Henning Wehn, Germany’s self-styled comedy ambassador, admitted as much when I spoke to him before his visit to Lincoln Drill Hall for his Lincoln Comedy Festival appearance. “It’s a five o’clock kick-off so we’ll just have to see how it goes,” he said wistfully, assuming perhaps that the inclement weather and lack of alcohol would put a damper on his audience.
He needn’t have worried. I was pleasantly surprised by the buzz around the Drill Hall when I arrived for the gig – he must have packed around 200 people in – and Wehn soon won them over with his smart and edgy culture clash comedy, toying with British and German stereotypes and clobbering the Dutch, the Greeks and the Poles along the way.
“I’d like to apologise to all the Germans in the audience for the late start to the show,” he intoned over the mic at the beginning. “This was due to English inefficiency.”
Wehn’s show continued in this vein, poking fun at our obsession with the war, our stereotypical view of Germans and our inability to beat his country at football. At times he took the audience out of their comfort zone, as when he conversed with a compatriot audience member in German for a couple for minutes (“We were just doing what you English do every time you go abroad”) or when he discussed the Holocaust.
Henning Wehn is unique in that he only does stand-up in a foreign language, and his 75-minute effort was well worth the applause he won from his audience at the end. This was the first date on his UK tour – catch him if you can between now and Christmas.
A couple of hours later I was in another packed venue: this time the LPAC was sold out for the visit of Fascinating Aïda. If you’re not familiar with their act they’re a winsome trio of ladies in evening gowns who perform comic songs accompanied by Dillie Keane on the grand piano. It’s only when you hear their songs that you realise this is not an act for the faint-hearted…
Fascinating Aïda are a subversive lot: refined and genteel on the surface, they sing songs about greedy bankers, dogging, Tesco worship and being ripped off by RyanAir. Musically dextrous, they can turn their hand to a range of styles, from light classical through jazz to hip hop – a hilarious routine in which 60-year-old Dillie Keane professes to be ‘down with the kids’. They even ended their act with a clever song about the delights of Lincoln and bewailed the fact that their next date was in Woking…
Their song ‘Cheap Flights’ has become an Internet sensation – “With over 3 million hits it’s gone fungal!” If you can’t see them live at least click on to YouTube and see what all the fuss is about.