I have a friend who plays French horn in the Munich Philharmonic no less. He smuggles me into concerts when I’m down that way. He used to bring his stratospherically talented mates in the brass section to see the Natural Theatre’s musical spoofs on our highly successful German tours.
I’m not certain if our relaxed attitude to classical music was an influence, but they formed a comedy brass ensemble that plays TV themes and kitsch pop classics. We tried book them for Bath Comedy Festival 2012, but unfortunately they will be busy playing in the real orchestra in Vienna.
Their version of musical humour is selling out in huge venues over there, while over here Henning Wehn, the German comedian who mentions nothing but the war is getting ever-growing audiences rolling in the aisles with a show entitled Four World Cups and One World Pope.
It’s all goes to prove that the Germans do have a sense of humour after all. I’ve known this for years of course, as the Naturals originally purchased their Widcombe HQ largely with the profits of extensive touring in the Fatherland. In fact, the giggling German public and the UK lottery contributed in equal measure to the building fund!
For twenty years we toured five different versions of our Baroque extravaganza about the composer for the harpsichord Domenico Scarlatti. We celebrated his birthday, his wedding and his revenge. When we finally killed the old blighter off in Scarlatti in Paradise, thousands of German fans came to mourn him. Amongst them were three middle aged men who kindly offered to take the entire company out for a posh dinner.
Imagine our surprise when over dessert our hosts began quoting, word perfect, line after line from the five shows.. What’s more, they fell about laughing uproariously as they did so. Never have three gentlemen enjoyed themselves so much at table, while we stared on dumbfounded.
I’m not sure if that proved Germans have a sense of humour, or whether it just proved they’d stolen ours. We of course, having delivered the funny lines literally thousands of times over the years, were not in the slightest bit amused. However, in a situation where the meal and the wine are free, you learn to grin and bear it!