Why Germans ARE  funny | German-Jewish comic Lucie Pohl defends the fatherland

Why Germans ARE funny

German-Jewish comic Lucie Pohl defends the fatherland

Wat zo funni about ze Germans, you ask? I’ll tell you (but only if you read this entire article with a German accent in your head)...

I am German, I was born in Hamburg, grew up in New York and my mother is Jewish, which gives me a good bird’s eye view of my Heimatland and its hilarious relationship to the Funny. Or rather to the Serious. Because funny only exists in relationship to serious. And vice versa. Too philosophical? What did you expect? I’m German!

Germans are meant to be the least funniest people on earth. Polls and statistics show that Germans have no humour and according to Groucho Marx the two thinnest books on earth are on Edible British Cooking and A Thousand Years of German Humour. But how could it be that a whole nation is meant to not be funny? What is happening in Deutschland that billions of people all over the world have put us at the top of the unfunny pile?

As we all know, Germans are very serious people. Deutschlandians have a very firm idea of how the world and the people living in it should act and be – but the world does not comply and so they find themselves in a constant struggle against the very nature of human life.

Imagine this: A rigid idea of how something should be collides against an ever changing chaotic reality. Now imagine a German, having grown up very aware of what’s right and wrong, unable to accept or take this event lightly. Frustrated, bewildered and in sheer confusion, this German must fix the problem. There is no time for laughter in efficiency. And it is this German that represents a nation of people trying to make things right in a world full of wrongs, with earnest conviction and no room for humour. This where the funny begins.

‘Not funny? You must be joking!’ (Basil Fawlty)

Take the German language. It does sound funny! But, it is actually extremely eloquent, refined and full of metaphors. This results in the language being efficient and specific. There is a word for everything, No need to talk for hours to explain yourself – there is a word to express the very thought in your mind, a word made up of a few words stuck together to form the perfect way to express your thought. Jawohl! When you say something it means one thing and one thing only, otherwise you say it durch die Blume – through the flower (that’s a proverb), which means you are beating around the bush. Oh yes! Germans love their proverbs and just like everything German, if you translate these to English they are quiet funny and reveal a lot about the German mentality. Here are some of my favorites:

Sei keine beleidigte Leberwurst!‘Don’t be an upset liverwurst’ (Stop sulking!)

Du hast heute morgen wohl mit nem Klown geduscht! ‘Did you take a shower with a clown this morning?’ (You got jokes, huh?)

Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei ‘Everything has an end except the sausage has two’ (don’t really know what to say about this one).

It is hard for Germans to understand when something is meant to be funny because they take things very literal. Yet, if you tell them that something is meant to be funny they will definitely produce at least a polite chuckle even if they don’t understand why it’s funny. Germans aren’t the ones making the humour, they are the ones reflecting it back at us!

Germans are funny because they are the world’s ultimate straight man. Germans are funny because they are so serious! If Germans started with the self-deprecating humour, the witty word plays and the silly sketch shows, they would cease to be funny, because they are not funny, they are serious which makes them so damn funny!

And to conclude: To me, there is really only one great German comedian, his name is Karl Valentin and he lived in the 1920s. He said: ‘Please remember that it is not recommended to use a soft boiled egg as a toothpick.’

Aufwiedersehen und Fahrvergnügen.

• Lucie Pohl’s debut show Hi Hitler! is at the Gilded Balloon at 16:15

Published: 30 Jul 2014

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