Peter Craven talks to Eckart von Hirschhausen about the healing power of humor, expressions of love, and the human liver...
He's become one of Germany's top comedians, a medical doctor with incisive, surgical wit who created a whole new brand of German humor, blending cabaret with medical themes. His books on health and happiness are major bestsellers. There's a saying in German that comedy often has its roots in tragedy: words used - tongue-in-cheek - by Eckart von Hirschhausen who's a direct descendent of a destitute family of Baltic-German nobles. So he opted for a safe career in medicine before switching his attention to the stage, more precisely to the world of German cabaret and stand-up comedy, and he now looks back on some 16 years of television and stage experience.
His recipe for success: find something to laugh about, and his goal: entertain and inform without patronizing the audience. His method: "group therapy," an expression he says he re-coined for his comedy style. He now ranks among the most successful of Germany's comedy elite, playing to sold-out houses.
He has also written a series of humorous books with practical tips about getting on in life, and staying healthy, selling a stunning 2 million copies and climbing to the top of Germany's bestseller charts.
In his free time, this flippant medical doctor - deemed the merriest medical man in Germany - often spends his spare time working for the "Red Noses" project, volunteer clowns cheering up children in hospitals. He says he does the work gladly because making these young patents laugh also fills his heart with happiness.
(First broadcast 18 October 2009)