GERMAN HUMOUR – I’M NOT JOKING
Various hypotheses of what the German national sense of humour could actually be have been put forward. It suggests, on the whole, that it reveals itself in a form undetectable to the rest of Western world. This is absolute nonsense. The Germans do, in fact, have a sense of humour – and it’s not very far from our own.
On Friday night we were at the Variété in der Wiehre – an all singing, all dancing, all circus-ing, all laughing spectacle of an event that nearly made it into the morning held at the Freie Waldorfschule Freiburg-Wiehre. It started at 8 o’clock, allowed us 20 minutes to purchase more drinks (needed to stay alive in the very stuffy hall) at what we thought would be the half way point and then went on until about 11.45pm. Turns out it wasn’t the half way point.
I was there on obligation with Lotta (who has also just fallen into the bottomless pit of addiction and torment of writing a blog about Germany here: http://germanydiaries.blogspot.de), to see our fellow Canberran, Jamie (of photo essay fame), kill himself on stage. Er, make that: Perform with the circus troupe.
The two gents looking after the continuity announcements dazzled in character, and peeped over the wall of the language barrier. One was the foreman, the bloke in the charge; the other was the hapless builder, who should have gone to Specsavers – his el cheapo nerd glasses weren’t doing anything to help prevent his natural clumsiness.
It was the classic comic set up. The tall, good looking, in control foreman versus the shorter, idiotic moron of a builder. They dabbled in doses of toilet humour, Abbott and Costello-esque misunderstandings and even a bit of ballet – men in tights seems to always evoke a laugh.
They even had a video. As we were at a Waldorf School production the eurythmy jokes were inevitable. The one they pulled was the best I’ve seen. Using a video from their “friends in China”, they showed as the new eurythmy tower that was being built. But there were some problems, construction hadn’t started yet and they needed the audience to help when they got a phone call. They needed to make it sound like there was movement at the station.
We gloriously participated, interspersed with laughter, in creating phony construction site noises. And then they brought the house down. The top of the tower, a million or so metres in the air, would house the French room – “because from up there you can see France!”
The next comic gem – at which we were all laughing – came from too chaps in Class 11 at the Freie Waldorfschule St. Georgen (the best one – because that’s where I am), and then a “surprise” visit from a French friend.
Their musical song revolved around the line, Ich trau mich nicht – “I don’t trust myself.” That’s how the singer, the other chap played the piano, would back out of situations. The song was good – with stabs at public transport, people you meet and the usual dilemmas for 17- or 18-year-old boys. The Germans laughed heartily at this, too.
Then, when the act appeared to be finished, the “French girl” was invited up to sing a song in French. The chap was going to provide translations line for line. The song began and, obvious to anyone who has a brain, despite it being devoid of French, was about love – particularly the love for the chap doing translations. We would stop and the translations would be shaky and nervous. Then the song got complicated, the girl lent in closer. The translation, in a loud, passable, singing tenor voice, was, “The weather is beautiful!” The piano cut, the girl looked pissed off. But continued to lean in. It was getting serious now. The audience was all thinking, Here we go; she’s gone in for the kiss.
Suddenly the piano changed from its serious minor chord to a light-hearted major one. The chap pulled away looked out to the audience and sang jovially, but a little forlornly, Ich trau mich nicht.
All of this stuff would work in English translation, minus the joke about putting your French room where you can see France. So, discuss farts, reveal the insecurities of a teenage boy with up beat piano backing and keep your audience with you, and you’ll go OK in Germany.
Afterwards, because the thing went for so long, we had to walk home. We’d missed the last tram. I wasn’t breaking any laws – I am 16 and I had 2 minutes to get home before the Polizei would be interested in my movements, thanks to Germany’s very clever youth curfew. Others, though, weren’t quite so comfortable within the law. However, if the police were to arrive we would have at least got a ride home – they’re obligated, whereas the tram was not.
Oh, and Jamie survived.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END1
(1The title, if you’ll excuse me, is the blatant use of a cliché.)
This week is my last full week in Freiburg. I suppose the tone of this blogging flight of fancy has turned from, “Oh, I’m Germany – look how much time I;m going to have”, to the, “Bugger-bugger-poo, it’s nearly over.” It’s a shift in thought process, physically reflected in the changing calendar pictures on the walls. Days falling like strips of freshly grated cheese onto a bowl of warm pasta, being absorbed in the sauce and losing their form, but leaving a good taste.
One more week of school: Five more morning bike rides down Vaubanallee at speed because we running just on time – never late; five more bouts of anger directed at my phone masquerading as an alarm clock; five more times my coat will be hung on a hook on the wooden row in the hallway outside Class 9B as the electronic three tones of the bell ring out, signalling last second movements; five more times I will pour milk blearily eyed over muesli while thinking to myself, Look, you should have got up earlier; five more times I will sit through lessons and wonder what the hell they are talking about – or wishing I could ask questions; five more times I will be part of the rush out of the school for lunch – part of the scramble of bikes in search of food.