Improv Comedy is my quirky balance to stand-up comedy. It’s like creative cooking versus strictly following a baking recipe. And at the end, it turns out to be a drink. With a fancy straw. I learned it in San Francisco. And my improv buddy Regina in New York. Together we are Push Any Button Improv from Hamburg.
Before I reveal some news about projects this year, I wanted to share some pictures with you from one of our past performances: Oh! Kult! One afternoon in late fall, Regina and me sat in an underground cave in Hamburg’s artsy district Gängeviertel at Urbane Kunstkammer Festival. Foods, music, arts, exhibitions, urban culture and us. Yeah I wrote Foods first, cuz that’s all I think about. And us last cuz I’m polite. But also, because we were in the darkest and most mysterious corner:
Guests explored the narrow and dingy underground hallways. Neon lit art and dj sounds guided them to us: two mediums (the third one, Günther, couldn’t come cuz he’s a truck driver and was, at that time, on Autobahn 2). We invited all interested guests to take part in our Silly Séance with creative tarot cards. Playfully superstitious, never serious but always sincere with our guests. Everyone experienced an entertaining and friendly fortune-telling session. If the cards weren’t right enough, we interpreted the shapes of our lunch box tin foil.
The result: an extraordinary, individual improv performance. And everyone got a personalized tarot card to take home:
Thank you Stefan Karstens, Stimmungsfänger, for coming by to take our photos!
I’m not a real DJ. In fact, I’m a fake DJ. Just don’t tell anyone, will you?
Let’s say your profession is a technician. Strangers walk up to you and say „you’re not a real technician“! How would you react?
— „You’re right, I’m not a real technician, I’m actually a hair dresser and you’re the only one who noticed.“
On a somewhat regular basis, party guests tell me (or yell at me) that I am not a „real DJ“. Often, it’s the first thing they do when they enter the club. It’s their version of saying hello. And they don’t even need alcohol for that! And mostly, it’s men. I blew their mind by being a DJane. I don’t get it. It’s 2017. Everyone is a DJ. Everybody has a playlist and an opinion. And thanks to the Internet, everyone now thinks their opinion matters. If there was a DJ university, I would do my PH DJ. Just to show critics my sweet DJ Diploma. But the reasons for being a “fake DJ” are numerous, as I explain later.
„You’re not a real DJ.“ „Right, I am not a real DJ. I am actually a crêpe cook and mistook those turntables for hotplates.“
Someone always hates the DJ.
DJs get much attention. DJs are admired but, at the end of a party, someone always hates the DJ. If Raymond was a DJ, not everyone would love him. No matter how much I I try to please everyone, one person always hates. And since that one person recently found out that this guy at a party, who introduced himself as an artist, is not a „real artist“ and actually works at a coffee shop, and thus is inflating the title for all „real artists“, one becomes a little more cautious and investigative. I get it. Sometimes, people just start yelling, when I don’t immediately play their song.
That is why, whenever someone questions my job (or worse, existence), I don’t get offended. I simply ask them „why?“.
The answers are numerous, diverse, and I swear, not made up:
„You’re not a real DJ because you don’t have LPs“, (typically uttered at a party with hundreds of guests, where I play music from gazillion different genres and decades and also respond to song requests for ten hours straight and where a box of LPs, just to prove I’m a „real DJ“, won’t get me far.)
„You’re not a real DJ because you use Tractor, because real DJs don’t use computer programs.“ Yes, and real writers type on a typerwriter and not on a notebook.
„You’re not a real DJ because you just play a playlist, right? Because once I also made a playlist for my grandpa’s birthday party and that party wasn’t good so yours can’t be good either“.
„You’re not a real DJ because you’re using mp3s and I read on Huffington Post that David Guetta once forgot his usb stick and couldn’t dj so you can’t either.“
„You’re not a real DJ but I am. I don’t get why you’re booked tonight and I’m not.“
„You’re not a real DJ because you’re a woman. Where’s your boyfriend, he must be the real DJ.“ (If you’ve seen me on stage, I made an entire comedy bit on this sadly often recurrent accusation. Or is that meant to be a pick up line?)
Being no „real DJ“ has changed the way I work.
I usually assumed a good DJ is someone, who can make a crowd work, a client happy, and a club prosperous – whether it’s LPs, mp3, tractor, female or male, electro or rock.
Nowadays, whenever I meet a client beforehand, I feel I need to say that I don’t have a set playlist. I feel the need to justify why it’s good to be flexible and thus not use LPs.
I feel the need to explain that, as a DJ for private and corporate events, it’s not about forcing my artisan music on the client. It’s about choosing the right song like a journalist choses the right word. And it shouldn’t matter if a journalist writes on paper or online.
What does a „not real DJ“ do?
Being a DJ often means neglecting the perfect mix, and instead cheer up the nervous maid of honor, who’s about to give her speech.
It’s not about showing off my turntables but showing the host how to use the microphone correctly.
It’s not about playing my music but, in dubio pro festo, play what the people right now on the dance floor would like. Even if it’s I’ve Been Looking For Freedom.
It’s about asking the caterer when the food is ready so I can time the music and speeches.
It’s about clearing the packed dance floor the most gentle way, when the company boss tells me „can you make the party be over in four minutes and not make me look bad?“.
Guide about how to talk to a DJ (taken from the guide „how to talk to humans“).
Lastly, I want to give you a quick guide about what to say to a DJ other than „are you the dj?“:
Smile, say hello, maybe your name, state your issue politely
Don’t accuse, if you have a question ask neutrally and listen
Guess what, most DJs are kind and social (except those who became hardened misanthropes). We work with some of the most fun resources in the world: music. We love to have a good time.
We like people who give us thumbs up. We like people who say „eh, personally not my music but you’re doing a great job with the crowd. I’m a guest at this party so I don’t expect my music to be played.“ Some will be surprised when DJs answer „personally, not my music either, but that’s not what it’s about here. Cheers!“ If I write my DJ autobiography one day, it’ll be called “Privat hör ich ja was anderes”.
Yesterday, I hosted and djed one of Hamburg’s biggest New Year’s Eve parties at Emporio Tower for the third time in a row. It was a lovely fest with good food, the best view on the fireworks and, of course, a great music mix. It also brought back last year’s memories: Beneath the highest, 360° glass facade floor, there are 22 levels of offices. Last year, when unloading my dj equipment, a posh office guy stood with me in the elevator and said “working New Year’s Eve? Bet you’re making good money tonight. Well, whatever you make tonight, I make that in one hour.” That was the same night, when, at the very end of the party, a fire alarm went off. Some people’s New Years resolution to work out more were put promptly into action: for safety reasons, we had to walk down 23 levels. (It turned out later, that it was false alarm. But that was when we all already walked downstairs). This year, everything was fine. No condescending businessmen, no fire alarm, just a great party. To celebrate the New Year, I chose 9 pictures of me in 2016, that were most important to me:
Hi there! This used to be my blog. But it got hacked. Three fans informed me about it:
It was hacked by some Japanese lemonade shop and for a minute I was just like “guess that’s what I’do now. I got fig, kiwi and dragonfruit”.
Getting my hacked website fixed was, for several months, one of the biggest lies I have told myself, right after Late Night Shows not being able to contact me via it. (No Late Night Show contacted me, I think. After restoring my mail system, the only emails I got during the malfunction are a Flixbus commercial, an indeed invitation and my numerous test emails [with every test email a cruder subject]).
While I was fixing my website I followed this general advice:
Well, I didn’t make my deep down dreams come true yet. But surely getting closer to it. This year, I did stand-up comedy for several months in San Francisco to become better. I started doing improv comedy to become quicker. And I started drawing cartoons to become sharper. I organized my first very own comedy shows to become better at hosting and crowd work. Not everything gets better: I still have crazy eyes:
While I get this blog rolling again, I’m thankful that you came back here. Thanks for not buying japanese juice instead!
Hundreds of posts are lost and many links and search requests end on my 404 not found page. I am sorry for that. I had to erase all the content for safety reasons. If you’re looking for something specific, feel free to drop me a line.