Status: 08/12/2022 3:11 PM
Matthias Broadway has been an institution in the North German cabaret and diversified scene for decades. It does not matter to him whether he is called a cabaret entertainer, comedian, comedian, writer, manager or entertainer. Somehow everything applies to him.
Matthias Broadway is above all an original theatrical and musical person. The legendary cabaret artist Hans Dieter Hoch recognized his talent early on and explicitly advised Matthias Broadway to pursue a professional career at a young age. Thus, to date, ten solo programs have appeared, as well as various projects with other artists. He also writes books, does volunteer work for seriously ill people, and co-edits a street magazine. At NDR Kultur, Matthias Brodowy presents a singular program of entertaining and thought-provoking texts–some sung, some read.
This eternal question: what is a cabaret and what is a comedy? You also call yourself a comedian. Are you always all at the same time? Have a number that you say is funny now, then something thoughtful immediately comes up. Or is one always everything?
Matthew Broadway: I try to be all in because I don’t like these slots very much. I do nightclub work because I have a certain literary claim. I do comedy because I want to be ruthlessly silly for once. I also make music and write. At the moment I am writing a book for my new program “Klappstuhl und ich”, which we hope will be published next year. This means that I try to work a little more literary in general. The whole package, if translated into English, would be called entertainment. This is actually what I want. I want people to feel entertained. Then comes this famous phrase: “Cabaret is entertainment, but with attitude.” I also want people to go out and have a nice evening and at the same time take something with them and maybe after three or four or five days they say again in a newspaper article: That’s right, he talked about it, I thought about it too. I think this is the first chapter.
You wrote a nice sentence about it on your homepage: “Theatre has always known alternative truths, though cabaret has always sought the truth.” Is this disclosure and drawing attention to grievances always a part of it?
Broadway: not always. But I think cabaret serves to discover reality, including satire on reality, for example. We live in times when reality trumps satire time and time again. There are many things that can no longer be exaggerated. However, cabaret is sometimes more real than reality. This is so absurd.
Can you give me an example from current news events?
Broadway: From the current news, I think the best example for me is Donald Trump. The fact that a billionaire involved in thousands of affairs could easily become President of the United States and just say, “I don’t recognize the election.” And he has a large number of followers! This is something I don’t understand. In today’s world, it’s not about opinions at all, it’s simply about a person. Or Boris Johnson, who turned back the Enlightenment without regard for the losses, without even thinking about democracies: it scares me. Of course, this is not funny at all, and it is also very difficult to make fun of him. But perhaps in order to rediscover how valuable democracy is, to realize once again that people have fought for it for centuries, expecting that they will lose their freedom, they have lost it, they are killed because they fought for freedom. This is a great value. And this is the moment when you have to be careful not to become a preacher.
I think the mission of the cabaret is to always stand on the ground of humanism and the Enlightenment and simply remind us: We are in fact living in a very precious time because we have freedom. When people say things were better in the past, I would say which one was in the past? 80 years ago, 150 years ago, a thousand years ago, to what time do you want to go back? If I think back over the years, I’m sure a lot of people would say, “No, it’s okay today.” That is why it is also important to defend this present.
If you think about the 30 years that you’ve been doing it now, has that changed over time what people laugh about or how do you capture them?
Broadway: Yes, massive. For example, I find it very important that people think about it a lot these days: Can I do something, or can I not do something? Am I stepping on someone’s toes right now? In the past, the case of cabaret was to step on someone’s tie. Today, in such an outrageous society, you get a dirty storm if you step on someone’s toe for sarcastic reasons. Some people have lost their sense of humor. I think we live in very difficult times. We live in humorless times. I wish we had more composure.
I always think it’s important to be respectful, so as not to lose respect on stage. On the other hand, it is necessary to exaggerate the cabaret. In the words of Tucholsky and his famous line: “Satire is allowed to do anything.” he said that. However, I know that there is a mission behind it. I am allowed to do anything as long as I associate it with an attitude. I’m not allowed to do something just for the big line, I’m not allowed to do something just to make a quote, but I do have the right, if I have a deep core I want to drive it to, to exaggerate in such a way that I can give someone a step on a tie.
Conversation led Jan Weidmann.
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