An honest* History of Bullshit (Stage 8, Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre)
By Marc Horton
In German there are any number of ways to say “bullshit.”
Paco Erhard, a Berlin comic making his second welcome stop at the Fringe, probably knows them all. There’s “Schwachsinn,” “Blodsinn,” with an umlaut over the “o,” and “Quatsch.”
“To bullshit,” an intransitive verb — but you knew that already, didn’t you?— is “veraschen,” and “a load of bullshit,” is “volliger Quatsch,” again with that pesky umlaut over the “o” in volliger.
Alas, I could find no translation for “bullshitter”although a pal whose knowledge of German is vastly better than mine said that “Dreckschwatzer,” might suffice, although he was also pretty sure it was regarded as vulgar and decidedly impolite.
I sincerely hope that Erhard, a genuinely funny guy, doesn’t take this the wrong way, but he is a Dreckschwatzer of the first rank. His 75-minute An honest* History of Bullshit is full of digressions, diversions, observations and the kind of self-deprecating humour that softens what sometimes might seem just a tad harsh. Pedophile priests, for example, come in for some richly deserved condemnation and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church gets a drive-by drubbing as well, which is all well and good.
And while this really isn’t a history of bullshit, it is really funny with just a little history, all of it complete fiction, I suspect, thrown in.
Erhard makes much of his Germanness – “Yes, I am German, but I have other problems, too,” – that drew laughs and applause at a near sellout mid-afternoon show.
He also touched on local issues. Calgary, for example, is “where they think libraries are made to be looked at from the outside.” It was also where he first learned irony, he said. “It’s where you take millions from the firefighters and give it to the Flames,” a quip that works only in cities held hostage by hockey teams.
Many, many things are skewered by Erhard’s wit. The list includes recycling, Americans, Trump of course, IKEA, the German army, consumerism, religion, racism, nationalism, lefties, righties, liberals, conservatives, Brexiteers, etc., etc.
It’s great fun.
— Marc Horton retired after a four-decade career as a journalist with the Edmonton Journal where he covered cops, courts, city hall, environmental issues, education, indigenous affairs, politics, hockey, football, movies, books and women’s fashion. Only one thing on that list is Quatsch.