Producers Warehouse, Sun Mar 1
When I first saw Erhard at the Adelaide Fringe years ago he was insightfully and incisively ripping into German culture. It was breathtakingly funny, brilliant, fresh and smart. Nothing was taboo. My face hurt from laughing and tears rolled down my cheeks.
That’s why I think, tonight, he had a bad night.
The Producers Warehouse is a great venue, but it seemed like an empty shell. The crowd was thin and even after being asked twice to move to the front, people stayed stuck to their seats (apart from one brave soul). The few empty rows in front made the room feel less cohesive and as Erhard himself observed, sitting together creates a feeling of community and makes the show work better. So perhaps that was at play.
Also at play was a sense that the material wasn’t quite as ready as it might have been. It didn’t feel honed. Some jokes fell flat and when they did Erhard called the audience ‘stupid’ or ‘dickheads’, which was hardly a good way to endear himself to us. Blaming the audience for unfunny jokes is not a smart move.
That said, Erhard is a comic genius. His shtick now is less about being German and more about the racism he’s encountered as he’s travelled the world. He is in a unique position to observe this. German people seem to be in repair mode – quietly apologising for their past while observing and perhaps accepting the criticism and racism they are encountering in the process. Erhard has the empathy to be able to translate this and he sees, he really sees. Most of the time, this results in cutting, brutal humour. Sometimes it falls flat. I could have forgiven the falling flat more easily if he hadn’t blamed the audience for it.
Paco Erhard: Worst. German. Ever. continues at Producers Warehouse until Sun Mar 15.
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