At the turn of the year we spoke to self –styled ‘German Comedy Ambassador to the UK’, Henning Wehn about everything from the British, currywurst and his now uncannily accurate football predictions. Henning has carved a career from navigating national identity. Playing up to and picking holes in perceived British stereotypes of Germany, Henning has recently appeared on a range of panel shows including QI, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, The Matt Lucas Awards and most recently 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.
Guten Tag Henning! How was your 2012?
No complaints, it was good. I’ve done a load of work on the radio, on the tele and loads of live work. Also, Hell's fire hasn't struck me down once!
In the UK we tend to stereotype German cuisine as bland, is that unfair?
I wouldn't say the food is bland. I think it’s very tasty but it doesn't necessarily have those extreme tastes. It doesn't have the extreme sweetness of say Turkish dessert and it doesn't have the extreme spiciness of some Indian dishes. But German food is far from bland.
So are you personally into spicy food or curries then?
I have really grown to like spicy food since I've been in the UK. Indian food took me a while to get used to it but now I really like it, although if you gave me the name of the dish I would have absolutely no idea if it was incredibly hot or not. I like it rather mild. I like one with almonds, is it a korma? Also, I know not to order a jalfrezi as that’s quite hot. But that’s about all I know.
How do you feel about currywurst?
Currywurst? It’s brilliant. I’m from the Ruhr Valley and we practically invented currywurst there so I absolutely love it.
You’ve lived in the UK since 2002, have you noticed any changes in yourself or you culinary tastes in that time?
Well at first I was absolutely intrigued by the concept of the full English breakfast, but thankfully I’m not anymore.
You claim to be the ‘German Comedy Ambassador to Great Britain’ what are the differences between German and British people?
We Germans laugh when the work is done, and the Brits laugh instead of doing any work! There’s an idea that Britain aren't competitive and are just incredibly lazy. But the way they eat curry disproves that whole point. There is competitiveness but it focuses on the wrong thing, on who can eat the hottest curry. And the whole obsession with the Scoville scale and now you can eat it up to a thousand Scovilles? You can only eat it when you wear goggles and gloves. That’s not food. Only explosives should be handled that way!
So what can the British learn from the German people?
There’s a lot the British can learn. For one, it’s okay to pay tax!
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Probably just don’t have a heart attack, same as last year!
Finally, the most important question as you’ve been on Radio 5 Live and I know you’re really into your football: The German Bundesliga or the English Premiership?
Well I find the Bundesliga more exciting to watch but they don’t really challenge in Europe. The Premier league is usually the opposite, but strangely it seems to be quite different this season!
To watch Henning in action pick up his new live DVD - 'No Surrender' available from 14th October.