Laugh out !

Explorations in Radio Documentary and Humour
Quotes from a presentation delivered at MARKET PLACE OF IDEAS / PRIX EUROPE BERLIN / 1997

...There isn’t much more to say about the tyranny of infantility we are facing today in the media; about the „vulgarity, stupidity of private programmes“, plainly playing for laughs; treating grown ups like children -- worse: like childish grown ups.

Radio documentaries are different. They are dry, dull and deadly serious, desperately lacking of humour. Programme slots, reserved for blood, sweat and tears. In our repertory humour is a rare species, shy, hidden. You must be a good and patient hunter to catch it. If we talk about private and public programmes it’s the choice between the ridiculous and the grim.

Human beings feel an urgent need, a desire for „laughing out“ once in a while. If they would prefer a novemberish, freezy , grumpy ... a really bad mood, you can be sure: MTV would offer to us a programme of extreme dullness. Those who take the needs and desires of media-customers seriously (or who are able to create those desires - what in our world of mass-media is about the same) -- those are the winners in the popularity rating game. And the public will listen to them more likely than to those who don’t care.

Famous authors have shown us over and over again, that dealing with a „big“, world-shattering topic doesn’t mean to forget about the amusing side of it. To say it with a laugh... And you can laugh almost about everything. I’m just thinking of George Tabori, the great contemporary writer and theatre man, who often looks upon the Jewish tragedy with harsh sarcasm or warm melancholic humour. I’m also thinking of funeral meals I attended. I remember the wake for a