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Accepted Paper:

“Wenn das der Führer wüsste!” − “If only the Führer knew!”: The Stubborn Light-heartedness in Berlin’s Anglophone Comedy Clubs  
Cassis Kilian (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt)

Paper short abstract:

Berlin’s anglophone comedy clubs are insightful for migration research beyond the ‘suffering subject’ because they provide a space that facilitates coping with challenges that result from arriving in the German capital: club owners, comedians and members of the audience come from all over the world.

Paper long abstract:

The largest anglophone comedy scene in a foreign-language country is in Berlin. Indians, Israeli, Palestinians, US citizens, Russians and Ukrainians laugh together in clubs whose programmatic impetus responds to the turn that world politics has taken with Trump, Putin, Brexit and other disruptive events. Insights from a participant observation in these clubs from 2017 to 2019 thwart the assumption that the reception of humour always reveals and even reinforces cultural differences.

“As-salāmu ʿalaikum” − Toby Arsalan, a host, always gets an immediate many-voiced “wa-alaikumu s-salām” in reply, and then states, “many Muslims in the show tonight”. However, a lot of comedians and members of the audience identify as Jews and/or Israeli. Arsalan has fun bringing them together: “They have so much in common; an important book and an important God”, moreover, circumcision could be a vantage point for a powerful ecumenical movement. “Scissors could be a brand! Rock, paper, scissors … You know the game?” Arsalan imitates the movement of scissors with his fingers and asks, “Couldn’t this be an appropriate response to the Nazi salute?”

Humour is not only in the punchlines, it is somehow in the air, and wraps up the new Berliners in a cosy atmosphere that is opposed to the separating centrifugal forces resulting from populist politics and fuelled by German neo-Nazism. Those who refer to themselves as expats stubbornly enjoy being in Berlin. The paper suggests an approach to “the multiplicity of lived experiences of migration in their fullness” by taking their light-heartedness seriously.

Panel P003c
Beyond the 'Suffering Subject' in Migration Research III
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -