Buy my magazine “Pools – comics, writings, personality tests”

My magazine „pools – comics, writings and personality tests“ is out now. 

You can order it by contacting me: ingridwenzel.de/kontakt/

It’s 28 pages. color print. english. 14,8 x 21cm.  12 Euro including shipping. It’s full of fun, jokes, stories, comics and other pool related stuff. I even drew my own advertisement in it and you can check out two personality tests.

I also made this video to show the work in progress.

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ingrid wenzel pools magazine

How to make Cold Brew Coffee

When I stayed in California, I had this ritual. Every morning, I would walk up to this coffee shop, I forgot the name. I would order their iced coffee and start my day. I would take a walk, sit down on a bench, read and draw a bit under a tree, take a nap at the botanical garden and at night perform at an open mic. And then I already awaited the next day to repeat my ritual. Those were the happiest days, and they started with cold coffee. I was bewildered how they make it taste so smooth. The bitterness of coffee kept to a minimum, leaving no trace of brown coating on my tongue. Just gulping down brown, tasty water. How did these magicians do it? Today I know. It’s cold brew! It’s tastier than drinking cooled, old, bitter coffee from the day before. Today I make cold brew myself. It’s super easy! And cheaper than running to the coffee shop every morning, though I miss that ritual. That’s why I illustrated this autobiographical recipe for you from the first time I ever made it:

I refer to this first batch as the Cold Brew Disaster. From then on I never strained it as thoroughly ever again. I dump the coffee mix through a rough strainer, that’s it, and remind myself to stop drinking before I hit the viscous goo on the ground of my cup.

I drew this illustration with the app procreate. I can’t stress enough how much I love this app. I uploaded the time-lapse video of my drawing process here:

 

Ingrid’s Search for the Global Punchline – Vienna

Last weekend, I travelled for the first time to Vienna to see the city, and also to perform at a comedy show.

How would the Austrian audience perceive my dry German wit? I heard about Wiener Schmäh. The Viennese humor described as „subtle, indirect, full of hidden innuendo and sometimes analogous to black humor“*.
Just walking in the city I already liked my potential audience. They seemed to have the perfect mix of gregarious and hostile.

The Viennese either talked to me or shouted at me

A cook and his kid leaning out a kitchen window of a restaurant just started talking to me. And the restaurant’s waiter asked me what I’m reading and then vanished behind the grand piano to play Johann Strauss.
At the airport, I stole a newspaper because I thought it was for free. Someone congratulated me for stealing it, because apparently it’s some shitty tabloid press that „shouldn’t get anyone’s money anyway“.

Other Wieners just shouted at me. Like the cab drivers when I panically cycled on the busy street because I couldn’t find the bike lane.
Or on the S-Bahn, a not-so-old man shouted at me for not offering him a seat. And all other passengers glared at me. In my defense, he was 60. In Berlin, no one stands up for anyone under 80. When the not-so-old man eventually sat down somewhere else, a subway announcement sounded: „Take heed, maybe someone else needs your seat more urgently than you“. And the really-not-so-old man nodded and growled „genau“ in my direction. The entire weekend, I didn’t dare to sit down on public transport. And I was scared he’d be in my audience that night.

 

vienna comedy
“Alien Abduction of an ordinary woman on Mark Rothko”

 

Comedian at night, tourist by day

My comedy show was in an alternative bar’s cozy basement room. The show was simultaneous with the Germany-Sweden world cup game. Some locals watched it at the bar. And that left an audience of solid ten people for our show. Most comedians hate performing in front of small crowds. The more people, the more laughter. But I love it. It’s so intimate, I have to establish a relationship with everyone in the room, keep the energy up and make them feel it’s okay to laugh. It’s not an anonymous mass I’m shouting my jokes at, it’s actually people I’m talking to.

The Vienna audience struck me as particularly witty, smart and thoughtful. Throughout my set, I have certain cornerstone jokes, that I use to test an audience. Oh they didn’t laugh at this one, yikes, well I will better leave out the dirty/smart//whole set. Oh, they did laugh at this one, wow, you guys are so gonna get it.
For example in Gera, Saxony, they didn’t laugh at any cornerstone jokes. In fact, they didn’t laugh at anything. And after the show, I locked myself in the restroom. Turns out, there was no lock. I kept it shut with my legs and overflowing tears.
The Vienna audience passed all smart cornerstone jokes.
They even had witty remarks. And they especially liked my self-deprecating material.

 

vienna comedy
“Six Ingrids on Mark Rothko”

 

Is it me or my Germanness?

I wasn’t sure if they like my self-deprecating humor or a German telling it.

They laughed the hardest at my series of recent mishaps as a German in Austria. Sometimes fresh jokes have this „new joke energy“ that makes them work the first time you try them. And the second time you traditionally die. Like good, fresh gossip, that you have to tell a friend, but only while it’s fresh. But the way they laughed at my fresh mishaps was a different laughter. A laughter that was schadenfreudig, like they appreciated my Austrian inside-joke of a clumsy German.

But you all know the saying don’t judge a country by a single audience.
Ten people is maybe not a statistically significant group. And maybe that night, there was a beneficial correlation between „hating football“ and „loving comedy“.

But even the people that watched the match were interesting to observe. I never heard such a mean laughter, when Sweden scored against Germany. Every chance of Germany losing was welcomed with vicious cheers. Brutal disappointment after Germany’s winning goal in the 95th minute.
The next day, I stole another newspaper and on page one it commemorated the 40 year anniversary of that one football game, when Austria had beat Germany. A page one article about my country and I’ve never heard of it.

Next time when I will go to Vienna, I will make sure to pack even more tales of a clumsy German in Austria. And take photos. I didn’t take one photo, so I decorate this article with my most recent drawings.

 

vienna comedy
“Killer Shark on Mark Rothko”

 

* This is not college, so I’m quoting Wikipedia

 

vienna comedy
“Agitated business people on Mark Rothko”

Ingrid’s Search for the Global Punchline – Liverpool

I’ve always had a fascination with England: their people, their humor, their language. But I never really encountered English people, other than the drunk NATO soldiers at shitty clubs in my German hometown Celle. The only time I approached an English person was when I was 14 and on a class trip to London. „Um, excuse me, can you tell me ze vay to ze topshop, please“, I bravely asked a woman in the street, nervously with my best school English and in front of my class mates. She grunted „äh, ich sprech’ auch deutsch!!!!!“. I was both humiliated and impressed that, in this busy street, I picked out the one German.

The last time I was in Britain was eight years ago at a summer school in Twickenham, in southwest London. My job was to take care of spoiled international kids. We would go on a hike around town and suddenly our three kids from Dubai went missing. Turned out later, they despise walking and got into a cab, without any notice, and drove back to the school. They also stopped at a Pizza Hut. I wish I had been a kid from Dubai.

I visited England a few times during my „cruise ship incident“ 2012-2014. (That is, for months I hosted Bingo onboard a German cruise ship with a character I developed just for the game: Bingo host „Bingrid“, a stickler for the rules, openly dismissive, and always annoyed with all guests. Believe it or not, I was regularly mentioned in the customer reviews under „what we liked about our trip“. Hosting Bingo with an alias also helped me not to go mad and jump off the railing. “It’s not really me who’s shouting out numbers at people every single night while floating on an ocean.”)

That being said, the ship stopped at rather alternative British tourist destinations like the industrial port of Southampton, and some harbor two miles outside of Dover – which was absurdly advertised as „London“ in the cruise’s brochure. That’s why these visits to Britain don’t count. It’s an insult to any country when three thousand cruise guests and a grumpy bingo host are out on parole for a few hours in a different country to take pictures and in thirty years find a photo and say „oh yeah, I’ve been there“.

Last week, I finally set foot on the island again and visited my friend Sam, a sound artist from South Korea, in Liverpool. Finally, I met real English people.
Here are my field notes, that I jotted down while walking:

 

Manchester Fish n Chips Liverpool
Get yourself a partner that looks at you the way I look at Fish & Chips (c) Sam Ryu

—-

Liverpool, June 12th 11.30 am

Everything does look English, I totally forgot. It’s like a parody of what I remembered Britain was like. I walked out of Sam’s home and within ten minutes I saw: a guy without a shirt, three woman that looked just like Katy Price, a dozen old people with long faces that looked like props from the old Mr. Bean series, a man in an electric wheel chair definitely going over the speed limit while dragging his overweight dog behind, three people that I apparently passed too closely so they reflexively said sorry. And of course kids in uniform. I followed them into the Liverpool cathedral. They had a children church service and all their gospels sounded like Mumford & Sons.

Liverpool, June 12th 4 pm

A book store had one shelf labeled „humor“. Does a German book store even have one humor book? I picked up a book called „Nomad“ by Alan Partridge. A comedy character portrayed by Steve Coogan. His kitsch cover just mesmerized me. A creepy bloke (a new English word that I learned and like) stood behind me and said „you should get that book hahaaaa“. I asked why. He shouts „This is everything that is wrong with this country“. Now I regret not having bought it.

Liverpool, June 12th 11pm

I went to a comedy club but didn’t perform. I need to analyze them first before I’m in the responsible position to make them laugh. You know, war preparation. There was a language problem, though. The people here speak scouse, the thick Liverpool accent, which to me is Dadaist art. (In a cafe a woman said, I think, „we have Pringles, Twix and Kitkat“ but all I understood was „eh ih huh twinkles pricks and quick quacks“). I laughed hysterically the entire show about my mishearings. It didn’t help that I sat next to the most drunk woman in the room, who was there with her three sons, she wanted to set me up with. That I understood.

I also understood the funny headliner’s English because he’s from Malawi. Daliso Chaponda asked the crowd „who of you grew up poor“. Everyone cheered. And then „who of you grew up rich“. So I clapped, because I thought „well I won’t be the only one, I clearly didn’t grow up super rich but definitely not poor either“. I was the only one who clapped and everyone laughed at me. Well there’s my first laugh!
I had so much fun, I totally forgot I was there to do research. I realized how comedy is a fun, violent volleyball game. Saying something on stage, i.e. sending out energy and waiting for the reaction, for the energy to hit the back of the room and hit you back in the face before sending out the next words.

—-

 

 

My friend Regina thought of a TV format: “Ingrid’s search for the global punchline”. I travel from country to country, from comedy club to comedy club, bar to bar. I observe which laughter unites us, which separates us. I take field notes of what people laugh about. Where do people draw a line? What do they find funny about the world, themselves, me? My next episode will be already next weekend, when I perform in Vienna here.

 

(Two of the photos here were actually taken in Manchester, just to be accurate.)

Some thoughts on pants and dresses

I once saw a wardrobe at a museum that could have been mine.  It had a sign „coats, please no pants“. (Their emergency exit plan’s sign was „this is no artwork“ and their toilet paper labeled „for free“. So yes, a great museum right up my alley).

Personally, I don’t wear pants. I hate them. I only wear dresses. A flowing fabric, basically a fancy blanket, that I wrap around my slack body. Wear a dress and you’re good to go! Unless you’re actually wearing a blanket, dresses will always make you look fashionable. People mistake my laziness for style. With pants, you have to match a top and a bottom. Really, who has time for that? Dresses are cold? Always have tights in your purse, like a good robber.

I’m short and therefore I only wear dresses that go just above my knees. Anything substantially longer makes me look like a character from The Handmaid’s Tale.
I once visited my friend Cindy in Uganda and didn’t check the dress code before (a tourist’s Russian Roulette). In Uganda, it’s perfectly okay to go topless. But it is not okay to show your knees. Yeah! Your filthy, revealing, overly sexual knees, you dirty thing you! Since I didn’t do my research, I got there with my short dresses. I had nothing appropriate to wear. I was a disgrace to her. And my tiny friend’s pants didn’t fit me. Ugh, see, pants again! I ended up wearing her curtains. I hid behind one, rolled myself in it and in a elegant pirouette I ripped it off the wall and on my body. Good to go! Still better than pants!

Pants suck because they have to fit well. If too long, you drag them through the mud. Or cuff them and tell people „they’re supposed to be like that“. (But deep down you know you look ridiculous. And promise yourself next time you don’t give up shopping jeans that fast).
A knee long dress is too long? Fine, they may cover my filthy knees then. A dress too big? Fine, I’ll use a belt and constrict myself until I look like a hot balloon dog. A dress to tight? I throw it in the closet and cry “I will loose weight at some point for sure“.

So, here, I have some shopping advice for you: Before getting ill fitted clothes, humble yourself and go to a mean but honest shop assistant. Advice and insult often live on the same street. A saleslady once told me „nah, don’t get that black dress. It emphasize your dark circles and wrinkles.“ Um, excuuuuse me? And also, get me all the white dresses you have. (I did almost punch her in the face though for saying „white is en vogue in Pari“.)

Here are some more jeans trends that I first posted on my instagram stories. They’re all inspired by my last unsuccessful shopping trip:

 

More Pics Pics Pics

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:

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.