
19 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS
20 – EDINBURGH – The Queen’s Hall – TICKETS

September 2017

20 – EPSOM – Playhouse – TICKETS
21 – DUNSTABLE – Grove Theatre – TICKETS
22 – DARTFORD – The Orchard – TICKETS
23 – TUNBRIDGE WELLS – Assembly Hall – TICKETS
29 – CLACTON-on-SEA – Princes Theatre – TICKETS
30 – IPSWICH – Regent Theatre – TICKETS

October 2017

1 – LOWESTOFT – Marina Theatre – TICKETS
6 – HIGH WYCOMBE – The Swan – TICKETS
7 – WATFORD – Colosseum – TICKETS
8 – LEAMINGTON SPA – Royal Spa Centre – TICKETS SOON
12 – WREXHAM – William Aston Hall – TICKETS
13 – BIRMINGHAM – Town Hall – SOLD OUT
14 – BIRMINGHAM – Town Hall – TICKETS
15 – KETTERING Lighthouse – TICKETS
19 – DONCASTER – Cast – TICKETS
20 – KENDAL – Westmoreland Hall – TICKETS
21 – CARLISLE – Sands Centre – TICKETS
22 – NEWCASTLE – Theatre Royal – TICKETS
26 – LONDON – Hackney Empire – TICKETS
27 – WOLVERHAMPTON – Wulfrun Hall – TICKETS
28 – MELTON MOWBRAY – Melton Theatre – TICKETS
29 – CHESTERFIELD – Pomegranate Theatre – TICKETS

November 2017

2 – BASINGSTOKE – The Anvil – TICKETS
3 – CRAWLEY – The Hawth  – TICKETS
8 – READING – Hexagon – TICKETS
9 – CANTERBURY – Marlowe Theatre – TICKETS
11 – STOCKPORT – Plaza – TICKETS
12 – SHREWSBURY – Theatre Severn – TICKETS
16 – CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange – TICKETS
17 – BRIGHTON – Dome  – TICKETS
18 – HAYES – Beck Theatre – TICKETS
19 – SALISBURY – City Hall – TICKETS
23 – BARNSLEY – Civic Theatre – TICKETS
24 – SCARBOROUGH – The Spa Theatre – TICKETS
25 – NOTTINGHAM – Playhouse – TICKETS

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