Comedy As News

Heute Show: Background reads “Let the assholes speak.”

If you watch German comedy, you often wonder why it is not funny. It is so dull that you begin to ask yourself, “Have the Germans culled everybody who was funny or something?” And, of course, they did! But there is a second mechanism at play that is also responsible for shitty singers: You only advance in the arts if you are helpful for a left-wing cause.

Forget Samantha Bee, Chelsea Handler, or Michelle Wolf. These people are actually talented. They are criticized for playing exclusively to a left-wing base with political content. But they are actually tame. Samantha Bee was called out for using the expression “feckless cunt.” This kind of invective is the only thing German comedy shows run on. Non-offensive content on German comedy shows is so rare that you have to call that out to save you time.

I took a look at the major ones in Germany “Anstalt”, “quer”, “extra3”,  “heute show”, “Richling”, “Böhmermann”.

The most worthwhile is “Anstalt.” This is a Samantha Bee style propaganda show. I don’t watch Bee, but I believe that she is fairly honest. She might not be right, but her jokes are based on a reality how she sees it and her product is rather clean overall. The “Anstalt” is crammed with statistics, background information, and arguments. This is actually the only place in German media that I have seen so far that presents some logic. It is considered high-brow and their base are informed voters who need additional talking points to proselytize their own social spheres. The impression of a fun show is achieved with minor rhetorical twists. It isn’t a riot, but there is more that passes for a joke than in the other shows.

The “Anstalt” can make jokes because it has an audience that will understand references to news items. The more we go down the list, the less information is spread and the more an enemy is maligned.

“quer” targets the same audience as “Anstalt”, but it does not even pass as a comedy show. It is a news show with a snarky presenter. The name “quer” already indicates that it does not want to be this or that. It just means “cross”, “perpendicular”, “skewed” or “queer”.

I have reviewed “extra3” recently. It is a mixture of news items and insults with little attempt to be funny at all.

“Heute show” is a high-production cost format on the large channel ZDF. It is based on the “Daily Show”. I have really problems to review this. It is targeted at low-information voters who may have heard this or that about public affairs, but don’t read news. So the material is littered with blah blah about everyday situations. “This is how annoying it is to take the train”, “Isn’t the postal service too expensive?” and so on. Dull. In between they portray enemies of the elites as stupid, but don’t explain any of it. The audience wouldn’t get a cultural reference anyway and the writers are not intelligent enough to point out logical contradictions. So they have to signal heavily when the morons must clap.

Richling is an imposter. He puts on wigs and make-up, tries to hit the regional accent of the public figure and overplays the personal antics. He is an actor, a theater guy, and not a comedian.

Böhmermann is the equivalent of the Stürmer in moving pictures. This is a diarrhea of insults based on false information, really aggressive hate against political or ethnic minorities (like e.g. the Saxons). Imagine the Stürmer had claimed to be funny only to avoid libel charges. That’s it. They have a gullible crowd roaring whenever they agree with the hate.

A major problem is that northern Germans don’t understand humor. They will claim that you don’t have any if you point out that there is no punchline or that something offensive or untrue is being spread. They would know, for example, that a joke is not meant literally. They don’t know that it still must hint to something that is true. They would know that jokes are a bit offensive. They don’t know that it must be reasonable to assume that a sound recepient will be able to not take it personal.

The second obvious problem is that conservatives don’t understand that they lose the game on the low-IQ demographics. We debate, use logic and facts. This is not the arena that the left even tries to play. They reach out to people who are far less intelligent than they are. Conservatives don’t do that in the same way because lying is not an option. Conservatives still try to reach low-IQ individuals by whipping them into a rage by giving honest examples of violent crimes all day long. It fails to make the target group engage beyond the occasional protest march.

I end with a final example of a German satire show. The “German Betty White” Alice Hoffmann has her own one (“Schreinerei Fleischmann”) on an unpopular state channel (SWR). You will see why I add her despite the low ratings. This woman is unique. As I have mentioned in the beginning, what promotes you in German arts is political usefulness. Hoffmann made it by the sheer force of her talent. She rose to fame as a ditzy Golden-Girls-Rose-style character on the sitcom “Familie Heinz Becker.” She has the Meryl-Streep-like ability to adopt speech patterns and accents. Most often she presents herself with a Saarland dialect. She uses it so often that people believe it were her native dialect although she is from Cologne. She is also fluent in Hebrew and a number of other languages (She is married to a Jew, but I don’t think that she identifies as one). She does not touch controversial topics, which is a reason why her rise was permitted, but I felt like including her because at least we have some high-quality slapstick left for those who care. The show is usually aired in the night and does not have a Wikipedia entry of its own. Not useful for the left.

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