Theatre and Film, Johnny Carson School of


Date of this Version



“Ersatz Comedy in the Third Reich,” Text and Presentation XXI (1999), 17-29.


The idea performing comedy, and performing a lot of comedy, during one the most systematic reigns of terror the world has ever known may at first blush seem somewhat degraded. The perception of most people, especially in the English-speaking world, is that “German comedy” in the first place is an oxymoron. The fact is, however, that 42,000 productions were staged between 1933 and 1944 in the Third Reich, and the majority of them were comedies. The most frequently performed were plays by the now forgotten likes of August Hinrichs, Maximilian Böttcher, and Fritz Peter Buch, Jochen Huth, and Charlotte Rissmann. Who were these playwrights?