Photos of the Berlin Comedy Open Mic Scene

When I perform in small rooms, I like to take photos of the other comedians with my phone. I love catching intimate moments of pure concentration, anticipation and also introspection, solitude as well as joy and tender interchanges. Before they metamorphose to onstage personas.

The moments before a performance, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, have something ritualistic, sacred to it. Comedians going over their notes look like they are praying.  Writing their new jokes on hands becomes a ceremonial tattoo. Nervously trembling back and forth looks like a walking meditation. The donation boxes taken from some apocalyptic church. 

And next to documenting the performer, the photos reveal the atmosphere of show room architecture and German interiors. Jazz cellars, East German pubs turned hipster cafes. Lastly, my goal is to document our comedy Avantgarde before we are all rich and famous (fingers crossed). Here are some snapshots I took last night at the weekly open mic Kottikomedy at Monarch, directly at Kottbusser Tor in Berlin.

Edit Sept.5: I was proud of my shots so I sent them to photographer Sergey Sanin for feedback. He edited some of them and now our church of comedy looks even more intense.

Paul Salamone (c) Ingrid Wenzel / edited by Sergey Sanin
Aurel Mertz & Thomas Kornmaier (c) Ingrid Wenzel / edited by Sergey Sanin
The donation jar (c) Ingrid Wenzel
Maria Clara Groppler (c) Ingrid Wenzel / edited by Sergey Sanin

Ingrid hosts the 10 PM Show June 1st at Comedy Cafe Berlin

Quick announcement that I’m delighted to host the 10 PM Show at Comedy Cafe Berlin again. I will post more info about this spectacular Late Night Show soon (unless you don’t need more info and me being there is enough, here are the hard facts: Come by Comedy Cafe Berlin Roseggerstr. 17 Berlin Neukölln June 1st 10 PM. Tickets online 5,5 and 7,5 at the door ). Here’s a gif:

(photocredits Comedy Central TV Germany)

 

The First German Comedy Central Roast Battle

People keep asking me “what is it that you like about Roasts”? I always answer “imagine you are with your best friends and they all insult you.” What’s not to love about that? They know you, they love you and they know how to cross your line. Well, and strangers watch. For the audience it does sometimes just look like bullying. So I get it why it takes a certain meanie to enjoy Roasts. And a certain experience to write and perform a good Roast.

My favorite day last year was when we met up with five comedians, one had to sit in the middle and got roasted by the others. We did that for an entire day. I had muscle ache from laughing. They insulted me with my looks, my career, my relationships. It was pure joy. To me, this negativity is hilarious, truthful and cleansing.

Of course, a TV show cannot fully get across on screen what we feel live. But, I’m proud I was part of the first German Comedy Central Roast Battle. It was fun, it looks amazing and I’m roasting my comedy pal Stefan Danziger. And I already got some hate mail for it, yay. The episodes air every Saturdays at 10 pm and are then on youtube. Next live Roast is May 31st at Quatsch Comedy Club Berlin. Also, Ben Schmid gave a detailed interview to watson.de about our high brow entertainment. Here are some show impressions:

 

My try to give Roast Battles an intellectual touch
The Roast Battle at Quatsch Comedy Club Berlin (c) Comedy Central Germany
Stefan Danziger vs Ingrid Wenzel (c) Comedy Central Germany

And here two photos from my first Roast in some Berlin dive bar with no mic in front of 30 people back in 2017 when we were just kids:

Roast master Alex Upatov and me (c) Christopher Stein
Ivan Thieme roasting me (c) Christopher Stein

 

Ten reasons why I love Bavaria

For an entire week I toured Bavarian cities and villages. Together with Florian Simbeck, Jaqueline Feldmann and Jochen Prang we stopped at places with names like Fürstenfeldbruck, Schongau, Altenau, Augsburg, Ingolstadt and Dachau (yes, that Dachau). Bavaria is the only federal state I have never performed in. I’ve visited Munich once as a foolish teenager. Now I’m back as a foolish comedian and this is what I learned and loved. Thank you Florian for taking me on this fun tour, check out his regular showcases Comedylounge!

 

“Bavaria is THIS pretty?” (c) Oliver Strisch / Comedylounge Ingolstadt

1/ Strolling around Ingolstadt, I walked towards a cute market, where about a hundred people stood in line. I couldn’t tell what they waited for because there was no store, no booth, no person at the end of line, just a blank wall. Getting closer I saw that everyone was holding a beer mug. Mystery solved: they all waited in line to get to a wall with a faucet where beer for free came out. Bavaria did not disappoint. I learned that they celebrated the 503rd. birthday of beer purity law.

2/ Also in Ingolstadt, we stayed at a bed and breakfast. Hotel art, in general, is worth analyzing. But this gigantic painting I found above my bed was another level. In case I wake up in the middle of the night not knowing where I am, this hotel art reminded me in pink gothic print on a green camouflage nature scene that 1516 the beer purity law was invented.

Ingolstadt, the city of plenty and great hotel art

3/ Wandering around rural Bavaria, I realized that I’ve lived in the city for too long. One day I saw a stork flying and totally overreacted because I thought it was a flying dinosaur.

4/ I went to Winter Olympics city Garmisch-Partenkirchen to go on Germany’s highest mountain. But the clouds lay low that day and I couldn’t even see the foot of the mountain. So I stayed inside all day, listened to the heavy rain, snoozed in my Bavarian cartoon bed with puffy, checkered bedding and watched documentaries about storks on the local TV stations. DiD yOu kNoW that their number one cause of death is when they spray-pee-poop against a power line? Me neither!

Pages from my travel book “flying dinosaur” and “Bavarian cartoon bed”

5/ As a Berlin city cyclist, it is mostly anger that gets me fast from A to B. In downtown Munich I witnessed that cyclists do not roll their eyes at slow tourists blocking the streets. They don’t run them over here and yell fuck off. They just get off the bike and wait. Is this this southern Gemütlichkeit?

6/ As a North German I was conditioned to hate the South. But I break with this nonsense pride. Munich is gorgeous. I get why people like it. Munich is small like a village and prestigious like a metropole. Beautiful churches, old mansions, the English garden, cozy beergardens, people sunbathing on the river islands. I do get snotty, conservative asshole vibes from the people here but for a short term visit it was perfect. I have no argument to support that thesis but no one that I told it to disagreed.

7/ Sometimes, comedyshows lack audience, because the Soccer World Cup finals happen to be on the same day, it’s 90 degrees all night or some other free shit is happening. In rural Bavaria, we competed with the „Stadlfest“, a village party where everyone gets drunk and the next morning goes to „Frühschoppen“ (more drinking but with a pork kebab). I didn’t go after our show. Today I regret not having observed the locals in their native habitat. I could have written an entire blog post on just that.

What comedyshows compete with: The Passion / Plague Play, Stadlfest and fleamarkets.

8/ The Bavarians are so friendly and great hosts and will stay in my memory, especially the hosts of Altenau Dorfwirt. But of course, weird ones are everywhere: After one comedy show, an old as the Alps guy walked up to us comedians and gave us unsolicited feedback. This is not that uncommon. But for ten minutes he advised my colleague about her comedic style when he suddenly realized he was talking to a professional and not, as he thought, to that night’s newcomer. Then it was my turn. He said „you need to leave more breaks. We are slow in Bavaria. You need to leave more breaks. Hitler also left more breaks.

9/ The Bavarian food is hearty and amazing. In Berlin, I mostly eat vegan but here I’m an opportunist and try the meat. I hardly had any veggies all week and worried I have scurvy. The only veggies I ate were ligated in some dumpling-alloy: spinate-dumpling, potato-dumpling, beet-root-dumpling. Yum!

From my Bavarian sketch book

10/ My favorite little town was Murnau. It’s also the name of the director who did Nosferatu in 1922. I thought he came from here but I learned he once visited his artists friends here, loved it so much, hated his homophobic family so much and thus changed his name to Murnau. It is so beautiful. Just the view from the castle museum’s toilet was one of the best views I ever had. Even the graffitis warn you to pick after your trash. Highlight was visiting the beautiful house of German expressionist painter Gabriele Münter that she lived and worked in together with her partner Wassily Kandinsky.

Beautiful Murnau: “Pick after your trash” graffiti, the view from the restroom, impressions from Gabriele Münter’s house

 

Now that I can cross all sixteen federal states of my comedic performance list, I wonder what my next destination will be? All European States? What I know now is that I will be back: February 1st 2020 at Burghausen, Bavaria.