Henning Wehn - My Struggle

Henning Wehn might be the most bizarre stand-up comedian I have ever seen, but I think that's intentional. His whole aesthetic is based on a grinning, defiant sense of otherness, his thick and unusual German accent and knowingly eccentric appearance putting layers of persona-creating distance between the audience and his highly fluent English language material. Wehn's main joke is admittedly still being German, but by and large he gets away with it, using it as a scalpel with which to dissect the British (mainly English) sense of cultural identity while maintaining an observer's scientific detachment. Inevitably he talks about the war (in an hilariously original section about the relative roles of children in the British and German war effort) and about the efficiency of building projects, but his constant smirking question – 'you recognise yourselves?' – is almost always met with embarrassed assent, even when he is gleefully embarking on a deadpan tour of the most exaggerated national stereotypes.Not all the material is a hit with the crowd, but none of it fails because of any language or humour barrier, except occasionally deliberately, as in the bizarre but brilliant section where Wehn attempts some whimsy about counting sheep and then decries it as completely antithetical to his personality. There are moments, however, which are too near the bone – one routine about a recently deceased British serviceman isn't really in the best of taste, or good enough to justify its insensitivity - a few similar items gambled with the crowd's goodwill. But he mostly emerges smiling, having got away with some savage critique from his privileged birds-eye perspective. And as might be expected, his timing is impeccable.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

Life as German comedy ambassador to the United Kingdom is a right old struggle. Henning will tell you all about it. Come along or else! 'The Werner Herzog of comedy' (Stewart Lee); 'Absolutely brilliant' (Scotsman).