Michael Mittermeier, A German on Safari – review

Monday, October 15 2012

Of Michael Mittermeier's two celebrity endorsers, Eddie Izzard and Bono, it's the bland but moderately effective U2 singer that he resembles the most

Michael Mittermeier

A contradiction in terms, an oxymoron, a mystery. These are just some of the things you are invited to call him. Sadly clad not in khakis but in a rather cool jeans and blazer combo, Michael Mittermeier invites us on a safari adventure to gawp the wonders of him – a German comedian.

The problem is that this is now less of a rarity than he imagines. German stand-ups aren't really anything new. Henning Wehn has been shamelessly ploughing that furrow for years now, and as those who’ve seen Paco Erhard will know, there’s a new sharper breed of it too. National stereotypes and linguistic calamities are the order of the day for Mittermeier, which is all well and good – but against his sleeker rivals it’s starting to look a little clunky. The old German supremacy jokes come quick and they come fast, and save for the odd bit scintillating bit about Scots and elephant ears, it’s a steady jaunt that heil Hitlers all the way to the banking crisis.

Aside from the sartorial red herring, the theme itself is a bit misleading. It’s not that Mittermeier doesn’t reference safari – it bookends the show, and is peppered throughout – only it seemed a bit laboured, like a student sat next to an essay checklist repeating to themselves over and over "answer the question". It’s strung together well and it gets a good steady flow of laughter, but for all the close-to-the-bone jokes he plays it a bit safe. A bit on Nietzschean porn dialogue looks like it is gearing up for something awesome – but it seems to lose him with tidal wave laughter response (save for yours truly here over in Wankersville), and he quickly drops it.

He’s a likeable persona, neither alienating nor obsequious. He’s honestly keen to engage with his audience in all their rainbow nationality brilliance: it seems like there was someone in from every country on his comedy map, to his delight. This backfires though when the answer to the general question "Do you know what ..." is in fact the punchline, hollered from the back.

It’s good solid humour – but for me it offers nothing I haven’t see before, and usually better. For those who like their stereotype humour served up straight and true, it’s a direct hit; but for those of a more exacting taste, it’s all a bit old hat. Yes, I put my hands up – I’m a snob. But then I am English, after all.

3 stars

Review written by Sarah Sharp

Michael Mittermeier is appearing at Soho Theatre until October 20


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