Gerhard Polt turns 80: The saving power of humor

Gerhard Polt, cabaret artist, author, actor and one of the greats of the German cultural scene, celebrates his 80th birthday on May 7th. In Germany, Polt stands for satire, irony and humor like no other – and has done so for almost half a century. But he has never encountered humor personally, says the cabaret artist. “I don’t really know who he really is, but I always assume that he’ll be there when it happens,” he once said.

Gerhard Polt speaks fluent Swedish

He was born in Munich in 1942, in the middle of the Second World War. In order to escape the bombing raids, his mother moved with him to the countryside, to the Upper Bavarian pilgrimage town of Altötting. The father was a lawyer and was taken prisoner during the war. In 1951 the family moved back to Munich, where Gerhard Polt grew up on Amalienstrasse in the Maxvorstadt district.

After graduating from high school, he studied politics and history at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, then from 1962 to 1968 Scandinavian and Old Germanic in Gothenburg. Few people know that Polt speaks fluent Swedish and even performed in front of King Carl XVI on stage. Gustaf (76) performed.

Back in Munich, he worked as a teacher, translator and interpreter. Polt married in 1971, he is the father of a son and is now the grandfather of a granddaughter. Today he lives with his family at Schliersee and spends a lot of time at his house in Italy.

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Breakthrough with “Fast wia in real life”

Always a political person, Gerhard Polt criticized urban redevelopment measures on his residential street in Munich in the 1970s and made a radio play out of it (“As if the badger were in his den”). Soon he was also drawn to the stage: in 1975 with the cabaret program “Kleine Nachtrevue”. Productions such as “Diridari und Tschurangrati” and “Munich shines” followed in cooperation with the director Hanns-Christian Müller (73).

Polt also worked often and successfully with Dieter Hildebrandt (1927-2013), Otto Grünmandl (1924-2000) and Gisela Schneeberger (73). In 1979, the series “Fast wia im Echter Leben” was first broadcast on Bavarian television, in which he and Schneeberger acted out bizarre everyday situations. Movies like “Kehraus” and “Man speaks German” followed. He has been performing with the Well brothers (“Biermösl Blosn”) for over four decades and will be on tour again from May 2022.

Gerhard Polt’s numerous awards include the Bavarian Order of Merit, the Adolf Grimme Prize, the Bavarian Cabaret Prize, the Great Karl Valentin Prize, the German Film Prize, the Bavarian Television Prize and many more.

“Always the jug to the head”: His most legendary sayings

In his roles, Polt often embodies the staid, narrow-minded citizen who is quite sure of his cause and unashamedly says what he thinks. He looks for realistic material, observes people in pubs, in politics and on the street, collects clichés and then holds up a mirror to the audience: German philistinism, intolerance and prejudice, envy and resentment.

“Who is we? At least it’s not me! We’re always the others!”, “We don’t have any opinions, but we’re allowed to express them freely anywhere”, “Without money, poverty would be unthinkable”, “We hamma this year made such a trip around the world, but I’ll tell you right away how it is, you never go there”, “The idea of ​​free beer in Bavaria is deeply religious”, “Always the jug to the head, never the head to the jug” – sentences like these have practically already become part of everyday language use. Polt’s latest coup is “Die Vroni aus Kawasaki”: With colleagues he dubbed a Japanese soap in Bavarian.

His big wish for his 80th birthday remains unfulfilled

Even if, according to his own statement, he has never encountered humor, he never tires of formulating it: Humor gives the chance to gain insight, to the “Oh ha!” moment, in which one can change perspectives and look at things anew. Life without humor is almost unbearable, and humor can bring comfort even in the darkest of times. And you need humor when you’re powerless, so you can free yourself. Democracy is inconceivable without humour, humor makes one immune to radicalism.

It is particularly unfortunate that the city of Munich did not fulfill one of his great wishes for his 80th birthday: the construction of a house for humor in Munich. Polt has wanted to live in the listed former cattle market bank in the Munich slaughterhouse for several years with the association Forum Humor and Komische Kunst establish an institution that is unique in Germany and Europe, which would give a home to all facets and protagonists of humor – cartoonists, cabaret artists, filmmakers, actors and the next generation of humorists. But it’s dragging.

So, in the year of his 80th birthday, Gerhard Polt is still looking forward to the 2022 Humor Festival in Bernried on Lake Starnberg, where he will perform the Wellkuren in July. But first there will be celebrations – on May 7th in the Munich Kammerspiele, with many companions and audience.

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