Christmas Caroling as a German in California

During Advent in Germany, I’m so thrilled to go to Church for Christmas caroling. Before mass, I’m pumping up the jams all morning with the best hits from the 15th, 16th and 17th century. Those American jingle tingle Christmas songs don’t touch my dark German soul. I need Carols that are written and produced during the Thirty Year’s War. With blood and tears on sheet music. With lyrics, so depressing it’s hard to tell if it’s a German Christmas Carol or Emomusic. „Maria walks amid the thorns“, „I lay in death’s deepest night“, „Oh come, comfort us here in the vale of tears“. Just to name some lyrics from my favorite evergreens.
Since I spent the Holidays in the USA, I gave American Carols one last try. I attended a Public Christmas Caroling in a small town in Northern California. 

 

This is how happy I look when I listen to depressing German Christmas songs.

I was studying the obituaries in the local newspaper when I saw an ad for the event. „Bring jingle bells, a drum and fancy hats. And be prepared to carol at various locations throughout the downtown area. Sheet music will be provided“. Count Ingrid in!!! I’m going!!!

We met at the local museum (that actually looked more like a high school history project. „Okay, every student pick one topic of our home town’s history. Use as many different fonts as possible, print it out and pin it on a flip chart”).
More than 100 people came to sing. It was so crowded. No one gave a damn about keeping a safe distance from the exhibits. Sorry, hand forged garden rake from the 18th century.

 

Singing Christmas songs about snow here feels like fraud. And I like it.

 

In the middle of the building was our choir conductor, who actually wasn’t a real choir conductor. He was as much of a choir conductor, as a butcher is a doctor, when he is one of the last survivors of a remote island airplane crash. But he had the loudest voice, the funniest hat and the jolliest appearance. He was our best conductor!
He started the songs on random notes and it took usually the first two verses for the group to decide on a mutual tune. Mostly pushed by the louder voices of two experienced and apparently competitive female choir singers. C-sharp minor! No, C-flat major! No! Competing like the last two bidders at an art auction.

We sang five songs in closed sessions. Which was good. Because instead of getting into the groove, we got out of groove more and more. We were not only off tune but also off rhythm. Due to the overuse of bells and drums that the newspaper ad called for.

 

Overlooking beautiful Point Reyes Lighthouse because I was too lazy to actually walk down.

 

Nevertheless, we went outside and stormed our first location: the city’s hotel lobby. Where a handful of people were enjoying a quiet evening by the fire place with a glass of wine. Until we came. A wild horde of Carolers. And bellowed our earsplitting serenade, that none of the six hotel guests asked for. It was so much fun! We left without explanation. And like a flash mob, that wouldn’t get any clicks on youtube.

For more Christmas Caroling, we went into a bar, all of us, and sang „Silent Night“. Which was echoed by some drunks with „GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!“. Can’t force the jolly Christmas mood on everybody, can you.

 

Donning Ugly Christmas Sweaters like a true American.

 

 

We also caroled while walking. But the people in the front sang different songs than the people in the back. And the people in the middle, like children of divorced parents, were unsure which side to pick. I finally let my German sense of order go and enjoyed the moment. And switched happily back and forth between „Frosty the Snowman“ and „Jingle Bells“.

Singing songs about snow in sunny California feels like fraud. But even here it does get cold outside believe it or not. It was actually freezing at night. Which is good. Because it separated the wheat from the chaff singers. After a while, all amateurs had left. About 25 hardcore Carolers, including me, stayed. We could have probably spontaneously performed Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

We formed up around the City Plaza’s Christmas Tree and sang „Oh Tannenbaum“. In German! I sang aggressively loud, so people could tell how good I am at German. Sadly, no one said anything to me, though.

 

Singing “Oh Tannenbaum” aggressively loud so people compliment my German.

 

 

Suddenly, some very old man next to me randomly gave me a burnt CD. „These are my favorite Christmas songs” he said. An Eighty-year old just gave me a mixtape!! How sweet is that!! But shortly afterwards, my German ingrown skepticism kicked in. I was afraid it was something like in The Ring. Whoever listens to it dies seven days later. You’re only safe from Santa Samara, if you pass along a copy of the CD. And make someone else listen to Christmas songs by Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey and Rod Stewart.

It’s been seven days now. And I can say I am still alive. And still blessed about this special Christmas Carol experience. American Carols, I like you after all, when sung off-tune with a hundred people inside a bar in a small town in Northern California.

 

At Point Reyes Lighthouse happy that I didn’t die driving on the winding roads. But will I die from that mixtape I got?

 

 

All photos in this Christmas Caroling post were taken during the longest hike in the Presidio Park in San Francisco and during the longest drive to the Lighthouse Point Reyes just ten thousand winding roads north of San Francisco.

 

 

Adeste fideles / laeti triumphantes / Venite, venite / in Californiam.

 

 

 

Photos from Stand-up for the Ladies in Hamburg

Stand-up for the Ladies with ten comedians!

The German stand-up comedy underground is growing and last week’s show was proof of it. When I started my Show Stand-up for the Ladies last year, I said „when I get more than four female Comedians on stage, I achieved my goal and quit“. Because statistically, a Comedyshow books like 0,3215 women per show. I want to show the opposite. And with time it is possible. At last week’s show, TEN comediennes performed! And I’m not quitting. Because it’s too much fun. And because it’s an important stage for newcomers to test their material, their act, their craft. As a new comedian, you need to perform perform perform. There are no short cuts in comedy!

The more comedians the merrier comedy

A colleague recently asked me “aren’t you happy, that there aren’t that many female comedians, because that way you stick out more?”. No no no hell no. The more the better. The more female voices we make heard, the better! The more diverse, the better. Generally, we need more comedians. We also need more shitty Comedians. Yes your read that right. People sometimes ask me why there are so many good comedians from the USA? Because they have so many shitty comedians. The bigger the ice berg, the better the peak. And I want to build a giant ice berg as if there is no climate change!

That’s why I keep asking: Do you want to perform? Do you know someone, who has to go on stage? We are always looking for more womenx and menx to try stand-up comedy. You can contact us also via email: standupfortheladies@gmail.com

The last show for this year

I’m just quitting for this year. Next year, Stand-up for the Ladies will be back! When exactly is not certain yet, but I will post it here and on our facebook page. On there, I also just published nice photographs from last week. Because I had my favorite photographer Sergey Sanin there and he took stunning portraits of everyone. Here are some of them.

This episode’s comedians were:

Martina “Matze” Schönherr, Jenny Kallenbrunnen, Kristina Bogansky, Katarzyna Kamosiak, Stephy Bauer, Anton Grübener, Ghasal Falaki, Anni Winter, Natalie Schröder, Headliner Birte Rehberg and yours truly, Host Ingrid Wenzel.

 

 

Running Order (c) Sergey Sanin

 

Women in comedy
Best class photo thanks to (c) www.SergeySanin.de

 

Women in comedy
Big Thanks to our location Jolly Jumper/Haus73 Hamburg (c) Sergey Sanin

 

 

All ten Stand-up Comedians plus Stargast & “Quotenmann” Anton Grübener (c) Sergey Sanin (From left to right, top to bottom: Martina Schönherr, Ingrid Wenzel, Jenny Kallenbrunnen, Kristina Bogansky, Katarzyna Kamosiak, Stephy Bauer, Anton Grübener, Ghasal Falaki, Anni Winter, Natalie Schröder and Headliner Birte Rehberg.)

 

women in comedy
Passing the Mic. This is what a proud parent must look like. It was Anni’s first stand-up performance and it was MAGIC! (c) Sergey Sanin

 

 

Ingrid im Quatsch Comedy Club

Quatsch Comedy Club is Germany’s first (and often only) comedy club. And this weekend, I performed there for the first time. I’m grateful for these four shows in a row with a friendly team and nice colleagues: Host Christian Schulte-Loh (who also performs in England and brought his book about his international comedy experience), my Berlin underground comedy scene pal Daniel Wolfson and German comedy dinosaurs Emmi & Willnowsky (performing at Quatsch Comedy Club since 1992!) and Thomas Philipzen. Here are some snapshots:

 

I’m thrilled that I will perform at Quatsch Comedy Club again soon. I will be at the Hamburg Club November 3rd and 4th! Feels good to perform back at my old home!

Stand-up for the Ladies – Fall of Comedy

Last week, I hosted my comedyshow  „Stand-up for the Ladies“ in Hamburg. We had a nice show with five funny women on stage (zero unfunny women, just in case you were wondering). Two guys, whose show was cancelled last minute, came by spontaneously and performed as well. Thanks for that! And thanks to my photographer Sergey Sanin, I got nice photographs from the show. The next show will be November 30th! Until then, you can see me on stage in various other cities – or in these nice pics:

 

 

comedyshow hamburg

comedyshow hamburg

comedyshow hamburg

comedyshow hamburg

comedyshow hamburg

comedyshow hamburg

comedyshow hamburg

comedyshow hamburg

 

This is our 14th show Stand-up for the Ladies! We also have a facebook page, yes I heard, it’s so uncool now? BUT there, you can browse through lots of photos from our previous shows. At every gig, I persuaded our Russian star photographer Sergey Sanin to come and take onstage photos of all artists. It’s our proof that there are lots of women in comedy in Germany and even more are up and coming! You can also find some photos from the previous comedyshow in Hamburg on my last blog post.