5-Step Guide to Being German
Paco Erhard @ Austral Hotel – The Bunka
4:30pm, Sat 17 Mar 2012
It sometimes feels like I mention my German heritage more than I reasonably should on this blog; what right to I have to start trading on kraut-traits when my father emigrated out here when he was nineteen, and I’ve only been to Germany once… for six weeks, when I was eight years old? It’s all a bit of a joke at times, which is ironic given the stereotype of the serious German, utterly bereft of humour.
But then I read this Guardian article mourning the death of Loriot, Germany’s king of comedy; it’s worth having a peek at some of the videos linked by that article to get an idea of just how… different the German mainstream sense of humour is. But I like different, and – after spotting the précis in the Fringe Guide for Paco Erhard’s 5-Step Guide to Being German, I figured I’d give it a go… after all, I’m halfway there already, right?
But I must admit, I was stunned when I arrived right-on-time to this show… I was expecting a small room, figuring that a Saturday arvo cross-cultural comedy show wouldn’t hold much attraction to most punters, but I found that the room was nigh-on packed out. Standing-room-at-the-back kind of packed out. And that makes me happy – a full room usually means good things for a comedy show. A full room of St. Patrick’s Day punters should make this a lively crowd, I reckoned.
Unfortunately, Erhard has a really slow start to his show, and it takes him a little while to get the crowd onside using the time-tested-and-true technique of comparing the comical cultural differences between Germany and
the UK Australia. But once we’re onboard and laughing, he takes us back into the regional history of the country, comparing its regional variances – the states, their peoples, their idiosyncrasies, their speech patterns. He speaks glowingly of the Autobahn, and its related deaths – the lines on the road indicating the end of reality – and spends some time talking about his observances of his own countrymen when they travel… the average German traveller, Erhard says, spends ages learning about their intended destination before even starting the journey, in an attempt to appear as un-German as possible.
There’s a slightly flat end to the show – and out-of-place beer bottle opening skit, followed by his awkward exchange student story – they’re both reasonable bits, but seem slightly incongruous with the rest of the material. And it’s also clearly a UK-centric show – that’s fine, but some of the “local” references he was making didn’t really have any relevance to this hemisphere. But whilst Erhard doesn’t present the eccentricities of the aforementioned Loriot – his delivery and structure remains very British in nature – he certainly brings some curious material to the party… anyone who can conjure jokes about the rivalry between the Bavarians and the Saxons surely has a bit of talent.