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I talked to my photographer Sergey Sanin from Hamburg. He asked „do you wanna do a shooting at your place in Berlin? I wanna try something out“. „Sure“ I said. He goes „okay I will send parts of my equipment to you via post“. 

Wait, what did I just agree to? A quick shooting with, well, a camera? Or a super elaborate studio production that apparently includes shipping heavyweights in trucks and cargo ships. Well turns out the latter! On the day of the shooting, we carried up more bags and boxes than when I moved in.

We took up so much space that we had to rearrange furniture. (Which was good because I swept under the couch for the first time.)  The lamps and metal gear you see in the following pictures are not my usual desk lamps. They are his bulky weights for complicated shootings. Boy was I glad to just be in front of the camera. I only had to look good. Well and here are five photos out of five hundred to prove just that.

The shooting was inspired by works of Brad Trent and by Chris Buck’s photo series uneasy. He even liked our instagram post! (This will be the only time I get excited about someone liking my instagram, okay?). Now Sergey is back in Hamburg and, if he’s not slain by his equipment, he’s probably working on more editing. So long, here are some first results and outtakes:

 

HIdden in this photo: a beastly photo bomb and my work ethic (somewhere on my desk)

 

Here are two outtakes from when my foster dog needed more attention than me:

 

The two following photos of me starring into the void are basically a photo quiz: Find nine differences and you can win an iphone (well maybe, if I find it, a broken iphone2 cable):

Was soll’s, here are two more:

Stand-up Comedy – “Ingrid und Jonas lieben andere Menschen”

ingrid wenzel jonas imam comedy

Stand-up Comedy – “Ingrid und Jonas lieben andere Menschen”:

Ein Abend, eine Bühne, ein Mikro, zwei Comedians.

Die Berliner Stand-up Comedians Ingrid Wenzel und Jonas Imam zeigen euch am 03.03.2018 ihre Netflix Specials. (Noch) ohne Netflix, dafür live, roh, unzensiert (und andere Adjektive!).

In Amerika sagt man, es braucht zehn Jahre, um Comedian zu sein. Ingrid und Jonas haben jetzt zusammengerechnet zehn Jahre auf Bühnen verbracht und zeigen euch ihr aktuellstes, bestes Material.

Jonas ist Berliner, Ingrid vom Niedersächsischen Dorf. Beide haben mal ein Studium beendet und sind doch Comedians geworden. Ingrid ist für Comedy nach California gegangen, Jonas ist Urgestein der Berliner Comedyszene (mit seinem wöchentlichen Open Mic „Kusskuss Comedy“ und seinen Podcasts „Verprügelt mit Punchlines“ und “Alt Shift Comedy“). Heute treten beide in diversen Shows, auf deutsch und englisch und im Quatsch Comedy Club auf.

Da Ingrid auch Comic-Zeichnerin ist und Jonas viel mit seinen Augen kuckt, gibt es in dieser Show auch visuelle Überraschungen on Top!

Das gemütliche Deriva hat begrenzt Platz, ihr könnt gerne hier Plätze reservieren: comedyonde@gmail.com

In Berliner Comedy Tradition kostet die Show keinen Eintritt, damit jeder Kultur genießen kann. Dafür gibt am Ende jeder nach seinem Ermessen eine Spende in den Hut. (Spendenvorschlag: 7-10.00 Eur).

Beginn 20 Uhr.

Adresse:

Deriva
Mainzer Str. 23
12053 Berlin

Mehr Infos hier im Facebook-Event.

Traveling for 28 hours to Stuttgart for Comedy and Modern Art

I’m not that often on the road, but when I am, it’s a highway to hell. Only comedy and modern art can cure me:
I travelled for 28 hours with a ticket, bought five months ago, to a show, that got cancelled last minute, because not enough tickets were sold. On the plus side, I would have never made it to my show anyway. Due to storm Friederike, our train got stuck in the middle of nowhere at the village Gerstungen. It’s German and means „better dead in Berlin than alive in Gerstungen“. 

Where is Wenzel (c) Thüringer Allgemeine

I was on my way to a show in Stuttgart. But instead our train stopped for three hours in Gerstungen. And eventually, me and 150 passengers got evacuated and put into the local gym hall. And the first class occupied all the comfy gym mats. No one knew if we ever get out of here. I wondered if I should settle, marry a farmer and open a corner store.  In the end, I made it to Stuttgart the next day. It took longer than a stage coach: 28 hours instead of formerly 6.

Some sketches from the train ride. Travelblog from hell.

That next day, I had another show in Stuttgart, which did not get cancelled. To kill time until then and to calm the hell down I checked out some modern art at Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. To my surprise, my train ticket saved me 2 € at the entrance! I just had to visit 25 more museums to amortize my horrible journey.

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) and my incredible photoshop skills.

The collection began strong with one of my favorite artists: Alberto Giacometti. Famous for his oversized, size 0 sculptures of humans, who look like they set themselves on fire, because they couldn’t take anymore shit from this world.  One figure was set on a wheeled pedestal, a prehistoric segway.  Another visitor mumbled to herself „who the hell would put this in their living room?“. Um, me! Would be perfect as a luxurious hat rack counterbalancing my craigslist Ikea stuff.

Next highlight was Mark Rothko. You know, he made those spheric paintings that look like white pillow cases accidentally washed with a blue and red sock:

Yeah so this is a different Rothko (in San Francisco) but you get the idea. Also, this is my favorite photo ever so I keep reusing it.

The next room showed an installations by Joseph Beuys. A German artist famous for using fat, enough to equip all deep fryers in the world. I inhaled a stench of mold. I asked the security guard „Is the art smelling?“ .“Yeah! it’s rancid fat!!!“, he exclaimed, „It’s worse in summer!!! You should come back“.

I always wondered if security personal had favorite art rooms. I bet the rancid Beuys room is for the one colleague who shows up late.

Beuys’ installation smelled so bad. Why didn’t they move Duane Hanson’s “Cleaning Lady” in that room?

I was dizzy from Rothko and Beuys. I tumbled into the adjacent Hans Arp room and immediately knew what his metamorphose lava lamp sculptures actually mean. One more sniff of rancid fat and I can correct the rosetta stone.

High on Rothko and Beuys, it’s easy to decipher Arp’s metamorphose lava lamp sculptures.

The next floor contained a bunch of Picassos. My goal in life is that eventually, a person writes a blog post about an art museum „The next floor contained a bunch of Wenzels“. Picasso supposedly said „I wanted to become a painter and became Picasso“. Lucky him!

Eventually, my hard disc was full. I couldn’t take any more art but there was so much more to see. The museum asked me „are you still watching?“ So within five minutes, I whizzed through the entire centuries of renaissance, baroque and middle ages. Like a cruise ship tourist rushing through Florence between lunchtime and coffee. In light speed, I saw Carracci, Corinth, Kiefer, Kaufmann and a visitor who pronounced Gerhard Richter „Gertrud Richter“.

At the end, I walked out to the hallway and a group of senior citizen mistook me for a security lady. It’s my authoritarian aura. I played along and checked all of their tickets. I can’t wait to come back for a show in Summer and see how Beuys’ fat smells. Oh, and the comedy show that night went well and even the train ride back was late for only one hour. Stuttgart is one lovely place!

 

Another highlight is Beckmann’s „apocalypse without hope“. I looked at it together with four other visitors. It is the Mona Lisa of the Staatsgalerie, so to speak.

 

 

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.