Otto Reutter


A badly shaven man with eyes on stalks, who looks like a cabbie, in an inexcusable suit and worn boots, takes the stage. He looks gormlessly into the audience and starts to sing quietly to himself. This facility is indescribable. What he sings isn’t really all that funny, how could it be? He is singing the two thousand four hundred and twenty-eighth rhyme of his career, and there aren’t that many good ones. But this fatso has a gracefulness that gets you every time.

The punchlines are delivered gently, like snow falling on a windless winter evening. I won’t say anything about the political ones. During the war, the man was terribly, belligerently sure of victory, with the typical public bar hooray patriotism which carried no obligations, in which just joining in the shouting was enough. And when he gets political these days, God help us. Not because I don’t like his direction, but because the statements are not sincere. But having said that, what an artist! He shakes everything out of his sleeves, he doesn’t sweat, he doesn’t shout, he breathes his punchlines into the air, and everyone just rolls over. Each refrain better than the one before, how must this brain work that it creates a new situation after every funny conclusion? And what situations!

One refrain was, „It’ll all be over in fifty years!” Holy Fontane[1], you would have loved it! The melody broke off on ‚years‘, in the third beat, and was completed by the piano while he just stood there looking stupid. He looked like a dairy farmer, and delights and charms with his gracefulness. If the dentist, he sang, drags you round the room by a tooth, and there is no end in sight, “don’t worry about the agony, it’ll all be over in fifty years!”

And then a song sung in a completely inebriated, naively unsuspecting tone, „Nowt surprises me any more!” He came home one evening, he sang, and:

There is a man standing in front of the wardrobe,
who says, „Hey, you! Give us a hand!
It’s too heavy for me on my own.”
Nowt surprises me any more!

Accompanied by a moon face, passive, and shining mildly through the clouds. What can you say? The audience doesn’t say anything, they are rolling around in the aisles, and when they get up, a modest, fat man, without the slightest allures, although he is such a great artist, takes a bow.

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