Thursday, May 4, 2017

How To Be German

Yes, the comedy festival is back, and with it, our favourite German comedian (it’s quite a small field here in New Zealand), Paco Erhard. Paco, you may remember, was the Worst. German. Ever. in 2015, and now he’s back with a new show in which he promises “I can make you German” in five easy steps. This may not have been a state of affairs to which I’d previously aspired, but what the hell, I thought I’d give it a go.

First, of course, dinner. I’d tried to book St John’s Bar via their online booking system, but it insisted that they had no tables at 5:30 and 6:00pm, so I abandoned that idea, and instead we went to Cuba Street fave, Plum CafĂ©. We’d not been there in a while and I had an outstanding Entertainment book offer burning a hole in my phone, so that was my next choice. OK, it’s a short walk to the venue from Cuba Street, but nothing we can’t manage, even on a wind- and rainswept Wellington evening. They did a very nice pork belly with Israeli couscous, washed down with a Martinborough Riesling.

We crossed over to The Boatshed for the evening’s entertainment. Not normally open to the public, the venue was set up with a marquee atop the building, which was serving wine, beer and pizza. This was a “holding pen” for the audience before the doors were opened just before 7pm and we were able to take our seats in the top-floor room of the rowing club. The venue is normally used for weddings, functions and corporate events, but tonight was set out with theatre-style rows of seats. Given the space available and the number of tickets sold they could have set it up with tables and chairs, but hey…nitpicking.

Paco came on stage shortly after 7:00pm, and proceeded to inform us about the first step to being German: punctuality! His show is an exploration of all things German, other nationalities, and the difficulties of admitting to being German when meeting, for example, anyone Jewish. He asked if any Germans in the audience could raise their hands (“No! Not like that!”), and finding a token English person in the audience to be the foil for all his English jokes. Some of the material was the same or similar to when we saw him two years ago, but he’s expanded his repertoire a bit further. He covered some of the same stories about his schooling, learning about the Holocaust in history lessons, maths lessons, geography lessons…

There aren’t really five steps to becoming German, because we all start from different places, and anyway, which type of German do you want to be? He detailed several stereotypes, both as experienced by the world outside Germany, and those experienced by other Germans inside Germany, of which we may have been less aware. His show was longer this time around, but he is going to need some new material at some point to progress up the comedy ladder. We all left feeling slightly more German than when we’d entered, apart from maybe the Germans, who probably felt more smug.

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