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Henning Wehn: No Surrender

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Henning Wehn is not a happy German. He’s complaining that he’s had to throw away all the efficiently-functioning jokes from his acclaimed 2010 show and start from scratch, just because a new hour is the annual turnover the consumerist comedy world demands of him.

In fact, he does quite a lot of complaining about the comedy industry, including how big-name acts can get away with less dedication to new material, how the Free Fringe is full of shit, how whinging comedians shouldn’t be surprised when they lose money at this festival, how he struggled playing at he Melbourne Comedy Festival, and how he has nothing but contempt for some of the audiences the Highlight and Jongleurs clubs attract…

And it all rather begs the question: ‘Who gives a scheiße?’ Hardcore comedy geeks will have heard all these grievances before, and to everyone else it runs a high risk of being parochial and self-indulgent.

It’s contributes to the feeling that Wehn doesn’t quite have enough material to go around this year, as he tries to expand away from quite such a dependence on the old stereotypes about the war, German humourlessness and industrial efficiency – even though these continue to provide some of his most pointed, and most hilarious, lines, especially now the Fatherland has had to bail out Greece.

Items about the difference between Australian and British swimming pools, about a German beer festival in Aberdeen and have their funny moments, but seem over-stretched. Although, conversely, the idea that as an expat he feels more patriotic about Germany than ever before is rather under-explored.

The man’s still funny, there are some great lines here, and we’ll probably never tire of him attempting such British phrases as ‘a right old ding-dong’ or ‘isn’t it, Governor’ in his Teutonic brogue. But this is one German who needs to be a bit more industrious – and I’m sure he’ll appreciate a lazy Brit telling him that.

Review date: 17 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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