Why it is okay to laugh?

Why it is okay to laugh?

A german wehrmacht soldier performs. He snaps his heels together, raises his hand to the hitler’s pit: a scene from a comedy.

Is it allowed to laugh about something like that? The public is often divided on this point. And actors and directors don’t always agree either. The question of what jokes are allowed to be made about in the theater is a subject for discussion. We invited actors from the region to our editorial office to debate this very question with them.

Regarding the scene from the british tabloid comedy "don’t run away all the time" described at the beginning of this article, there is a need for professional support!" By philip king they all have a special relationship. Cosima and johannes asen have done the comedy both in 1990 and 2010 with the "bushwhackers" played. Georg madl, actor and director, slipped into the role of the german soldier in 2010. Martin geiger and dietmar hofmann are members of the "berndorfer kirchenmause" theater group. The stupefied has brought the last season on the stage. But in contrast to the "bushwhackers" theory there was no german soldier and no hitlergrub here – only a figure simply called "the soldier" heibt.

Why? "We have discussed this at length and decided to defuse these scenes", says dietmar hofmann. We have people in the audience who have lived through the war. They may not have thought it was funny." And, he says, "you don’t take anything away from the piece with it."

Even with the "bushwhackers there have been discussions in 1990 and 2010, how close to the original the figure should be created. King wrote the play in the forties; it was first performed in 1945. For the english audience at the end of the second world war, the caricature of a german soldier was good for a laugh.

The "bush-knockers had then, according to cosima asen, decided on a staging very close to the original. "It just goes with the territory." There was no trouble because of that. The character was also unproblematic for him, says actor georg madl. "The figure is designed as a bosewicht, that becomes quickly clear in the stucco. It is an exaggerated figure, a caricature."

It sounds paradoxical: but the question of what is funny on a theater stage is a serious matter. This becomes clear in the further course of our conversation. Everyone agrees: nothing is more difficult to realize than the light, loose, cheerful boulevard comedies. "You have to take the piece seriously, but convey lightness", says georg madl. "The boulevard comedy needs a lot of speed", says cosima asen. And it needs the interaction with the audience.

That often has rough expectations of the light comedy and is sometimes unpredictable. They have all had this experience. Dietmar hofmann and martin geiger recall the production "don’t look under the rose bed" from 2017, a hilarious comedy-thriller with a lot of black humor. "The many english names and the many corpses probably overwhelmed the audience at times," says, they say.

Georg madl reports about a piece in which the audience in the first performances always laughed heartily at a certain point. "At the next performance there was suddenly dead silence at this point. This irritates mablos." This is one of the reasons why there is a lot of discussion in the two theater groups during rehearsals: do we situate the play in the period in which it was written, or do we adapt it to modern circumstances?? Add a few extra gags, play a bit with local color..? That’s always good: "when people recognize something, they’re happy", says georg madl.

On the other hand, when people think something is politically incorrect, they sometimes complain. So georg madl was confronted with the accusation that the youngest "buschklopfer" was a serious matter-production "not now, darling!" Was sexist, because the women were portrayed as single-minded females."Not true at all", says the director. "In the time when the play was written, the image of women was different. You have to look deeper: in fact, it’s the manners that are the jerks."

And again and again the question comes up: what is it allowed to make jokes about?? If a joke involves an alcoholic or a disabled person in a wheelchair? Delete "un-words from the text? "We once said ‘mohr’ in a play whenever the text said ‘negro’", remembers dietmar hofmann. "That was quite bizarre."

What the director can ask of the actors is not to be ignored either. "I have not fallen in love with any role", says martin geiger, and dietmar hofmann also says: "i’m up for anything." But he immediately qualifies this: "i would not go on stage naked." Just as cosima and johannes asen were strictly forbidden to play a rape scene.

Apart from that, there is a broad consensus among our partners, tabloid comedy is allowed to do anything. Almost everything, as johannes asen puts into perspective: "humor yes – but it must never become degrading."

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