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Mace and Burton: Rom Com Con
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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Michael Mittermeier: A German on Safari
Michael Mittermeier, Germany's best-selling comic makes his long-awaited Fringe debut. Co-produced by Eddie Izzard, he arrives ready to explore his experiences as a tourist and stand-up all over the world - two decades as a German on safari. Now after entertaining millions of Germans, Michael's ready to take on Scotland. After all, as a Bavarian lover of beer, meat and a rocky history with the English, he thinks they're natural allies.
Michael Mittermeier: Fringe 2012
Germany doesn’t have that many stand-up comedians as we would count them, that’s a fact – though it shouldn’t be confused with the old ‘no sense of humour’ jibe.
Michael Mittermeier is one of the biggest, and here in the great leveller of the Edinburgh Fringe he’s playing a converted shipping container just like most other debutants, rather than the big venues he’s used to back home.
The downside of coming from a place with no comedy circuit may be that it’s harder to tell what’s hack – when scores of comedians start telling similar jokes, the smart ones think harder. But what if you don’t have that competitive driving force?
That’s a theory I dreamt up based on the dull first half of Mittermeier’s show, as my mind started wandering. Once we’ve got the inevitable World Cup penalty shoot-out quip out the way he gets under the skin of Germany as only a native can by talking of their harsh language which makes even their most romantic sentences sound like brutal pornography and the way they always put their towels on the sun loungers.
Other tediously tired topics covered include Ryanair’s lack of frills, footballers diving when there’s no contact made, and all manner of national stereotypes. I guess you don’t get big by being challenging, but this is very thin stuff, even if it’s getting hearty laughs that seem depressing for those of us who hoped for more.
He performs as if he’s still in a big venue, too. He’s got the discrete hands-free cheek mike that lets him gesticulate and pose in the tiny space, which injects some energy into the unimaginative. Plus, he’s remarkably eloquent in his second or third language.
One thing I missed when getting the ticket was the title of the show, so was rather baffled when he kept randomly suggesting things ‘reminded me of safari’ – when they clearly didn’t. This theme was definitely an afterthought.
Yet in the second half Mittermeier does show more sparks of originality which might explain what Eddie Izzard saw in him, prompting him to help produce this Edinburgh run with the aid of his long-term promoter Mick Perrin.
He’s got a great routine about the flaws in the Trojan Horse story, even if they are obvious, while his description of English road rage at traffic lights transcends the national stereotype it’s based on. Plus his answer to the dumb American (stereotype again) who asked: ‘Why are there so many different languages in Europe?’ is priceless.
These were rare moments of four-star sparkle in a two-star show, just enough to drag the average up, but he’ll need to come back with consistently more interesting material if he’s to make waves.
|Date of live review: Wednesday 8th Aug, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
@ Lale. As a German myself I strongly disagree. Yes, we have indeed some people who call themselves "'stand-up comedians' but there is one problem: They're just plain unfunny, because they rely on the oldest gags and clichés on Earth. And it just is NOT stand-up, because they're only doing the same toutine over and over again with no variation. If you wanna be successful as a comedian in Germany: Put on a "crazy" wig and make Jokes about Man/Woman. And very important is, that you laugh a lot, so that the audience knows when they actually have to laugh themselves.
Me and my friend watch a lot of comedy at Soho Theatre and this was by far the worst. Tired, unimaginative national stereotype drivel was rehashed as if was something new and interesting. The low point was a lame impression of how funny an Indian man may speak. The irony was that his message was that Germans can't do comedy. It would be a mistake to think all German's are not funny as I'm sure any German could have done better if they'd have had a mike trust at them at the start of the show before sitting down. Truly awful.
Steve Bennet you know nothing about Germany, otherwise you would know that we do have a lot of stand-up comedians. I know it is a hard thing to grasp, but Germans have a sense of humour, get use to it!