Henning Wehn – Edinburgh Fringe Festival – live review

Henning Wehn: Henning Knows Bestest
Just the Tonic at The Caves, Edinburgh
21 August 2012

Willow Colios is at the last week of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival for us. He caught German comic Henning Wehn’s act at Just the Tonic.

Henning Wehn begins by sticking to one of the first rules of German comedy ”“ always starting with your Wurst joke (geddit) ”“ He almost isn’t joking as things are about to get so much funnier.

There are no sacred cows here in new show Henning Knows Bestest. The self styled German Comedy Ambassador is still using his German-in-England schtick that has worked so well for him over the past 10 years in Britain and taken him onto television as well as BBC Radio 4 and Radio 5 – where he was always the funniest guy in the room on the Colin Murray hosted sports/comedy show Fighting Talk.

This new show sees him break new ground and burrow deeper into the British psyche, cutting through the politics of our times so incisively whilst always being uproariously funny. There is no let up in this hour long performance where everything from British Hotels to the Queen to Jimmy Carr’s Tax Evasion come in for a hilarious hiding that is so on the money you could place him up there with today’s top UK political comics.

He juxtaposes the UK public’s reaction to the Carr scandal, John Smeaton getting an OBE (\’The man who punched an already burning terrorist in the face at Glasgow Airport in 2007′) and other tax (not to mention prison) dodgers Harry Redknapp and Ken Dodd. He does so with such skill, teasing out the truth of how the British People think and how the British Press manipulate us still. On the Carr tax affair in particular, Henning takes no prisoners. Jimmy Carr’s friends and colleagues Sean Locke and Sarah Millican get fingers pointed firmly in their direction as rehabilitators of the image of this undoubted tax-crook. These are no cheap gags here as Wehn takes suprising risks aiming clear and precise shots at his contemporaries, where he could easily subsist on much safer humour.

The London 2012 Olympics, charity shops and even the Leveson enquiry also get refracted through the prism of Henning Wehn’s comedy genius. Nobody observes a country or its people so acutely as an immigrant looking in with a different perspective. He teases these threads of our nation and pushes things to the edge on more than one occasion, receiving gasps followed by claps and cheers.

Anyone expecting a diet of WWII gags won’t be disappointed either, but even they are brought up to date with a commentary on the recent uproar over reenactment groups in Bury asking a local Jewish couple to pose as Holocaust victims.

Every line of Henning Knows Bestest is so well crafted, yet it seems like he is just in conversation with this sell out crowd. To close he toys with the audience, posing the idea that he is pained by always being labeled a \’German Comedian’; \’Why can’t I be a comedian that happens to come from Germany’. His faux malady is endearing like the rest of this show that is relevant, risk taking and a must see for any fans of our great political comics, Mark Thomas, Stuart Lee and Josie Long.


Henning Knows Bestest continues at Just The Tonic at The Caves until Sunday 26 August and then tours across the UK.

All words by Willow Colios. You can read more from Willow on LTW here and follow him on Twitter.

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