It’s a good show that makes you laugh even before it started.
No extensive research into Paco Erhard’s biography is needed to guess the origin of his act: one look at the show title would give you all the hints you need. However, when you arrive at the venue you’ll be surprised to see that the flag used in a desperate attempt at decorating the construction site the show takes place at is not that of Germany. Can you guess which country it represents? Take a couple of minutes before you go to see this show and come up with a few suggestions – I can guarantee that discussions of this flag before the comedian arrives will result in some laughs. They surely set the mood right in our audience. Oh, and don’t be put off by the shabbiness of the venue; Paco makes good fun of it in his act.
When we were still waiting by the door of Space 6 at Cowgatehead, a tourist who looked like one of those people who start working on their Fringe spreadsheets long before the official programme is out started sharing his recommendations with us. Our expectations of the show skyrocketed when he mentioned having a pint with four anonymous comedians the night before who all agreed that Paco Erhard’s act was one of the two best free shows this year. It’s obviously not physically possible to watch every comedy show on the Fringe programme to make an informed decision for yourself, and I probably wouldn’t go even as far as to say that this was the best free act I’ve seen, but it definitely won’t be a waste of your evening.
Paco Erhard is an average looking guy in a black T-shirt with Disney logo where “-ney” has been replaced with “-obey”. Nothing in his appearance screams “Comedian!”, but he makes up for that with his chat and general attitude. The headline theme for his show was inspired by a real life story that also resulted in a joke that, judging by the reaction of the audience, could easily compete for the title of the best joke of the whole act. However, possibly contrary to justified expectations, the show is not too heavily focused around stereotypes about Germany: Paco Erhard touches upon a number of other nations as well as generic topics such as religion, travelling and politics.
If you never take a seat in the front row at comedy shows for fear of being picked on the whole time, “Worst. German. Ever.” is the right act for you. While Paco Erhard asks the audience as a whole a couple of questions mostly aimed at finding out where they come from, there wasn’t a single instance of humour targeted at a particular individual. The whole act seemed well prepared and rehearsed, and even in the few situations that could potentially allow for some spontaneity, such as people turning up late, the comedian served us jokes he’d clearly thought of in advance. But even then, Paco was a pleasure to watch – not only because his jokes were often accompanied by actions and voice imitations, but also because he seemed to really enjoy himself and was cracking himself up every now and then.
When Paco Erhard found out that most of the audience were not British and/or living in this country, he started worrying that many of his jokes wouldn’t be understood. That’s where I disagree with him completely: unlike the overwhelming majority of British comedy shows, this one is generic enough to be easy to laugh at no matter where you come from. The comedian does not use references to any TV shows, local celebrities or events specific to Germany (or any other country, for that matter). And when he does mention something that not everyone may have got a reference to, he always follows up with an explanatory joke that does not in any way take away from the original one. In short, I would definitely recommend this show to international audiences who were not growing up with British soup operas in the background.
The show went a little bit downhill closer to its end. Paco Erhard seemed to realise he’d gone through the first half too fast and so we were stuck with the same sketch that, although funny, was stretched out way too much, as well as too detailed an explanation of how the comedian wanted to be paid by his audience. But all in all I would still recommend this show. You won’t be laughing your head off the whole time, many sections of the show are amusing or entertaining rather than laughing-outloud-funny, but when Paco Erhard gets it right he gets it really right.
About the Guest Reviewer
Maria Polyakova lives in Edinburgh and works in Digital Marketing. She loves theatre, folk dancing, short story writing, and discovering foreign languages and cultures. She can be followed on Twitter at @Melorwen.
Tickets were provided to enable this review.