From the same country that produced Nietzsche, Wagner and the modern flamethrower comes one of the best stand-up comedy shows at this year’s Fringe. The thoroughly likeable Paco Erhard puts the manic in Germanic as he bounces around the stage, teaching you (almost) everything you need to know about the Fatherland.
The 5-Step Guide to Being German is funny, yet thought-provoking. Its brand of humour runs deeper and is more subtly satirical than your typical stand-up acts. As an exploration into various national stereotypes, Erhard is more interested in undermining them to hilarious effect than in relying on them for clichéd jokes.
However, there is plenty of self-deprecation when Erhard talks about his homeland and countrymen. It’s fitting that the Germans invented the word “angst”, given the list of hang-ups about themselves that he amusingly describes. He definitely mentions the war. Plus, his point about merging on the Autobahn – complete with diagram – is comedy gold so hilarious it’s worth the price of the ticket alone.
Australian audiences won’t have difficulty appreciating the jokes. You don’t have to already be familiar with German culture to find the humour in Erhard’s show – after all, it’s a so-called guide to becoming one. Besides, there’s plenty of material about Australia and Australians, not to mention sly, universal observations.
Paco Erhard’s has plenty to say about the problems inherent in national stereotyping, but he says it cleverly – it doesn’t get preachy, or too serious, nor does he beat you over the head with his message like some comedians. Shows like this prove exactly why humour and satire are so powerful.
If you’re looking for the Fringe’s hidden, underrated comedy gem, you can stop looking. The 5-Step Guide to Being German is wunderbar.
Venue: The Bunka, Austral Hotel, 205 Rundle St, Adelaide.
Season: 25 February – 18 March 2012.
Tickets: $15 – $20.
Duration: 1 hour.
Bookings: Fringetix via 1300 FRINGE, outlets or online.