Simply not true

26 09 2021

It is a commonly held view amongst the English – or more correctly “the British” – that the Germans have no sense of humour. Likely a cultural defence mechanism exaggerated for propaganda during the war. Like the story that carrots help you see in the dark to hide the fact that RADAR was helping night fighter pilots shoot down a high percentage of Luftwaffe bombers at night. Not quite sure how allegedly superior British humour (and the apparently contradictory stiff upper lip) were supposed to help win a war, but hey ho… government decisions rarely make sense or bear up to later analysis, even now. (I should know – we just had an election.)

Despite many from my own generation – born in the 60s – having made (and sometimes un-made, or simply left in the box) German-speaking friends over the years, the unproven assumption has largely been perpetuated through a complete lack of willingness to learn the language sufficiently well to accept that German speakers have just as much humour as the rest of humanity. I’d have to say that the Scandinavians share a humour just as “sneaky” and unexpected as the British, but then many of us share common ancestry and dubious dress sense too. Personally I draw the line at wearing cow horns on my head though. (Except on special occasions in a consensual situation.)

Americans on the other hand share (mostly, and despite institutionalised incorrect spelling of most words rightly containing ‘u’) the same language but have somehow managed to wring most if not all the humorous potential out of it and are left believing that Chaplin-esque “Mr Bean” is downright hilarious whereas Brits now grow out of it pre-puberty, not to return to such “in your face” humour until early senility. Even then, they don’t require a laugh track to tell them when the funny bits are happening. Mention the plumage of the Norwegian Blue or say someone isn’t in fact the Messiah but actually a very naughty boy and you’ll be met with a confused expression rather than a knowing chuckle. Somehow this side of the pond has settled for a largely literal, visual or “dysfunctional family” sit-com type humour.

Still with me? All that nonsense and deliberately inflammatorily selective example-drawing was just to introduce the fact that I’m currently enjoying “Crime Scene Cleaner” – the English subtitled version of German black comedy series “Der Tatortreiniger” – from the library. Originally produced between c2011-2018 and running to 30+ episodes in all.

Hapless Schotty encounters situations in each episode’s crime scene cleanup as he brings his expert cleaning skills and dubious world view to different extreme circumstances. There are no gruesome body parts for those of you with squeamish sensitivities – though I did find all the Teutonic cigarette smoking a little jarring. 😉

If you can get your hands on a copy in your local library… and still have a DVD player on which to play it… highly recommended.

EDIT: I have just been informed that the BBC are broadcasting a British remake called simply “The Cleaner” starring Greg Davies (The Inbetweeners) in the leading role. I haven’t seen it, so can’t comment on whether the wry humour of the original has been maintained.