Bernhard-Viktor Christoph-Carl von Bülow (12 November 1923 – 22 August 2011), known as Vicco von Bülow or Loriot, was a German humorist, caricaturist, director and actor. His importance for the German Humour could be compared to Rowan Atkinson's or Monty Python's for the British.
Born in Brandenburg on the Havel in 1923 into a noble family originally from Mecklenburg which produced numerous officers (he himself was a lieutenant in a Panzer division during World War II), public servants and Bernhard von Bülow, one of Wilhelm II's chancellors. Already in his high-school days he began to work on stage. After 1945 he at first worked as a lumberjack before starting to study art. He first came to public attention as a cartoonist, and from 1967 he began to appear on television.
Though he has directed and starred in two movies (Ödipussy in 1988 and Pappa ante Portas in 1991), Loriot is better known for his little sketches - mainly parodying the German everyday life - and his potato-nosed cartoon characters, who seldom change their dull expressions.
And if we say "Germany", we mean The Bonn Republic, at least to begin with. He also became quite popular in the parts of the GDR where you could receive West German TV. After Reunification Pappa ante Portas was filmed in the Babelsberg studios in Potsdam and in Ahlbeck on the island of Usedom (on the German-Polish border).
He passed away on 22 August 2011.
Loriot's work provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: Herr Oldenberg from a TV discussion (in-sketch). The other talking heads manage to get his name wrong each time, and never call him by the same wrong name twice. At one point, he's so confused he forgets his own name.
- Ambiguous Gender: In "Weihnachten bei Hoppenstedts" / "Christmas at the Hoppenstedt's", the gender of "Dicki" Hoppenstedt is purposefully left in the dark (the actor was a girl, though).
- Anti-Christmas Song:
- The poem "Advent", which tells us the grisly tale of a forester being murdered by his wife on St Nicholas' Day.
- And then there is the very short "Christmas" poem by Dicki Hoppenstedt:"Zicke, zacke, Hühnerkacke!" ("Zip, zap, chicken crap!")
- Art Shift: Some of the sketches of his TV show were in live action, others animated in his drawing style.
- Bathtub Bonding: The animated sketch "Die Herren im Bad" ("The Gentlemen in the Bathtub"). The conversation between Dr. Klöbner and Mr. Müller-Lüdenscheidt, while relatively well-mannered, is more bickering rather than bonding, though.
- Binomium ridiculus: Petrophagia lorioti, the common stone louse. Totally made up by him, but made it even into the Pschyrembel, the German medicine handbook.
- Blatant Lies: In the sketch "Der Kunstpfeifer" (lit.: The Whistler), the interviewed whistler claims to have had his first public show at a cattle auction in 1954. Right thereafter he claims to have performed as well at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and the very first Bundestag session, both which took place well before that. Justified since this whistler is exposed as a fraud later during the inverview.
- Boléro Effect: The background music in the "Das Bild hängt schief" ("The picture is crooked") sketch.
- Catchphrase: Ach?! or Ach was?! (Oh, really?)
- Comically Missing the Point: Regularly.
Vendor: What is the name of the child?Opa Hoppenstedt: Hoppenstedt! We're all called Hoppenstedt!
- In "Weihnachten bei Hoppenstedts", when the vendor of a toy store tries to determine the gender (see above) of Opa Hoppenstedt's grandchild:
Salesman (after having presented several wines): How does this wine taste?Mrs. Hoppenstedt (uncertain): Just like the first one...Salesman (cheerful): Wrong, like the second one. That's quality: One exactly like the other...
- Later on, when Mrs. Hoppenstedt is visited by a winery salesman, who has a selection of wines to offer:
- The Comically Serious: Loriot in most of his roles is a pretty good example, though one could argue that this also applies to his co-actors. Without the seriousness their characters display in almost everything they do, it wouldn't be as much fun to watch them.
- Cringe Comedy: Pretty much the source for every single joke in all of his works. Though in a light hearted way.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Disaster Dominoes: The sketch "Das Schiefe Bild" ("The Askew Picture") starts with Loriot trying to straighten a picture hanging askew, and ends in the destruction of every item of furniture in the room.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: At age 17 Loriot appeared as an extra in the 1940 biopic Friedrich Schiller — Der Triumph eines Genies. He later had a small, speaking but uncredited, role as a German staff officer in in The Longest Day. Before the latter he also had small parts in two other films directed by Bernhard Wicki, the anti-war movie The Bridge (1959) and Das Wunder des Malachias (1961).
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Parodied — in the sketch "Filmspektrum - Besprechung eines Heiteren Films" ("Film Panoply - Review of a Merry Movie"), two film critics get into a heated argument about a silent movie slapstick clip that is just 4 seconds long.note One of them sees the "movie" as one of the greatest examples of cinematography and artistic quality, while the other one regards it as a socialist allegory about the population revolting against the exploitation by the ruling class.
- German Humour
- Mad Doctor/Mad Scientist: Appears in one sketch. Has invented a medicine that shrinks people down to 0.002 millimeters. He suggests using it to fight overpopulation - but for a start, only with volunteers.
- Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: A common topic, at one point coining the quote: "Männer und Frauen passen einfach nicht zueinander!" (Men and women simply don't fit together!)
- Meaningful Name: "Loriot" is the French name for the oriole. An oriole is in the crest of the Bülow family's coat of arms', and in fact "Vogel Bülow" ("Bird Bülow", imitating its call in German) is an old name for oriole.
- Mood Dissonance: Basically the underlying concept for most of his later works. The speech of the characters is almost never appropriate to the situation. But especially prominent in the "Christmas Poem", in which a kind elderly gentleman recites a Christmas poem that sickeningly sweet, but tells a lurid story about murder and cannibalism.
- My Little Panzer: In his classic sketch "Weihnachten bei Hoppenstedts" ("Christmas at the Hoppenstedt's"), Grandfather Hoppenstedt buys for his grandchildnote a model nuclear power plant. It makes "poof!" if you did a mistake while assembling it.
- Naked People Are Funny: The animated sketch "Die Herren im Bad" ("The Gentlemen in the Bathtub").
- Not a Mask: Would you remove the mask for us? - Which mask?
- One Scene, Two Monologues: When they have to kill some time before the real interview can start, because of technical difficulties.Interviewer: My wife is a Capricorn.Professor: I own a longhaired dachshund.
- Pen Name: It's French for oriole. (A specific kind of bird, part of his family's coat of arms.)
- Popcultural Osmosis Failure: In Pappa ante portas.Heinrich Lohse: Whom do you admire? Who do you think is swell?Dieter Lohse: Michael Jackson.Heinrich Lohse: Michael Jackson... [thinks] He was boxing world champion in cruiser weight, but then Eddie Ahlersmeier beat him clearly on points... [hesitates] That was in 1952. [smiles] Strange enough, I always remember these things. [after a short break] I am just wondering, how does a retired boxer make a living?Dieter Lohse: Michael Jackson will give a concert next Wednesday at the Congressional Hall.Heinrich Lohse: Oh really?
- Porky Pig Pronunciation:
- A newsreader in her attempt to summarize the first part of a British mini series - which hasn't much of a plot, but makes up for it with long and complicated names - gets tangled up in the difference between German and British pronunciation. Schlipth.
- Adding insult to injury resp. "o" to "th" she also has a problem with the vowels: "North Cothelstone Hall" (obstinately spoken with five long o's where short o, short a (?), schwa, ou, long o would be expected).
- Production Posse: Actress Evelyn Hamann was the female lead in virtually all of Loriot's films and sketches, one of Loriot's best friends and favoured acting partner.
- Romance-Inducing Smudge: Averted in a famous sketch in which Loriot tries to declare his love to a woman in an Italian restaurant, but happens to have a piece of noodle in his face. When she points it out, he removes it, but the next time he uses the napkin, the noodle returns to his face. Hilarity Ensues as the noodle moves around. No, he doesn't get the girl.
- Surreal Humour: Quite a few times.
- There's an interview which turns into an argument about who is able to hold his breath for a longer time. The head of one person then turns red and starts to swell like a balloon.
- There's an inventor who has devised a method of turning people into rabbits, starting with his wife.
- In another sketch, the director of an arms factory explains himself about the factory's decision to produce marzipan potatoes instead of tanks.
- Telephone Teleport: This cartoon◊. (The original which we can't find had the caption: "One can't condemn Herr Meier for using the telephone very rarely after this incident.")
- Thoroughly Mistaken Identity:
- In Pappa ante portas.Heinrich Lohse: Hey, my honey? Come on, put your glasses on, it's me, Heinrich, Heinrich Lohse. I see, you got a little extra weight, but it looks good on you. Is your husband here too?Käthe "Lisbeth Prenzler": I'm not married.Heinrich Lohse: Sure you are. We have visited you in Hamburg back then.Käthe "Lisbeth Prenzler": I live in Würzburg, for 36 years.Heinrich Lohse: No, your son had studied in Hamburg and lived with you.Käthe "Lisbeth Prenzler": I don't have a son.Heinrich Lohse: Sure, you have. Lisbeth!Käthe "Lisbeth Prenzler": My name is Käthe.Heinrich Lohse: Oh. [leaves the table] Käthe!
- Another one in a TV sketch:Interviewer (thinks he’s talking to an astronaut): What is the greatest distance from the Earth you have ever worked at?Interviewee (actually a low-level bureaucrat): We are now working on the fourth floor.Interviewer: And were you ever afraid that you might not come back from up there?Interviewee: No.
- In Pappa ante portas.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Brought up as a defense by the titular character in "Der Kunstpfeifer". When being criticized for his amateurish performance at whistling, he accuses the interviewer of being generally incapable of judging arts and successively claims that modern compositions require "spiritual involvement" by the listener, that contemporary music is a matter of habit and that in spite of his actual performance his general "artistic concept" would still hold up.