Paco Erhard discusses why he is the worst German ever in his free show for the Edinburgh Fringe 2014.
Hallo Paco. How are you today?
Good. But hung over. It’s the day after the day after the World Cup final and it is still, er, affecting me. When it comes to football, I do become patriotic. I’m very happy right now.
What makes you such a bad German?
I’m German, but I’m pretty crap at it. Being orderly and sensible are two of our biggest cultural values; but they never taught me how to be good at that or enjoy it. Before I left Germany 12 years ago, I tried my best. But it turns out I utterly enjoy being anarchic in my thinking, irreverent in my humour, mischievous in attitude, chaotic in lifestyle, irresponsible in my choices… and that kind of sh*t doesn’t fly with full-on traditional Germans.
Will your show help people understand the qualities that make a good German?
No. For that you’ll have to catch my 2012 show 5-Step Guide to Being German sometime. That topic is done. I’m German but hey, I’ve got other problems too.
Worst. German. Ever is a show about not fitting in, not wanting to fit in. A show about breaking out, travelling, living between cultures, sex, drugs and hunting for existential experiences, and most of all: laughing in the face of this world made up of media manipulation and marketing bullshit. It’ll be fun, mischievous, irreverent, and probably politically incorrect.
Who would you say is the best German ever?
This week: Mario Götze, the guy who won us the World Cup. But generally… the people at the edge of a society/country are always the best. Those who think, look, or even live outside the box. People set in the ways of their country will never be very interesting. Hello? A personality that doesn’t go further than the average characteristics of your country? Boring!!!
So in that regard, best German ever: Heinrich Heine probably. Amazing 19th century poet, razor-sharp satirist, and political activist. German but mostly in exile in Paris and travelled all over the place. Born Jewish, then Protestant. He perfectly mixed German romanticism and sentimentality with French esprit and a great (British?) sense of humour and upset the German authorities no end. A real role model.
As a German do you feel you have to work harder at the Fringe to win an audience over?
I’m not really here to win anybody over. I do what I do and if you love what I do you’ll be back next year. I’ve had hardcore Christians walk out of my show and I’ve offended others as well – some people prefer indignation over intelligent thought. As harshly as I will sometimes make my point, it is always with a strong moral compass. I don’t aim to offend, but I don’t mind if I do. If you’re offended, that’s your problem. It probably means you didn’t quite get it.
Secondly, as for being German: if you seriously hold a grudge against Germans, you’re in Magalluf in August, not in Edinburgh. It’s 2014. When I tell people I’m German, the usual response is “Oh, great! Whereabouts? I’ve been there!” Nobody goose-steps anymore and shouts “Beachtowels”. You’d just look like a knob.
What else are you looking forward to in Edinburgh this year?
Seeing all my comedy mates from around the world. Last time I saw them was in Melbourne and at Altitude and I miss them. Seeing amazing comedians’ shows: Benjamin Crellin, Anil Desai, Martin Croser, Brendon Burns, Imaan, Susan Calman, Jon Bennett, Dr Professor Neal Portenza, Sameena Zehra and John Robertson… there are just so many fantastic people out there! And I just look forward to the city of Edinburgh itself, a city I love – especially the little tucked away non-Fringe places where you can hide from the madness once in a while. I won’t tell you where they are though of course 🙂
Here’s a space to write about anything you want. Go for it:
Don’t let the media keep your blood sugar level of panic and worry up. The world is beautiful, all people around the world are essentially friendly, life is amazing. Take risks, do crazy stuff, stop buying shit, quit worrying, stand up to injustice. We’re more powerful than we think, if we just get together. Imagine not drinking Coca-Cola for one day. No problem at all for any individual. But imagine the entire world agreed not to drink Coke for just one day. An entire boardroom of überpaid executives would simultaneously and uncontrollably wee themselves.
Paco Erhard: Worst. German. Ever
Aug 1-25, 8.45pm