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COMEDY

The best TV comedies to improve your German while making you laugh

Do you need an excuse to watch more comedy TV? We have researched and compiled a list of our favourite German TV comedies ranging from sitcoms to slapstick - all guaranteed to make you laugh.

The best TV comedies to improve your German while making you laugh
A still from Danni Lowinski, about a woman who charges per minute for legal advice. Photo: DPA

Often native language sources trump textbooks when it comes to later stages of language learning. You can gain a great familiarity with the fluency of a language through TV, and comedies in a foreign language can give you an insight into the sense of humour of a whole culture.

Sometimes TV shows are also available with subtitles, making them suitable for all language abilities. We have put together a selection of German TV comedies which might help you improve your language skills, whatever your level – and give you a few laughs at the same time.

Turkisch für Anfänger

Following the everyday lives of a Turkish-German step-family in Berlin, Turkisch für Anfänger (Turkish for Beginners) this show is a lot of fun and very quick-witted. 

After Doris falls in love with Metin, a police officer of Turkish descent, their families move in together, much to the disdain of their children. The story is narrated by Lena, Doris’s 16 year old daughter. Cultural differences and conflicts create a comedy of errors in this series as the two families merge.

Even without subtitles, the German is fairly easy to understand, and it can educate you on the Umgangsprache or the punchy way that people speak in real life thanks to the colloquial dialogue.

It was originally broadcast between 2006 and 2008 and has three seasons – so get stuck in.

Available on Amazon Prime Video in Germany, on MHz Choice in the US and Canada (with English subtitles), or on DVD

Danni Lowinski

Following the story of a young hairdresser, Danni, who has qualified as a lawyer by taking night classes, Danni Lowinkski has five seasons, which were broadcast between 2010 and 2014.

In the show, Danni is unable to find a job at a solicitors' firm so she sets up a law clinic in a small shopping centre in Cologne.

Danni charges a euro per minute for her legal advice, hoping to gain work experience and then find a job. She makes friends with store holders in the shopping centre and begins to represent (often entertaining) clients in court.

The German is a bit more challenging for this show and there are no subtitles, but it is still a good option if you already have a strong language ability.

Available on Sky in Germany, or on DVD

Stromberg

A mockumentary inspired by Ricky Gervais’s The Office, this programme follows Bernd Stromberg in the office of a fictional insurance firm ‘Capitol Versicherung AG’.

In the show, which has five seasons and was broadcast between 2004 and 2012, Stromberg is the head of the claims settlement department. The sitcom, which is hugely popular in Germany, follows his department’s often chaotic day-to-day life.

It is available free online and although it doesn't have subtitles, its fairly sophisticated sense of humour is still easy to grasp.  Probably not suitable for beginners but a great option, particularly for fans of The Office.

Available free on My Spass and on Amazon Prime Video in Germany, Has been on Netflix in the US in the past but currently only available on DVD outside of Germany.

Pastewka

The Pastewka has echoes of the American series Curb Your Enthusiasm, starring Seinfeld director Larry David. 

It follows the life of the Cologne-based comedian Bastian Pastewka, who continually causes problems for himself due to his clumsiness and habit of fibbing.

The show features lots of running jokes, which is great for a foreign language audience, since once you have understood a joke once, its repetition will be automatically funny. Series eight also features German subtitles, which is a massive bonus and a great way to learn when watching in a foreign language..

Its hilarious seven seasons were broadcast between 2005 and 2014. This year it was taken over by Amazon, and series eight was released exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.

All eight series are available on Amazon Prime Video in Germany, Series 1-7 are available free on My Spass, available on DVD elsewhere.

Knallerfrauen

Knallerfrauen is a comedy sketch show starring Martina Hill with four seasons, which were broadcast between 2011 and 2015. The humour is often sophisticated but there is also a large amount of slapstick – physical and non-verbal – comedy, which translates well into any language.

Hill plays with female stereotypes and switches between lots of entertaining roles. The humour comes from the female point of view, which is quite refreshing.

You can also find lots of clips on the Knallerfrauen YouTube channel, and the majority have English subtitles. These are great small comedy clips perfect for those with only beginner’s German, due to the type of comedy and uncomplicated dialogue.

You can find full catch up episodes on Sat1 online, or clips on YouTube. It is also available on DVD.

Mord mit Aussicht

Mord mit Aussicht (Murder with a View) is a satirical crime comedy series with three seasons broadcast between 2007 and 2014. The show follows an ambitious detective, Sophie Haas, who, instead of her expected promotion to head of the Cologne murder department, is sent to lead the police department in a sleepy rural town. You can guess how that goes down…

The majority of the humour centres on the culture shock of Sophie’s move to the city and the characters who she encounters, and despite first impressions of the town, she manages to find some crimes to solve.

There are no subtitles availability for the show and it is probably best for those who already have a reasonable level of German, although the language isn't extremely challenging and the humour is not too difficult to understand. 

All 3 Series available on Amazon Prime Video in Germany, some episodes available on Das Erste online, available on DVD.

 

What do you think about our choices? Do you have any recommendations? Let us know: [email protected]

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LEARNING GERMAN

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

Once you've learned the basics of German, listening to podcasts is one of the best ways of increasing vocabulary and speeding up comprehension. Here are some of the best podcasts out there for German learners.

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

STARTING OUT

Coffee Break German

Coffee Break German aims to take you through the basics of German in a casual lesson-like format. It is extremely easy to listen to. Each 20-minute episode acts as a mini-lesson, where German native Thomas teaches Mark Pendleton, the founder and CEO of Coffee Break Languages, the basics.

All phrases are broken down into individual words. After new phrases are introduced the listeners are encouraged to repeat them back to practise pronunciation.

The advantage of listening to this podcast is that the learner, Mark, begins at the same level as you. He is also a former high school French and Spanish teacher. He often asks for clarification of certain phrases, and it can feel as if he is asking the very questions you want answered.

You can also stream the podcast directly from the provider’s website, where they sell a supplementary package from the Coffee Break German Academy, which offers additional audio content, video flashcards and comprehensive lesson notes

German Pod 101

German Pod 101 aims to teach you all about the German language, from the basics in conversations and comprehension to the intricacies of German culture. German Pod 101 offers various levels for your German learning and starts with Absolute Beginner.

The hosts are made up of one German native and one American expat living in Germany, in order to provide you with true authentic language, but also explanations about the comparisons and contrasts with English. This podcast will, hopefully, get you speaking German from day one.

Their website offers more information and the option to create an account to access more learning materials.

Learn German by Podcast

This is a great podcast if you don’t have any previous knowledge of German. The hosts guide you through a series of scenarios in each episode and introduce you to new vocabulary based on the role-plays. Within just a few episodes, you will learn how to talk about your family, order something in a restaurant and discuss evening plans. Each phrase is uttered clearly and repeated several times, along with translations.

READ ALSO:

Learn German by Podcast provides the podcasts for free but any accompanying lesson guides must be purchased from their website. These guides include episode transcripts and some grammar tips. 

DEVELOPING YOUR GERMAN

Easy German

This podcast takes the form of a casual conversation between hosts Manuel and Cari, who chat in a fairly free-form manner about aspects of their daily lives. Sometimes they invite guests onto the podcast, and they often talk about issues particularly interesting to expats, such as: “How do Germans see themselves?”. Targeted at young adults, the podcasters bring out a new episode very three or four days.

News in Slow German

This is a fantastic podcast to improve your German listening skills. What’s more, it helps you stay informed about the news in several different levels of fluency.

The speakers are extremely clear and aim to make the podcast enjoyable to listen to. For the first part of each episode the hosts talk about a current big news story, then the second part usually features a socially relevant topic. 

A new episode comes out once a week and subscriptions are available which unlock new learning tools.

SBS German

This podcast is somewhat interesting as it is run by an Australian broadcaster for the German-speaking community down under. Perhaps because ethnic Germans in Australia have become somewhat rusty in their mother tongue, the language is relatively simple but still has a completely natural feel.

There is a lot of news here, with regular pieces on German current affairs but also quite a bit of content looking at what ties Germany and Australia together. This lies somewhere between intermediate and advanced.

A woman puts on headphones in Gadebusch, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Photo: dpa | Jens Büttner

PERFECTING YOUR GERMAN

Auf Deutsche gesagt

This is another great podcast for people who have a high level of German. The host, Robin Meinert, talks in a completely natural way but still manages to keep it clear and comprehensible.

This podcast also explores a whole range of topics that are interesting to internationals in Germany, such as a recent episode on whether the band Rammstein are xenophobic. In other words, the podcast doesn’t just help you learn the language, it also gives you really good insights into what Germans think about a wide range of topics.

Sozusagen

Bayern 2 present their podcast Sozusagen! for all those who are interested in the German language. This isn’t specifically directed at language learners and is likely to be just as interesting to Germans and foreigners because it talks about changes in the language like the debate over gender-sensitive nouns. Each episode explores a different linguistic question, from a discussion on German dialects to an analysis of political linguistics in Germany.

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