Ain't nothing right
"My great specialty: I can't do anything right"
SZ-Magazin: Mr. Raab, the German humor ...
Stefan Raab: What do you have there?
No, the other one.
A microphone that you put on your iPod.
How? Where do you get that? I want that too! I still have that old voice recorder in my pocket. Here.
What do you have that for?
I speak my ideas for a song or a gag on it. Only at some point do you hear the ideas of six months that I can no longer tell apart.
What was the last idea you spoke on your voice recorder?
I don't even know anymore. As I said, I don't listen to it that often. Ask me if I work with your device.
Come! An idea from Stefan Raab's dictaphone that the world does not yet know.
2004 in Istanbul after the Grand Prix. We only made eighth place with Max Mutzke. The mood was pretty in the basement. We sat on the bus and drove away from the place of our shame. I thought I had to come up with a funny idea right away. The next Grand Prix would take place in Kiev. So I said: We're going to send the two Klitschkos to Kiev. They have to sing: "Boom, boom, boom, I'll knock you out." Funny idea.
But then you have not found it on your dictation machine.
Plus, the second idea was even better.
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We'd rather have a serious counter-event to the Grand Prix, which couldn't be saved anyway. We're doing the Bundesvision Song Contest.
They say: meant seriously. The Bundesvision Song Contest sounded like a parody of the Grand Prix at first.
Exactly! But it is not. That's the trick. Also Stefan is looking for the Super Grand Prix star, our little casting show, from which Max emerged - at first it seemed like a parody. But the opposite was true. The joke was that you exaggerate it in the other direction: not make it worse - as you would normally do in comedy - but the other way around, namely better. As a pastiche, that would only have been funny to a limited extent.
How would you make the Bundesvision Contest as a classic satirical? One would probably create a music act for each federal state that exaggerates the clichés of the country and still looks as crazy as possible. The East Frisian comes with wooden shoes, has sail ears, fish on the right and left and sings something that sounds similar to At the North Sea coast. And the Bavarian comes with a cleaver and a chamois-beard hat ... Notice what?
It's not that funny at all.
Exactly! That is drowning. But that would have been done a few years ago. Suddenly you realize that it only becomes really exciting, high-quality and interesting if you do it seriously.
This shows a general development in German humor. In the seventies and eighties, German humor meant: funny glasses, crazy wigs, protruding teeth. Klaus and Klaus! At the North Sea coast. I say yes. There we have the glasses, we have strange physiognomies, one big, the other small. In the nineties this kind of humor was replaced by people like Helge Schneider, Harald Schmidt and you, much more ambivalent characters. There are now more young German comedians than ever before.
Yes. I think that's good. You can be proud of that. We are now keeping up well with the US comedians. Their level is no higher than ours. The talk of some clever guys that Letterman and Leno are funnier than Schmidt is nonsense. You have to translate that one to one, then you notice that they only cook with water. Also Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy.
Have you ever figured out how being funny works best for you?
My great specialty: I can do a little bit of everything. Nothing right. I'm not a big stand-up comedian. Sure, I can make people laugh for five minutes at a time. But not for an hour like Michael Mittermeier or Mario Barth. They are specialists there. I can do a program in which I tell funny things, then make a little music, but also get serious sometimes.
How do you decide what to do seriously and what not? For example, you are not interested in being with your studio guests TV total to have a serious conversation.
I prefer the atmospheric conversation. The content does not go in depth, but gives the viewer the chance to find out what kind of person it is sitting there: is he trying to be convulsively funny? Is he trying to keep up with my pace and can't? Is he quick-witted?
The rapper Eminem used these atmospheric conversations with you to call out "Freifick" and "Muschi" over and over again in German.
He does that every time he comes. So, his creativity is also limited.
Don't you prepare any questions?
Ten minutes before the broadcast, one of my authors comes and reads me the guest's most important career points. But then I'm mostly half asleep. If I'm lucky, I remember something.
In the record industry, however, it is agreed that a visit to your show will increase record sales more massively than an appearance on any other show in Europe.
We obviously have the audience who are interested in music. Even if Bet that ..? has the higher ratings: It's no use trying to sell new, hip sneakers in a nursing home.
You are the godfather of the music business.
Stay on the carpet. I'm sure: if I don't do this tomorrow, no cock will cough for it.
But you've been doing it for twelve years.
God. That always sounds! Recently I even had to give a double interview with Gottschalk. Meeting of the veterans of German television entertainment.
Back then, you helped invent guerrilla comedy at the 1994 World Cup: going somewhere, holding your camera, joking about other people.
Yes. It was really guerrilla, unimaginable today. We went to the World Cup for Viva without money, without accreditation and without being able to do much. Luckily we met Beckenbauer. He thought we were funny. Also that we each always Böörti Vogts let sing.
Did he think that was funny?
Everyone thought that was funny! In the press center, topic was number one. Once I was sitting at the table with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and said: Listen, I still need tickets for the opening game. Rummenigge sold me two. Sold, mind you!
That guerrilla thing was new then. Today it appears in every second broadcast.
A lot is being done now, but basically it no longer works. I wasn't under any pressure. There were no quotas that could be achieved. Not even measurements! The fan mail was used to decide which show was the most successful.
Your audience numbers are bad right now. Are you worried?
If nobody wants to see me anymore, I'll stop. And I mean that as calmly as I say.
And they don't believe you.
But that's how it is. Maybe that's because of the course of my career. I think most of those who are on television, including my colleague Schmidt, absolutely wanted to go there, they never wanted anything else. They were already looking for attention at the age of 15 and got involved in theater groups.
What did you want when you were 15?
I dont remember. Make music maybe.
Did you play in a band?
Yes, I played drums and sang in a rockabilly band when I was twelve. The line-up was drums, guitar and saxophone. No bass. There was nobody in our class and not in the parallel class who could play bass.
What was the name of the band?
We had different names.
The dumbest, please!
I really wanted an English name because I expected to have an international career. But we were only in the sixth grade and unfortunately I had started with Latin in the fifth and therefore had no idea of English. But the guitarist had an aquarium at home. There were fish in it, they were called Black Mollies. We thought: That sounds like a great band name.
You later played in a Christian heavy metal band.
No. Sacro-Pop. Sacred pop music. Together with Till Brönner. We played Kirchentag songs Lord your love and so, arranged in a funky-soulful way.
Do you have a Christian background?
I was raised in a Jesuit boarding school. I am certainly not a pagan.
Are you a believer?
What does believing mean? You have to be careful. If you tell something like that in interviews, you will be lumped together with Xavier Naidoo.
Do you believe in God?
Let's put it this way: I analyze sharply. I am a philosopher and not averse to Christian teaching.
If you call a mother a dealer with a school bag in her arms and are sentenced to a fine like last week - is that just a nuisance for you or do you also judge it morally?
Surely you have to look at it morally. And that's what counts: My intentions are pure. I definitely don't want to hurt anyone. I only comment on what was on TV anyway, so I'm joking about people who have voluntarily exposed themselves. If someone still feels attacked, it usually only takes a call here in the editorial office. We'll stop immediately. Of course, this does not apply if Oliver Kahn is doing anything. As a public person, he has to expect that he will get overdone.
Could one go so far that your malice towards some public figures even has a pedagogical dimension? That you want to punish Chiara Ohoven, for example, for her hollowness?
Hate or contempt doesn't matter in anything I do. I either have good relationships with people or none at all. Sure, Chiara Ohoven is a very strange person who has a very strange style. I think that's newsworthy. But it doesn't hurt anyone. I just don't want to swap places with her. There are many poor madmen walking around. Let them! But the moment that person does that publicly, they run the risk of me commenting on it.
The accusation against you is that you interfere in the lives of others, but foreclose your own. What would it matter if people knew you had a girlfriend and child?
Difficult to explain. I find it a kind of protection that not everyone knows everything about me. I also don't want to go to parties and hold on to a champagne glass. I would be uncomfortable. I want to avoid other people thinking of me what I think of them.
What are you doing instead?
I go jogging, roller-skating, swimming.
Sometimes in a bad mood?
Yes. I sleep then. I also always sleep 15 to 20 minutes before the show while wearing the mask. In this, shall we say, time window, everything relaxes, all the stress goes away. Sometimes they have to shake me up.
You are supposed to earn a lot of money astronomically. More than anyone else.
Who says that? How much?
500,000 a month.
Really? If I were Dieter Bohlen, I would say: I would have to limit myself a lot.
What are you doing with all that money?
Of course, I cannot confirm any sums here. I only say so much ...
You recently bought two houses.
I read that too.
You live there with your girlfriend and son.
Write what you want. The more diffuse the picture, the more I prefer it. I am always grateful for any distortion of the truth about myself.
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