It all started with a fruit fly infestation in my apartment this summer. Mind you, I’m untidy but not filthy. Fruit flies magically give birth to themselves once they smell food. And I didn’t immediately take out the melon rind and apparently became the queen of my own fruit fly colony.
The timing was especially unlucky because I was to leave to Lake Tahoe the very next day. I thought I had extinguished all larvae. Two weeks later I came back to a fly covered apartment as if I had forgotten a dead body.
It was useful that I learned how to golf in Lake Tahoe because these new hitting skills came in handy. In a three hour kill streak I murdered all flies. And for those I couldn’t reach on the ceiling I set up vinegar death traps. And here’s a tip for you, if you ever have a fly plague yourself:
Do not put the vinegar traps next to open windows. In fact close all windows. Because all the flies outside will be attracted to your little vinegar cocktail party.
Also, don’t leave food or trash around ever. In my fridge, I now have a unit for food, one for drinks and one for waste.
And lastly, do not leave empty bottles around. My fly tribe did not survive, as I had thought, on that one melon juice stain. Judged by an enormous fly graveyard next to the empty bottles, they had lived off molecular beer particles. Until all the alcohol was gone and many addicts dropped dead.
I’m happy I had a fruit fly infestation.
The day after my massacre I went to Kassel to attend the Sommerakademie für Komische Kunst. For one week, twenty cartoonists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland met, drew cartoons and drank beer under the guidance of German comic legend Gerhard Seyfried and the Caricatura Gallery. And my fruit flies functioned as my muse for ten artworks, cartoons and even paintings. I included some of them in this post. All of our works will now be shown live at Stadtmuseum Kassel opening September 14th.
And here, my dear blog readers, a gallery with photos both from the Summer School and Lake Tahoe (all Sommerakademie photos (c) Caricatura Kassel):
Moin zusammen. Ich habe ein paar “Upcoming Shows” in nächster Zeit, auf die ich hier extra hinweisen möchte. Und bei so viel Comedy brauche ich einen künstlerischen Ausgleich: Gestern Nacht habe ich im fensterlosen Badezimmer Collagen gebastelt, weil da keine Mücken hinkommen. (Inspiriert von John Stezaker.) Los geht’s:
1) 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 23.08.2018 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 elf 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!
Der Mad Monkey Room, Berlins bester alternativer Comedyclub, hat begrenzt Platz, ihr könnt gerne hier Plätze reservieren: firstname.lastname@example.org oder einfach paar Minuten vor 20 Uhr kommen.
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: 5-1000.00 Eur).
2) Heute abend, 14.08.2018, gibt es die rare Gelegenheit mein Set auf English zu sehen: Flat Earth Comedy at It’s a bar, Kreuzberg, 21 Uhr.
3) Am 18.08.2018 performe ich in der BKA Late Night Show mit Stefan Danziger und Marne Litfin (EN).
4) Stand-up Comedy ohne Vorbereitung? In den USA heißt das “Setlist – Comedy without a net” und in Berlin heißt es Dead End! See me struggle or succeed, but certainly have fun, this Sunday, August 19th, at Bar800A in Berlin Wedding. 4a) Am 27. August tritt dort übrigens Judah Friedlander auf, Tickets gibt’s online, wouldn’t miss!
5) Immer nur Berlin, Berlin? Nö, am 29.08.2018 bin ich in Hamburg. Und zwar beim NDR Comedy Contest. Los geht’s um 20 Uhr. Wer auf meine Gästeliste mag, schreibt mir einfach (via Mail oder Social Media). So viele Freunde wie Gästelistenplätze habe ich nämlich gar nicht. 5a) Und am 6. September gibt es in Hamburg das letzte Knust Comedy Open Air für dieses Jahr, Eintritt frei, Spende erwünscht.
6) Zu guter Letzt ein “Save the Date”: Am 11. Oktober zeichnen wir für für Comedy Central in Berlin eine Show auf. Mehr Infos soon.
I’m always on the look out for funny and wise books about comedy and art. And sharing books is sharing love. So here are some picks, that I read this or last year:
Bridget Christie. A Book For Her. 2016.
Funny and wise words about being a woman in comedy and how to talk about topics that matter. Thanks Martin Niemeyer for recommending!
Stewart Lee. How I Escaped My Certain Fate –
The Life and Deaths of a Stand-up Comedian. 2011.
The best book about stand-up as a craft and artistic integrity. I underlined stuff on every single page as if I prepared for the stand-up college finals. I also love the way he disses himself in the footnotes.
Julia Cameron. The Artist‘s Way. 1992.
All time classic and the only self-help book I am willing to read. Healing steps for artistic creative recovery. I don’t know anyone who disliked it. (Who the hell borrowed this from me, though?)
Kit White. 101 Things to Learn in Art School. 2011.
The quick art rules in this little book can be applied 1:1 to stand-up. The short rules have the perfect length for my limited attention span. And, as a multiple art school reject, it gave me some piece of mind.
Austin Kleon. Show Your Work. 2014.
If you, like me, distrust social media and yet want to use it wisely as an artist. He also has a good blog for creatives: austinkleon.com
Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics – The Invisible Art. 1994.
For anyone interested in storytelling and visual art. Enchanting edutainment.
Dying Laughing. 2016.
No book, but a movie and must-see for comedians and congeners. I think I cried.
Charms Halpern, Del Close, Kim H. Johnson. Truth in Comedy: The Manual for Improvisation. 1994.
In this short manual improv pioneers examine the core of humor: truth. (Sorry Regina that I „borrowed“ it so long and tried to sneak it in your shelf as if I never had it.)
Ton Kurstjens. The Clown, from Heart to Heart. 2011.
Recommended by my clown teacher Ulrike Henseler. It includes games to find your inner clown and truly connect with people, heart to heart. I know some stand-ups who hate and want nothing to do with the concept of clowning. But finding your inner clown is core to finding your voice on stage and this book can help.
Brigitte Peter et al. Das Sprachbastelbuch. 1975.
Working in comedy means to connect to your inner child and use words. This brilliant Austrian language book for kids contains creative games for both. Inklusive Schimpfwort-ABC! Thank you again Regina!
On my current reading list are „The Subtle Art of how to not Give a F*ck (Manson)“, „Über das Geistige in der Kunst (Kandinsky)“ and „Bicycle Diaries (Byrne)“.
I’m always happy for new recommendations for wise and funny non-fiction!
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.
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.
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.