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Paco Erhard: Five-Step Guide To Being German

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s the same for every minority nationality. When you’re billed as a German comedian, there’s a tendency for the emphasis to be more on the ‘German’ part than on the ‘comedian’ part. That may be a special concern for Paco Erhart, since in Henning Wehn, we already have a German comedian higher up the career ladder, making great play of the usual stereotypes.

Yet they have to be addressed, and it’s not long into The Five-Step Guide to Being German that we’ve had our first mentions of both ruthless efficiency and the wars.

On the other hand, he is trying to do more than scratch the surface in this woefully mis-named show (there are no steps at all, it transpires, or even any attempt at ‘instructional’ elements). Alongside to-be-expected quips about the Royal family’s German heritage and the like, he also offers some analysis of his national psyche, while sardonically guiding us through the reasons for it. That covers the very diverse regions of this once-fragmented country, the Holocaust shame ingrained into everyone and the precise reasons why compliance is a national trait.

Some of this is pretty interesting, from which wryly funny lines naturally emerge, although he’s not above ‘hilariously’ misreading signs such as ‘only put toilet paper down this toilet’ for gag everyone in the audience could surely have come up with for themselves.

He has obvious confidence in his material, and the lecture-type approach of delivering at the audience suits him well, though he makes some effort to engage them, too, normally along national lines. The Germans in the audience, of which there are a healthy handful, affirm the behaviours he describes, while the Brits back him up on observations about the country where he now lives.

This debut show is none too ambitious, but Erhard hits his marks well and offers a little more than the obvious.

Review date: 22 Apr 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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