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Don’t make me laugh.
Where I come from, comedy is all about finding humour
in the trials and tribulations of ordinary, real, everyday life.
Sort of like this:
You don’t want to be served by an imbecile.
This actually happened to some friends of mine.
This is absolutely true: They wanted to buy a fax machine,
and asked the assistant: “How does this actually work?”
He said: “Well...
...there’s a handset, you pick it up,
you speak into it and it comes out on some paper there.”
[LAUGHTER] That’s what he said. That is genuinely what he said.
But when Brits like me come to Germany,
their experience of German humour is a bit more like this:
Pumpernickel! [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
And so the idea that Germans have no sense of humour is born.
This of course is a prejudice, with no basis in fact at all.
Germans do have a sense of humour,
it’s just not the sort of sense of humour that we’re used to.
It’s comedy, but not as we know it.
The basic principle you have to embrace is this:
whereas in Britain and America humour is an integral part of everyday life,
in Germany it’s a way to escape real life altogether.
That’s why German comedians have to have some sort of gimmick,
like a stupid hat, or ill-fitting clothes, or an exaggerated regional accent,
or just a really stupid voice.
If they look or sound too normal, people will just think they’re being serious.
So, if you are a police officer and you say, for example:
“I’m afraid that your son has been involved in a car accident,”
this is being serious.
But if your uniform doesn’t fit quite properly and you say:
“I’m afraid that your son has been involved in a serious car accident,”
it’s screamingly funny.
And that is all you need to know about German humour.