Humour – men, women and the Germans

Amelie Pyta talks to a successful German comedienne about her attitude to various kinds of humour.

Sexy Is Something Different is the name of a new programme from Anka Zink. The German comedienne is an old stager in her business and has been performing since 1980. She was born and grew up in Bonn.

She discovered her passion for comedy in a theatre group. In fact, Miss Zink was studying sociology and was working in a university. “I would have kept working in the academic area if there were good prospects for me,” she said. But she felt she did not get appreciation for her work and had to work for others. “In comedy, I found more possibilities for my self-realisation.”

It all started from scratch. In a little group, Anka Zink performed her first sketches. “We had no idea how it would work out. We just did it. We went to a pub and we invited some people to the back room and told them our jokes. The people were happy and we were also happy.”

Of course there were also some embarrassing moments. “There were a lots of embarrassing moments. Sometimes I forgot my lines.” But that did not stop her being successful.

Today Anka Zink enthuses many people with her performances. Her ideas she gets from world affairs. And she does not mince matters. “I do say some critical things and I don’t shy away from confrontation. When a man says something critical, he seems to be self-confident. But when a woman says something critical, she is a cow.”

“When a man says something critical, he seems to be self-confident. But when a woman says something critical, she is a cow”

Generally, equality for women is an important subject for Anka Zink. It seems to be that there are not so many comediennes on stage. “I try to rebut this stereotype. The head of a cultural institution in Nürnberg publishes every year a list of cabaret artists and comediennes; there are 150 names on that list.”

But why do we not know of many comediennes? “They are all playing in the Premier League. But you only know the big names, only the ones who are playing in the Champions’ League.”

It seems to be that women are not taken seriously in the comedy business. Are women treated differently than men? “It has to do with the patriarchy in the world. There is a role expectation of women.”

Also women have a different concept of humour. “You can only laugh about something that you take seriously or that is believable. Men as comedians talk about the world and how this world should be. And other men listen to that.” It is different for women. “Women talk about how they experience the world. That’s a change of perspective. It is not so funny because it’s about self-reflection.

“As a man, you will get judged because of that what you are saying and what you are doing. As a woman, you will get judged by how you look. You can also see this in the arts. The man is shown with a sword and the woman is carrying a tin. When you as a woman are on stage, everybody just looks at what you are wearing. When you are unlucky and you have got a piece fluff at the crotch, then you can be sure that everyone is just starring at the fluff and isn’t listening to what you are saying.”

It is shocking to realise that this is probably true and it is a shame that women in the 21st century are still judged by their appearances.

On another topic, the new programme, Sexy Is Something Different, deals with the digital world. Often older people are sceptical about social media but not Anka Zink. “I find social media are great. I find it great that we can talk now here about a certain provider; otherwise it would be too expensive.”

Of course there are also negative things. “The disadvantage of this new thing is that my personal responsibilities to care about things grow. You are harassed with all this digital nonsense. You have to see what is important for you and what is not important.”

For her personal promotion, Anka Zink has a Facebook site. “I have a Facebook page with 1,400 followers. But it’s hard for me to care about my page. Meanwhile I know how to publish a good post. That’s work for me and often I don’t want to do it.”

This year in Germany there was a big discussion about satire. The German moderator Jan Böhmermann wrote a smear poem about the Turkish president Recep Erdogan. Erdogan pressed criminal charges against Böhmermann. Since then, the relationship between Germany and Turkey is not very good.

The discussion raises the question: Is there a border beyond which satire should not go?

“Yes, there are borders. Erdogan was very mortally offended and Böhmermann should have known this. Erdogan has 200 lawsuits against him. The poem from Jan Böhmermann was tasteless and sexist. It wasn’t very well researched. It was a conscious provocation.”

That the whole thing went to court was absolutely right for Anka Zink. “For me the whole process was correct.”

Here in Ireland, people have a different sense of humour. There is something appealing about this kind of humour because the people do not take themselves so seriously. In Germany it is quite different. We do not have any humour, many people think. Is that true?

“It’s a stereotype – the Germans do have a sense of humour. It’s such a special kind of humour. They don’t have so much self-mockery.” And the reason for that is our dark past. “That’s because of our history. We lost two wars and we were rebuilt by the Americans. That is why Germans always have to be politically correct.”

Is that why we do not have the courage to say something critical? “The Germans don’t have much self-confidence. But we are a very friendly and warm-hearted nation.”

Maybe we should realise that. And we need people who have the courage to say something critical when it needs to be said – people such as Anka Zink.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>