Germany has never been as renown for good comedy or politics, as it was for bureaucracy, luxury cars, or invading Poland. Needless to say that political TV shows here are pretty repetitive and uncontroversial. I have to admit that I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I’m always bored to death when I get a glimpse of one these prime-time talk shows with high-profile political guests.
And while many German comedians like to have a poke at politicians, there seems to be few shows that seriously discuss politics from a humorous point of view. Actually, only the heute show comes to mind, which is — as the name suggests — more or less a rip-off of John Stewart’s Daily Show. It’s not bad, but definitely not as good as the original.
So sure, I’m jealous of the US for having great shows like John’s and Stephen Colbert’s. I’ve been watching them for quite some time now. But I got even more jealous, when I recently discovered Real Time with Bill Maher.
Unlike other comedy shows, which focus on monologue or dialogue, Bill Maher invites several guests and actually has a discussion with them. While some of the guests appear on the show regularly, there is a huge variety of guest from politics, culture and science — some rather famous, others hardly known outside their field. But they all seem to have interesting things to say on Real Time and actively engage in discussion. It may be because Bill does not shy away from inviting guests with different points of view. At the same time he manages to moderate conflicts and keep the discussion factual while encouraging witty humor.
Of course Bill (also being a stand-up comedian) throws in his own jokes now and then. For instance his proposal for a new gun control law, after the horrible Trayvon Martin incident:
I think we should have a ‘use it or loose it’ law. Yeah. Where at least once every 6 months you HAVE to shoot someone! After all, isn’t that what gun nuts really want? Otherwise what’s the point of collecting something that just sits on the shelf? I mean I collect rare Ming-Dynasty opium pipes — but I USE them.
Or this remark to Republican voters in the 2012 primaries:
For a Republican candidate to NOT disappoint you, he would have to be Jesus of Nazareth. And even Jesus would be toast after a few news-cycles, because:
– Feed the hungry? Sounds suspiciously like welfare!
– And heal the sick? For free?? … That is definitely Obama-Care!
– And turn the other cheek? Maybe you didn’t hear, Jesus, but this is the party that cheers executions!
Or his famous New Rule segments:
New rule: If you wanna send me a link, you must take the extra 5 seconds to tell me what it is! How do I know if I’m going to see some adorable kittens at play or a piece of truly disgusting fetish porn that will be burnt into my brain for the rest of my life? I NEED that info, because really at this point, I’ve seen plenty of kittens.
New rule: If you find yourself prefacing more than half the things you say with: ‘I’m not a racist, but …’ — you’re probably a racist.
New Rule: Mitt Romney has to start understanding why people don’t like him. It’s not because he’s rich. It’s how he got rich. […] Henry Ford […] Walt Disney […] Jobs and Wozniak […] Mitt Romney […] You see what the first 3 have that Mitt doesn’t? A product! Something they made besides money.
Boy, I really wish we had a show like that here in Germany. Although, to be fair, American politicians really make it easy for comedians. I mean German politics is fucked up (especially here in Bavaria) but luckily we don’t have weirdos that would match up with Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum.