Monty Python – in German

SpamalotLike many people, I grew up watching the silly antics of Monty Python on TV, and as you grow older it seems that the silliness becomes funnier.

I only have to look at John Cleese to start smiling, much the same as when I look at Tommy Cooper. There’s something about that type of comic that is ageless.

And so, when I was asked by my German colleagues if I wanted to go to the theatre and watch Monty Python’s musical ‘Spamalot’, it seemed rude not to accept.

I put the idea to the back of my mind, as the invitation was made several months ago, but then last week I was reminded about it and asked again if I wanted to go.

Of course I said yes, but then when I was told the musical would be in German (I don’t know why I was surprised, as I was going to see it in Hamburg, after all) I started to wonder if it was such a good idea.

Needless to say, it was too late to turn back, and the tickets were ordered.

I have been ‘trying’ to learn German (not in a very committed way if I am being honest, but perhaps that will be explained more in future posts) for a while, and I wondered if I would be able to understand the show at all. I was also puzzled if this very strange, but very typically British humour would translate, particularly to our teutonic neighbours from across the North Sea.

Since I have been working in Germany for almost two years now, I know that the typical view us Brits have of the stereotypically ‘cold’ Germans is far removed from reality (like most stereotypes I guess), and the vast majority of Germans I come into contact with are lovely people.

There were five of us going to watch the play, and we met and had a drink and something to eat in a bar in an area of Hamburg called St. Pauli, where the theatre was located. To those who don’t know St. Pauli, I would politely describe it as a ‘lively, cosmopolitan’ area.

At the weekend it is full of stag parties and apparently (so I heard from a German colleague last night) it is where lots of German guys go to celebrate their 18th birthday, as a kind of rites of passage experience, if you catch my drift!

We arrived at the theatre just before curtain up, and it was a lovely, old, and very small theatre with a good old fashioned feel about it.

The first half of the show was typical Monty Python, and I was pleased that I could follow a good portion of it, and laugh at the right parts! I was helped because Monty Python is quite visual in terms of the silliness, and of course, grown men prancing about a stage on a make believe horse as they clap two coconut halves together to sound like horse’s hooves is funny in any language, right?!

The half time interval came and we headed for the bar. This is where one of the few things I don’t like about Germany came into being….how long they take to pour a glass of beer!

What is the problem?!!

I told my German colleagues that by the time we had our drink in our hand, if we were in England we would probably have almost finished our second drink by that time!

Perhaps that is one of the reasons Germans are much better behaved whilst they are out drinking, because they are not in any rush to swill vast quantities down in as short a space of time as we Brits are.

The second half of the show – which we only just made the start of due to the long wait for a beer to be poured – was not so much typical Python, but judging by the reaction from the German audience, very funny nonetheless. Unfortunately for me I found it difficult to follow the dialogue as easily as I did in the first part, but oddly enough, I still found it highly comical.

Overall, it was much better than I imagined it would be, and my lack of German might have prevented me from understanding all the jokes and songs, but did not stop me from thoroughly enjoying the show, and I am glad I experienced my first musical in a theatre in Germany, with the show being entirely in German.

Of course, as we left the theatre and headed for a final drink of the evening, the show’s signature song ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ was in everybody’s head, and sung spontaneously every now and then!


A great night out, thank you Hamburg!




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