fri 20/09/2019

Michael Mittermeier, Soho Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

Michael Mittermeier, Soho Theatre

Michael Mittermeier, Soho Theatre

Sharp German comic leans a little too heavily on national stereotypes

Michael Mittermeier: mentions the war a lot

There must be something on the air; a few foreign comics (including Edinburgh Comedy Awards newcomer winner Daniel Simonsen) were performing in English at this year's Edinburgh Fringe and now one of them, Germany's Michael Mittermeier, has brought his Fringe show, A German on Safari, to London for a short residency at Soho Theatre.

It's a brave (some would say foolhardy) thing to perform comedy - an artform that relies on nuance of expression and shared cultural references - in a foreign language, but it's a particularly brave thing to do with English, an old language of bastardised pedigree, full of double meanings and homonyms, and yet largely devoid of strict grammatical rules (unlike German).

I can't remember the last time a comic referenced Goethe, Schiller and Kant in the same sentence

Mittermeier starts with a joke about performing in Soho Theatre's basement room; it's funny enough, but actually would make more sense if he used the word “bunker” as his act trades mightily on Germany's Nazi past. It's a thread that wears increasingly thin as his show progresses - it's bad enough to hear British comics lazily refer to the Second World War as if it happened yesterday but it's really depressing when a German feels the need to ingratiate himself with a British audience in the same way.

That's a shame as Mittermeier, a huge star in Germany, is a very bright comic (he's even responsible for a neologism, Arschgeweih - literally arse-antlers, or tramp-stamp in the English vernacular) who has some interesting things to say about the current political situation in Europe. It's an even bigger shame that he makes misogynistic comments about German Chancellor Angela Merkel; although her supposed manliness forms the set-up of a clever gag early in the show, the references lose their appeal very quickly.

Otherwise Mittermeier's willingness to talk politics makes a refreshing change from the current vogue for blokey populist comedy. He neatly skewers Germany's accidental empire-building, talks intelligently about the Eurozone's woes and points out the flaws in the Trojan Horse story - and I can't remember the last time a comic referenced Goethe, Schiller and Kant in the same sentence. If only he didn't express much of his material through the medium of national stereotypes - Brits abroad like a drink, Italians are loud, Germans aren't known for their love of comedy - Mittermeier would be very sharp indeed.

His willingness to talk politics makes a refreshing change from the current vogue for blokey populist comedy


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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