Title: Henning Wehn’s Christmas Do
Venue: Leicester Square Theatre, London
Dates: Final performance on Sunday, 18 December
Out of five? 4
I make no apology for the heading. It won’t be the first – or last – time that it’s used in a review of Henning Wehn’s stand-up act but what makes it so appropriate is that it’s a stereotype. And that’s his stock in trade: it doesn’t matter what country he’s talking about, be it Australia, the States or Greece, they are all ridiculed equally. However, Henning devotes much of his time to the German stereotype, as created by the Brits – and, of course, us Brits! He spends less time on us because, as he’s quick to point out, the Germans don’t spend time worrying about us – we’re not important enough!
The self-styled German Comedy Ambassador to this country has come to the fore over the past few years, thanks to appearances on Radio Four’s The Unbelieveable Truth and BBC TV’s QI. His accent is still decidedly German, but it floats in and out of mockney, interspersed with the occasional “innit” for good measure. But there’s no doubting both his command of the language and his understanding of our humour – and to have built a career on performing stand-up in English in front of a British audience is genuinely impressive!
His Christmas Do at the Leicester Square Theatre wasn’t confined to stand-up. The audience was encouraged – sorry, obliged! – to sing seasonal German carols, in German, while accompanied by a “European technocrat” by the name of Gunter Braun, on keyboards. I think we made a decent job of it, although the presence of another German in the audience was decidedly helpful!
The comedy flowed thick and fast and I won’t spoil the gags by trying to recount them. But if you manage to go, his recollections of German bierfests in Scotland, and the obligatory oom-pah band playing at them, were glorious. Apparently, The Herr Flicks – who are, in fact, three Geordies – are well-known on the British oom-pah circuit (sadly, their fame has yet to spread to Google.) And he couldn’t let the afternoon pass without getting on to his favourite subject – how to save the Greek economy. According to Henning, it’s very simple. Instead of going to Greece for your holidays, go to Germany – because the people there pay their taxes and the government then gives it all to Greece!
There’s one more performance of the show to come, next Sunday, 18 December. According to theatre’s website, it’s sold out, but it might be worth calling the box office, just in case. And if you do go, you’ll be greeted by the man himself handing out crib sheets for the carols. How many shows have you been to where the star is also front of house? I couldn’t resist asking him if he had a doppelganger in Surrey as my opticians is called Henning and Henning (no word of a lie – both about the opticians and asking him!) He thought that was amazing and added “And I haven’t made a single penny of profit from it!”