Not the World’s Worst German [by Sharu Delilkan]
The ‘Worst. German. Ever.‘ luckily is not the worst comedy I have seen so far during the festival, but to be honest he wasn’t the best.
Having seen excerpts of Paco Erhard on Comedy Central we were looking forward to tonight – especially some self-depreciating German jokes and observational comedy on the differences and similarities of nations and peoples. However he seemed a little bit nervous from the start. And yes it’s his debut in Auckland, having been to Wellington for his Kiwi debut over the weekend, but surely this is the fuel for humour that he could have exploited to his benefit.
Talking about Wellington as if he thinks that it means he’s done ‘local research’ gets my back up quite early on, a sentiment that I’m sure a majority of the audience shared. If he had indeed done his research he would have known the Auckland-Welly divide, but I digress.
It’s only when he’s more than halfway through the show that he gets into his stride showing flashes of brilliance and giving insight into well-thought out observations, but there were a number of things we wanted more of. Firstly we would have liked to hear more about his background, which was only alluded to, aka why would a German go to England to do standup comedy? Next we really could have done with more fluidity between jokes/stories. In general much as he does show some promise intermittently, he clearly has not worked out how to create crescendos to get the audience in stitches. Instead he gets a few laughs randomly peppered around the room – not what one wants on their opening night in a new city (I’m sure)!
However his explanation of the way in which Germans obey road rules was his possibly his best joke this evening. And to his credit was delivered perfectly. But again more of the same i.e. further insight into the German psyche would have been really awesome. And lastly I really wanted him not to worry so much about the average-to-tough crowd and to just tell us what he wanted to say because a majority of what he was saying was actually quite poignant, interesting, worldly and wise. Shame he didn’t have enough confidence in himself.
Erhard is clearly a nice guy and the audience really wanted to like him but unfortunately he just didn’t give us enough ammunition to raise the roof on this occasion. The long and the short of it all is that the sum definitely did not live up to its parts i.e. certain jokes worked while many in between just didn’t quite connect.
His expression of the typical German guilt about the past that translated into hope for the future definitely had merit. But as he said he is planning to leave the UK soon because he has become too British with being over apologetic. And I agree he doesn’t need to apologise or be polite to make us laugh – we just want to hear more about what he’s done, where he’s been, and what interests him along the way. Maybe if he just gave us an honest account of who he actually is, we might have been able to connect with him more – something I know many audience members were desperately trying to do.
Paco Erhard Worst. German. Ever. is presented by Dave Bloustien & Wit Large, part of the NZ International Comedy 2015, and plays at Q Vault until 9 May. Details see Q.