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South Park takes aim at 'humourless' Germans

The Local · 16 Dec 2011, 11:21

Published: 16 Dec 2011 11:21 GMT+01:00

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In portions of “Funnybot,” an episode that premiered in the United States last May, German President Christian Wulff and Chancellor Angela Merkel invade a school and point guns at kids after Germans become angry over being called the world’s most unfunny people.

Though the German media seem to get the joke, some observers have fretted that the country is being portrayed as soulless and evil, especially at a time when Germans feel they are being unfairly demonized as Europe’s economic hegemon during the eurzone debt crisis.

While Die Welt newspaper gave the episode plaudits, it also wrote that it also portrayed German politicians as “barbaric” and furthered the Anglo-Saxon fascination with Germans’ supposed “evil genius.”

But Stern magazine said that while Germans are widely seen internationally as being humourless, that perception could be changed with an investment in public relations over coming years.

“In principle, you can get rid of every learned cliché,” PR expert Ernst Primosch told the magazine.

The episode seems to take particular aim at Germany’s 20th century history and current leadership.

It portrays politicians, including Merkel and Wulff, as bitterly angry that Germans have been called unfunny. They unveil a robot that tells jokes and eventually goes on a genocidal rampage.

The episode comes at a time where Merkel is being written about in increasingly dour terms by the international media.

A recent article in the US Newsweek magazine that portrayed Merkel as emotionless and insensitive during the euro crisis has raised particular discomfort in Germany, with some prominent figures worrying that the country is being maligned internationally.

The South Park episode “Funnybot” can be seen at 10:30 pm on Sunday on Comedy Central in Germany.

Story continues below…

The Local/mdm

See President Christian Wulff tell a few “jokes” during the episode:

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Your comments about this article

11:43 December 16, 2011 by TheCrownPrince
That's not funny.
12:11 December 16, 2011 by lucksi
Germans go into the cellar to laugh as is the saying. Humour is scary and to be avoided, except when everybody already knows the punchline.

And it's true. What is next? Some study saying that the Germans love rules? That there are regulations on how long, thick and unflexible the collective stick up our backsides has to be?
12:26 December 16, 2011 by Beachrider
OK.... It's SOUTH PARK.... Things are ALWAYS exaggerated to be barely recognizable on South Park. They put up a whole screenful of text at the beginning of every show that says EXACTLY that.

They are also fond of recursive situations where making fun of Germans for being humorless so some Englishmen can run it in Germany and get a humorless response IS SHOWING THEIR EXACT POINT.

The show is largely 'dick humor'. Not everyone will like it. There ARE 200 channels. They don't dislike Germans any more than anything else.
13:35 December 16, 2011 by frankiep
Exactly. And that is the great thing about South Park. They take aim at EVERYONE. People who get all offended and bent out of shape about what South Park does only serves to prove the point of what they are saying. Sometimes the outraged reactions of people are just as funny as the show itself.
13:47 December 16, 2011 by jg.
"...when Germans feel they are being unfairly demonized as Europe¦#39;s economic hegemon during the eurzone debt crisis."

The French apparently think that everything wrong in the EU is entirely the fault of the British, so its nice to know we can share some guilt with the Germans.

In the South Park episode concerned, the Germans do build a well-engineered robot that tells good jokes, so it is not all doom and gloom for Germany.
14:02 December 16, 2011 by HelloOutThere
That's right, South Park uses to spoof everyone and everything (especially the poor Canadians).

Whether this is actually appropriate or not (perhaps even insulting) is a different question.

The prejudice with Germans not having any humor is based on cultural differences (and ignorance) - when you don't understand a nation's humor it does not necessarily mean that this nation does not have any humor at all.
14:08 December 16, 2011 by derExDeutsche
South Park aren't the only ones. Christopher Waltz had this to say about the difference between Germans and Austrians on Conan O'Brien a couple nights ago..

14:14 December 16, 2011 by petenick
I was told that we Germans are like the police. We are not so bad when you get to know us.
14:42 December 16, 2011 by DOZ
Sounds about right: How long can you tread water.
15:00 December 16, 2011 by Navigator_B
"While Germans are widely seen internationally as being humourless, that perception could be changed with an investment in public relations over coming years. "In principle, you can get rid of every learned cliché,¦quot; PR expert Ernst Primosch told the magazine."

In other words, Germans will tackle their humourless image in their typically clinical efficient manner. Millions of Germans will receive thorough training in humour and may one day even become world champions in the comedy industry.
15:17 December 16, 2011 by HelloOutThere
Yes, our Austrian friends ... they still can't cope with the fact that Germany is big and important while Austria is - well - small and irrelevant. Oh yes and they still try to convince the world that Hitler was German and Mozart and Beethoven were Austrian (tough you have to admit that when it comes to Mozart you can really discuss whether he was "German" or "Austrian".

*Sarcasm off*

15:17 December 16, 2011 by hanskarl
This is nothing more than two forms of liberal American media demonstrating their hegemony. It is sad and stupid to think like this. They have nothing better to do than demonize and make fun of anyone and everyone who does not fit into their idealistic world of thought and ideas. Besides, they have to make a profit and they will go to nearly no ends to make a joke out of a perceived weakness and at their expense to accomplish the task.
15:20 December 16, 2011 by catjones
But then the germans ARE the ones taking umbrage over this trifle...thus completing the argument.
15:55 December 16, 2011 by storymann
Having lived in Berlin for many years, I find the Germans do have a sense of humor and can be quite affable.
16:03 December 16, 2011 by CensorThis
If you do not find this funny, it is even more that funny.
16:41 December 16, 2011 by Beachrider
Oh boy! Someone put liberal-conservative on THIS. Such people make too many analogies to 1-dimensional thinking.

"Zero is baaaaad, One is goooooood. Everyone should like One..."
17:24 December 16, 2011 by PMN
Wouldn't worry too much. That prog parodies everything. I am from Ireland and have met many German people in Spain. I found them initially a bit reserved but they were great fun once the ice was broken. Regards, Pat
17:37 December 16, 2011 by derExDeutsche
All one needs to do is watch Jon Stewart and (we hate conservatives and fair debate so much, we hired a liberal to play a Conservative) Stephen Colbert to know where Comedy Centrals allegiances lie. The truly sad side effect is that the MTV Generations inability to decipher their elbow from their a__h___ anymore. I've had young people convinced that Stephen Colbert was actually a Conservative. Its all part of the DNC Obama float. The REAL idiots in America.
18:00 December 16, 2011 by saverio
I guess they must of run out Canadian jokes.
18:05 December 16, 2011 by Landmine
Germans ARE humorous as long as they are filled up with beer....
18:42 December 16, 2011 by Beachrider

You are soooo far OT. Do you even read the subjects before commenting?
20:21 December 16, 2011 by wxman
Try to keep this in perspective. NOTHING and NOBODY are sacred to Matt Stone and Trey Parker. They have ridiculed, maligned and parodied literally every group, race, political entity, religion, nationality and personality type. Germany should consider itself to have "arrived" and be considered in good company with those that preceded them on the most irreverant South Park.
21:10 December 16, 2011 by yuri_nahl
I agree with comment 22. Anyway, as Herr Flick of the GESTAPO said, "Vee have ways of making you laugh."
21:48 December 16, 2011 by ovalle3.14
I know only one truly funny German, and I'm married to her.
21:49 December 16, 2011 by McNair Kaserne
Stationed in Berlin 2 years, Weisbaden 1 year, wife is German, many German friends, visit Germany regularly. All this over 30 years.

Germans have a great sense of humor. Trust me.
21:59 December 16, 2011 by franconia
What can you expect from a Country that speaks only one language. Americans wouldn't understand a joke in any language.
22:09 December 16, 2011 by Beachrider
If you are pejoratively talking about the USA, then understand that the US has more Spanish Language radio stations then the rest of the world COMBINED. There is a huge influx of non-English media on any Cable-TV setup.

Language in the USA is treated differently than in Europe. There is little doubt that business is very dominantly done in English. Immigration-hub metro areas clearly have many different languages spoken locally, though.
22:33 December 16, 2011 by franconia
Give me a break, since when do your Spanish speakers watch South Park ,Comedy Central or SNL? Reason you don't get German humor is, as you would not get Spanish language humor on Univision either. Ditto
22:50 December 16, 2011 by reallybigdog
South Park always stretches its comedy to ridiculous proportions. Unless your thick headed, uneducated and living in the woods alone with a goat you probably wont believe in any type of stereotypical propaganda in this day and age.

The only caveat I might add is that there are a lot of goats in England.
23:05 December 16, 2011 by derExDeutsche
@ Beachrider

what does Spanish Language Radio have to do with the article, genius?? do you even read the subjects before commenting?
00:59 December 17, 2011 by Anth2305
Sebastian Vettel admits that adores British humour, and a recent report says that 50 per cent of Britons have German blood coursing through their veins, so is humour all about nature or nurture?
03:36 December 17, 2011 by wood artist
I haven't seen this episode, but I do know Germans weren't the first that this show targeted...and they won't be the last. I know the stereotype isn't true, and so do many others. That doesn't mean it can't be funny, and if you allow yourself to get into the South Park frame of mind, it's usually pretty good. If you can't laugh at yourself, something's wrong. Otherwise...Blame Canada!

03:52 December 17, 2011 by Beachrider

... It was a direct comment to the comment directly above. Your introduction of Jon Stewart and Colbert was a COMPLETE non sequitur.

what color is the sky in your world?
11:04 December 17, 2011 by imbissfrank
As a retired American Soldier living in Europe for over 25 years, I think it asinine to state that the Germans are humorless. Of course they have a sense of humor, simply because it isn't full of profanity or references to sex, race, etc as is typical of American humor does not make them humorless.
12:37 December 17, 2011 by DES_Toronto
Horror! Horror! South Park is so unconscionable that it even mocked us Canadians, who have no faults!
14:30 December 17, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
I already saw the episode months ago in English, and didn't bother watching it again in German.

I found it moderately funny and decidedly not hilarious. Not because it mocks Germans and the German government, not even because of the cringeworthy mock German dialogues and fake German accents. The whole storyline itself was substandard, even by South Park's own notoriously low standards. The show has clearly seen better days.

As for Germans not being funny, well... it's just a different sense of humor. One that often isn't outright "ha-ha" funny, it lacks the witty sharpness, self-deprecation and double entendre of British humor, and it's undeniably different from the tall-tale absurdity and sitcom-style hilarity you often find in American humor... the German sense of humor may seem elusive and hard to pin down, but Germans still know a good joke or two when they hear it.
15:23 December 17, 2011 by Bruno53
Personally I don't give a hoot over this insipid and idiotic television cartoon show. So don't take it "seriously".

Well, maybe you gave us Kant, Schopenhauer, Fichte, Marx and Nietzsche. Here in USA we don't have that degree of philosophers [unless we can mention Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau and John Dewey as philosophers], but we gave Charlie Chaplin, Keystone Cops, Mabel Normand, WC Fields, The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges, Bob Hope and others that taught us to laugh at ourselves. Maybe you Germans needed these comedians as well! HA HA!
07:58 December 18, 2011 by Wrench
Get a life people! It's only South Park!
12:30 December 18, 2011 by storymann
Wrench, good point !
14:27 December 18, 2011 by hardly
There is no reason to defend the German sense of humor, to do so would allow for some seriousness to an invalid stereotype.

South Park has had some good episodes, but there are many jokes which they 'telegraph' in. The scatological humor has it's moments. Canadians, Germans, etc...I am not offended that they target different stereotypes, but I generally find it boring. They have the budget and audience to come up with fresh ideas. I would prefer Matt and Trey try a bit harder with their comedy.

South Park has nothing on The Mighty Boosh or Arrested Development.
18:26 December 19, 2011 by Bruno53
I forgot Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. And also Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, These guys taught me more of life than reading Schopenhauer, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche. Laugh is the best philosophy, German folks!
23:08 December 19, 2011 by beckyhead
How many Germans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

ONE! If it is engineered CORRECTLY!
09:45 December 22, 2011 by JAMessersmith
I don't know... I thought that cannibal joke was pretty funny.
21:40 December 22, 2011 by Anth2305
The Simpsons are also fond of digs at the expense of Germans, a couple of memorable ones among them was when Mr. Burns sold Springfield's nuclear power plant to new German owners and my favourite laugh out loud moment, was when those awful German backpackers made Homer dress in Lederhosen and sing '99 Luftballons'.. in German!
08:54 December 27, 2011 by OllO
Humor, being subjective, is not debatable. Not with any realistic expectations anyway. Some people (apparently an entire European nation) think Jerry Lewis is funny. At least he didn't work blue (usually). That can't be said for the sophomoric South Park boys.

Germany should embrace this episode, if only ironically. It would take the sting out of it.

Quality engineering on the other hand is measurable.
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