German comedian Jan Böhmermann celebrates debut on US late night TV | Digital Culture | DW | 26.04.2017
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Digital Culture

German comedian Jan Böhmermann celebrates debut on US late night TV

German comedian Jan Böhmermann appeared on US national TV, striking a chord with late night show host Seth Meyers. Böhmermann disclosed some of his personal experiences being sued by the Turkish president.

German comedian Jan Böhmermann celebrated his US television debut appearing as a guest on the "Late Night Show with Seth Meyers" on the NBC network. Böhmermann and Meyers spoke at great length about the divisive issue of German humor, with Böhmermann, 36, joking that humor was only legalized in Germany two years ago:

"Comedy, I think they made it legal. I think (it was) two years ago. (…) It was a referendum, they voted, I think, 51 to like 49 pro-comedy," Böhmermann joked in reference to the tight plebiscite votes held in Europe in recent month, including Brexit, Scottish independence and the referendum on the presidential system in Turkey.

"Still, irony confuses people. You know, say one thing but meaning another thing, it's still like illegal in Germany," Böhmermann continued, to which 43-year-old Meyers quipped: "It's presidential here (in the US)."

Meyers, Böhmermann… and Trump

Böhmermann, who also hosts a late-night TV show in Germany, "Neo Magazin Royale," appeared to get along well with his American counterpart. They also joked about US President Donald Trump's track record 100 days into his presidency.

Böhmermann took a good laugh when Meyers asked him about the German take on Donald Trump, saying that Trump could start a world war with his next tweet. Meyers, who for years was a regular on the "Saturday Night Live" comedy format, told Böhmermann, "Yes, that's true. Don't risk it."

The two also discussed the US president's faux-pas of failing to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel's hand on her recent trip to Washington, referencing one of Trump's more infamous quotes from before the time that he ran for office. "He did not even 'grab her' by the hand," Böhmermann remarked on the show before summing up his take on Trump:

"Germans prefer not to elect idiots. Not that I'm saying that your president is an idiot but he seems in a way. (…) I'll stop here."

Böhmermann's childhood dreams

"Today, I can fulfill (…) a childhood dream: I  wanted to say something like so rude on national American TV that they will bleep me out," Böhmermann confessed on the show before he went on to say "fuck" twice. The German comedian seemed to be visibly delighted about the fact that he had been bleeped.

Despite the prominent featuring of swear words, Böhmermann's performance on the US show was somewhat toned down compared to his usual antics seen on German TV, where he has become known for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his show broadcast by ZDF NEO.

Böhmermann had read a condescending poem on his show one year ago which implied that the Turkish leader was involved in intimate relations with goats, watched child pornography and hit young girls - among other things.

Interview with New York Times

Böhmermann's appearance on the "Late Night Show with Seth Meyers" came ahead of his much-anticipated return to German TV, as his show is just about the start a new season there. The program had been suspended after the fallout following the Erdogan affair, which almost saw the comedian indicted under Germany's outmoded and soon-to-be-revoked lese-majeste law.

Jan Böhmermann (picture alliance/dpa/S. Baumann/ZDF)

Jan Böhmermann received numerous awards in recent years despite the controversy surrounding his comments on Erdogan

Böhmermann said he filmed clips for his show on the streets of New York, and also gave an interview with the New York Times, where he spoke about US politics, saying that Trump was not fit to be president as "he can barely speak English."

But the comedian also opened up about his personal experience of becoming involved in the infamous political affair that made headline news in Germany, Turkey and around the world last year:

"It creeps you out, actually to be honest. It's not a good feeling to have a dictator like the Turkish president suing you. (...) It (was) tough for a couple of weeks, but since the criminal investigations were dropped and I'm only stuck with some civil lawsuits, it became more fun. Very expensive fun," said Böhmermann to New York Times journalist and editorial board member Carol Giacomo in an interview that was broadcast on Facebook Live.

He later summarized his views on comedy, explaining why there are no taboo subjects in his book: 

"If your intentions are clear and your motives are clear, you can make fun of anything."

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