Comdey free is open microphone in Delhi

"It's not about provocation, I want to dissolve the boundaries of thought"

Interview with Serdar Somuncu

Serdar Somuncu ist (born 1968 in Istanbul) is a German-Turkish actor, musician, director and writer. He studied music, acting and directing in Maastricht and Wuppertal. In 1996 he became known for his staged readings from "Mein Kampf", in which he played with German identity complexes and ironically exposed the illogic of many passages in the text. He discussed, among other things, with neo-Nazis who had stormed his stage. In 2000 a reading series followed with excerpts from Goebbels' Berlin "Sportpalastrede". In addition to roles in television productions, Somuncu was extremely successful with other programs and readings such as "Hitler Kebab" and "Bildlesen". He is currently touring in front of sold-out houses with his new program "The Hate Preacher" through the republic and publishes the latest world views every week on his video blog "Hate Night". In June 2009 his new book "Der Anti-Türke", a story of German-Turkish relations, will be published.

Identity & self-image

You are often referred to as a "German-Turkish comedian". How is your own self-image?

Somuncu: I can't really say exactly because I don't give myself a title every day. I don't care either. Sometimes I write, then I am an author, sometimes I remain silent, then I am an author too. I don't fit into the common thinking stereotypes. The most important fixed point, which I recognize as a red thread in my work, is my artistic self-image as a theater person, i.e. someone who communicates through language, through the staging of language or the exploration of language, especially the exploration of subtexts, and that touches a lot of others Areas

I'm definitely not a comedian, that's out of the question. Especially because now at the beginning of the new tour I notice how little I like that, this “laughing at the push of a button” and how difficult it is for me to meet the expectations of the audience, to have to make them laugh. I don't know whether I'm a cabaret artist either, because cabaret has become a term that has become very popular thanks to the nomenclature of the left-wing bourgeoisie. Comedy and cabaret, however, are elements that have to do with theater and so it is also part of my work to cover these facets.

In addition, and very few people know, I am a musician. I actually think in terms of notes when I speak. For me, language has a lot to do with rhythm, a lot with time and meter. Hence, to cut a long story short: artistically, I'm something between an actor and a musician.

I don't know what I am personally either, I feel the same way: I have a fixed point, that's where I come from, but from this fixed point there are many directions of development. Sometimes I'm very “Dutch” because I've lived in Holland for a long time, sometimes I'm very “German”, and sometimes, without ever having lived there, I'm very “Russian”. In any case, in classical music, I've always been more with Shostakovich than with Schumann.

So I find it very difficult to come up with specific definitions, I prefer to define myself as a whole or leave it to the recipient of my work to classify me. He can say I'm an artist, I'm an actor or whatever, I don't like to commit myself.

Could the concept of individual “diversity” describe the self-image you have described?

Somuncu: "Freedom" would rather describe my artistic self-image than the concept of diversity. Because nothing is more deadly for artistic freedom than restrictions, walls and prefabricated grids. These grids have always been a handicap for me. It bothers me that people make claims in many areas and say that something has to be like this in a certain way. Then my art also stops breathing, then it becomes inorganic.

Therefore, this great demand on my artistic freedom is more likely to be presented in diversity than if I concentrate on a specific point. Some people disagree. They say that if I focus on one specific point, it might have a stronger effect than if I scatter myself like that. But for me, the scattering of my energies is something that makes me very confident, secure and strong, because it also corresponds to the diversity of my impressions.

They play with great pleasure with the change between different ascribed identities, with “being German”, with “being Turkish”. What role does “being German” play for you? What does it mean to be “German”?

Somuncu: That is a difficult question. It would be nice to say that there are no differences. But there is certainly a difference between feeling “German” and feeling “Turkish”. But where this feeling begins and where it ends is usually very difficult to see.

You can only attach it to small things. For example, there is a place in my new program where I say “I don't know what I am, but I can make it clear to you that you are“ German ”. I just have to talk very briefly about Jews and their inner censor, who asks himself 'Are you allowed to do something like that?' is then the first thing you feel how “German” you actually are. ”Many people laugh, but I actually mean it very seriously.

There are many topics that come across quite differently in German than in Turkish. Nevertheless, I find it very superficial to draw a typology of the “typical German”. Because everyone feels it differently in the end. For me, the perception of “typically German” is very different from that for you. Ultimately, “German” is what surrounds me. And I am a foreign body in a very unusual world. I try to understand this world because I've lived here for a very long time and sometimes it even feels like my own world.

But I also often feel that it's not my own world. I then just as much enjoy feeling the differences. These are sometimes very banal things, such as things in Turkish that you come up with in your head because you don't pronounce them directly, like some kind of politeness rituals, while “German” in return, to reproduce it stereotypically, is something very direct and is rude at times. But sometimes I even prefer that.

Do you see yourself as a “mediator between cultures” or is the image of “in between” or the “bridge” fundamentally questionable?

Somuncu: I don't know if I see myself as a mediator. I also do not know whether it is my right to be a mediator. This is an attribution and ultimately also a compensation for an argument that everyone would have to lead with themselves. The German can also mediate between German and Turkish culture, for that he doesn't need my origins.

The mediator is often attributed to me, perhaps also because I can speak German well, better than other Turks who neglect the German language not only because they are not interested in it, but also because they lack a common perspective. Many Turks experience Germany from a very narrow, very “Turkish” perspective, even though they are actually very “German”. So you don't always tell from the language how people feel. Sometimes, although I can express myself well in German, I'm much more Turkish than these people. That may sound like a contradiction in terms.

Perhaps I am not entitled to the role of mediator because, frankly, I know too little about the “Turkish side” and cannot say exactly how it would have to feel to be believable. We Turks in Germany are first of all German-Turks and we are different from the Turkish-Turks. This has a lot to do with the fact that the Turks who live here have made Turkey a “Turkey of Memory”. The only thing they have left is their Turkish name and what their parents tell them about Turkey. But also their parents, the Turks of the first and second generation, live in a stylized, in a “remembrance Turkey”.

So I could only represent what Turkey really is very badly, at most I could represent what constitutes the ambivalence of a German-Turk. Sometimes I like to do that, but not "against someone" or "for someone", but regardless of where I come from, e.g. also against my own people. To be a mediator between the German and the Turkish demands is therefore perhaps easy, but it usually ends in catalogs of demands and adaptation strategies anyway. To act as a mediator between Germans and Germans or between Turks and Turks is much more difficult and reveals many more discrepancies.

And I really enjoy doing that, because I prefer to be where there are “joints”. A joint is an interface between two bones, but it is also something that can move. At first I approach people neutrally and not with regard to their nationality. At first I see them as people, perhaps with a different origin, a “migration background”, a terrible word, but also with a different “socialization background”. This plays a much bigger role for Turks in Germany than the fact that their parents emigrated at some point. Most of them were born here and have absolutely nothing to do with migration.

Does the provocation, which plays a major role in your art, also serve as shock therapy for opening up the front line between Germans and Turks, which is often talked about in the media or politically?

Somuncu: This is a question that I can't answer like that because I'm not deliberately provoking. I'm looking for. If you had asked Miles Davis if he wanted to provoke someone with his weird tone, he would have probably knocked his trumpet on your head. The point is not that I play weird notes to bother you, but rather that I play the notes because I no longer like the other notes, just as I don't say things to provoke them, but rather I say things in one voice The way I like it best. The fact that this provokes you has something to do with your listening habits, your viewing habits and your thinking habits.

My job as an artist is above all to change thought structures. That this is occasionally perceived as a provocation only shows how difficult it is still to change thought structures. Ultimately, all I do on stage is reflect. I'm nowhere near as bad as the television, but as soon as I start talking like the television, people are offended. Because I confront them with something, they perceive it as alienation. In the theater too, people often expect a very specific catalog of behavior: you speak nicely, you behave properly. Blurring all of this creates irritation, but is often confused with provocation.

This is common practice in other art movements, e.g. in the fine arts, concrete painting has long ceased to exist, abstract art is something completely normal for everyone. In the theater we have seen naked people on stage for 20 years and it's often the only thing that directors can think of to push boundaries. I'm trying to go other ways here, I'm trying to turn everyday life, television, vulgarity and the boulevard into a subject that reaches people, but I also swap it around to make it confusable. This is not a provocation for me.

Provocation is sometimes an approach to this changed thinking that I strive for, but if you now ask me whether I am aiming to provoke, I can only say no, because I don't know how to provoke it because I don't knows where your limits are. All in all, it's about differentiation, not universal answers. I prefer to ask questions.

What roles do migrants play in the media? Are these roles already given?

Somuncu: “Migrant” is also a very difficult word to define. Migrants are also, for example, Germans from Russia or Americans. The migrants we are talking about here are ultimately the Turks. And the Turk is something like the “prototype of the bad foreigner” at the moment, more than ever perhaps.

A few weeks ago we had a new study that was published in SPIEGEL. SPIEGEL writes without any figures that the Turks are the worst integrated group of migrants. Something is being asserted and in fact something is being worked towards. Namely a big prejudice industry. And it acts mainly in the media and in politics. There is just one Turkish commissioner at the crime scene, so that's worth reporting - if it weren't worth reporting, we'd be a lot further. Then we would be better integrated, not only the Turks into German society, but also the Germans into German society.

In many areas of the media, the Turks are just the criminals. With a lot of the stories I see on TV, I can only switch off very quickly. As soon as I see women in the headscarf or some mustachioed papa who is sitting at the living room table and has a prayer chain with him, I notice that a German has tried to write a screenplay about Turks. Here we are still a long way from real integration. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that one the Turks still likes to be stylized as a fictional figure, while the demands of the German population on the Turks living here have remained the same. Namely, they demand adaptation to an original “German model”. But this German model does not even exist. The Turk cannot be more German than the German dares to be German.

Therefore, this model would have to be defined first. From my point of view, this model would be multicultural. And no matter how many reactionary forces claim that there is no multicultural society in Germany, the German language alone is multicultural in its diversity of Alemannic, Bavarian, Celtic and Nordic influences. Germany has been a multicultural society for centuries. Anyone who ignores this fact does not know the German reality.

If we could start doing integration work from this point, if we could start to see that integration also means breaking away from its antiquated distorted images, i.e. not demanding integration at the same time and then preserving the model of a Germany, that was Germany before the Second World War, we should also ask questions that are more important than, for example, why the Turks living in Germany speak German so badly? Don't you speak Turkish badly? Doesn't it also have something to do with the fact that the Turks living in Germany got stuck in a space between finding their identity because for many years there was neither government support nor an invitation to integrate?

For years people were turned away, they were ghettoized and what emerged from it is what is now commonly referred to as a “parallel society”. An absurd word, which does not correspond to reality at all. The largest parallel society I know is on Mallorca and is called Ballermann.

Are there already positive role models of migrants in the media? In the US, for example, there is a discussion about whether actors like Will Smith made it possible to imagine a black president.

Somuncu: I think that's nonsense. Obama isn't a good president just because he's a black president, that would be positive racism. To be a good president, he must first be good politicians. It doesn't make him more believable that he has dark skin. Just as, for example, Cem Özdemir should also be measured by what politics he does as the Greens chairman and not by what he is and where he comes from. Tansu Ciller was President of Turkey 20 years ago, long before Angela Merkel became a woman chancellor here. But she wasn't a good president just because she was a woman.

Neither gender nor ethnic origin play a role in what you stand for. And I don't think Will Smith or whoever has anything to do with Obama's success either. That could have happened 20 years ago, these are events that also have something to do with chance. It could also have been that Al Gore would have won the election at the time, then Obama would probably not have existed today.

Is the migrant "Kanaken discourse", which was popularized by writers like Osman Engin or Feridun Zaimoğlu in the 90s, a successful concept of self-empowerment within an often ethnicizing or racist discourse?

Somuncu: I actually hated him and I still hate him. As a result of this development, which Feridun Zaimoğlu did not invent, the beginning of this dispute existed long before that. Whether it was films like “40 qm Deutschland” or cabaret groups like Knobibonbon or Günther Wallraff's “Ganz unten”. Even before Zaimoğlu, many fought for rapprochement between the two cultures and made mistakes in the process. Sometimes it was from a very German perspective, sometimes a very Turkish one, at some point it started to mix and become part of its own culture.

As I said, I hated that, because I found this hype, which always arose when you discovered the supposedly positive aspects of rapprochement, these labels that were then awarded, such as “Ethno” or “Kanak-Attak”, very exhausting, because I never really knew what that was supposed to be, but I also felt that the label somehow didn't work. It just gave a home to something that was actually very indefinable. And then a lot of people sat on this wave.

Kaya Yanar, for example, embodied this ambivalence perfectly, although what was behind it wasn't all that ambivalent, because Kaya is not the prototype of the German-Turk. He plays a role that is a reflection of something he knows more from television. With Feridun, on the other hand, it was initially a much more intelligent approach, but in the end it was just as little reflected and therefore, like with Kaya, has been appropriated as a model culture.

The reality was and is different. Turks who speak such a language (editorial note: as in the texts of Zaimoğlu's Kanak Sprak) are the minority. But who can say how many Turks in Germany speak excellent German? In this respect, despite all the temptation, this path was too simplistic for me and thus also a betrayal of my own identity. Because whenever I was offered roles, I noticed that people had long since subscribed to this ethnic label and wanted my image rather than me.

Yes, I have often found it more of an obstacle to have to refute prejudices that my own compatriots had put in my way. It was a positive attempt to free oneself from an attribution trap, from the clichés that others had given the Turks, but in the end it was nothing more than new, more of one's own clichés that one had even given oneself.

integration

If one looks at the areas of art, culture, sport and media, one can see an increasing representation of people of non-German origin. Why is it possible to achieve “successful” integration in these areas, while in the central areas of life such as the world of work, education or also on the housing market, deficits, problems and discrimination are mentioned above all?

Somuncu: I think it is a lie to say that our integration efforts have failed. Much of what I read and hear cannot be understood in reality. The foreigners living in Germany are not becoming more criminals, they are becoming more German. While the only terrifying fact I can read in black and white is that right-wing crimes have increased 20% in the past year. I have not yet read any statistics in which the number of criminal foreigners or criminal Turks has risen as much as that of right-wing Germans.

From my point of view, something is being constructed here, whatever the motivation, that does not correspond to reality. I am very categorical about this. Most of the time, however, it is about votes. For example, recently in Hamburg there was what I think was absurd discussion of naturalized Germans who commit a criminal offense to write in the police clearance certificate that they are naturalized for "statistical reasons". That is, if you swim against the current or become a criminal, you will be re-kanakized. That is a cheek!

I believe that there are still serious integration problems with the foreigners living in Germany, but it is much more important to find out the causes of these problems and not to believe the claims of those who believe that they have to measure the average of these problems by circulating biased statistics. The numbers are often not credible and the topics are often arbitrarily and incorrectly set.

Something else is of great importance in this context: While the Turks living here are largely left to their own devices on the part of the Turkish state and they are mostly harassed or confronted with demands, the Germans also do not have families in the process of integration helped their children born and raised in Germany. Because precisely here there was an urgent need for a dialogue about new forms of living together in a foreign country. This work can now be done in schools, for example, by specifically addressing issues of migration in schools instead of suppressing them.

Instead of constantly asking the Turks to speak better German, as a German you could learn a little Turkish.

Where do you see deficits in the integration discourse or in German integration policy on the “German side”?

Somuncu: Now I have to protect Germany too. Germany is actually very far here, even if there is still a lot to do. Not everything has been done right by a long way, and a lot has also been done wrong. There have been approaches for a proper integration policy even earlier. To deal with the culture of those who have lived here for 40 years would not do any harm. It would be a gain in knowledge and perspective.

That this was not done, that instead fear of the "foreign" was stirred up again and again, instead of looking at the "foreign", accepting the "foreign" until it became part of "one's own". This is something that is very difficult to convey to people. Because the fear of the "foreign" has remained, Germans very quickly feel threatened by foreign influences. In no other country are there as many roller shutters as in Germany. The word “the sidewalks are folded up” is something I only know from Germany.

Understanding these fears and reducing them would have been a step towards better integration and an openness that would not have driven people into the isolation that today often drives them into the arms of the fundamentalists. Mixing religious identity with national identity is also an expression of isolation and a withdrawal to traditional values. That should have been prevented.

What messages are there from the mainstream of the German integration discourse, especially to young people with a migration background?

Somuncu: During my school days there was a separation between German and foreign students. We were outsourced to our own class in elementary school, on the grounds that we could be "among ourselves" there. Later they complained that we were “too much among ourselves” and recently they have been talking about “parallel societies”.

It is all very easy to decipher: In the 1970s, the housing authorities assigned the apartments in the neighborhoods in which the foreigners lived according to nationalities. The Germans thought it was good when all the Turks lived in one neighborhood. There they are among themselves, “they don't have to speak a lot of German, which they can't speak anyway”. You can now see what emerged from it. And these quarters weren't something the Turks came up with, they were initially the facilities of German authorities. I believe that these mistakes are now being made again, especially among young people. One would have to involve young people in cultural work, and above all one would have to open many more doors to common areas of life that are not traditionally Turkish.

But as a migrant you also have to learn to claim and assert your space. For example, when I play roles, I almost never get cast for German characters. I have to claim it myself, otherwise it would always stay that way. In the meantime, I also get a role as a German from time to time. This demand starts at school. Not a class of its own, but together with the others. No religious instruction of your own, but a common subject for everyone. Far too little is done, however, and these are missed opportunities.

There are noticeably many German-Turkish comedians and cabaret artists. Is this a coincidence?

Somuncu: It's not a coincidence. You have to see this in connection with the development of our society in the last 10 to 15 years. The perception of society has become more and more specific, and yet we think more and more in divisions. For example, it has been found that it is easier to find viewers when you specialize. The Turks living in Germany are a relevant target group. After all, that's 3.5 million potential customers.

And the Turks are now clearly present not only in the entertainment industry. This is also the case in the book trade today. Turkish authors are desperately looking for. It is important that the title has a Turkish name, a Turkish title and that this book is advertised in such a way that Turks can identify with it and buy the book. This is called ethnomarketing or target group marketing.

Isn't there a little lack of self-irony in the German integration debates, or even irony as a way of dealing with things?

Somuncu: A picture occurs to me spontaneously. I was recently invited to the “First Congress for Interculture”. Among other things, the integration officer Böhmer was there, Rita Süssmuth shook my hand, Prime Minister Öttinger was there. To do this, of course, they have invited the usual catalog of presentable “quota canoes”. They were even allowed to sit in the front row and say something. What I found telling, however, was that they had invited a music combo from Africa to accompany the event.

The African musicians then played really hot music and the Germans then sat there and bobbed their feet. And when the Germans made their speeches, the Africans were sitting in the front row and didn't understand a word. That was then the “Congress for Interculture”. You can't think of anything more ridiculous, that wasn't interculture, that was anti-culture. I would have liked to have danced to the African music and translated to the Africans what they were supposed to listen to.

Did we experience the relaxed German patriotism that Gerhard Schröder wanted at the 2006 World Cup?

Somuncu: Not at all. That was the most uptight and disgusting German nationalism I have ever experienced. That was the resurrection of the German ghost. The people waved flags, but didn't know who to wave them with. Many flags were also scribbled with sayings in old German script. While watching, you often came into a very disgusting proximity to people who represent a Germany that is not my Germany.

Besides, I don't care if I hang a flag out of my window or not. If my team plays well, then I am happy for this team regardless of this flag. Everything that was given about “hospitality” and “visiting friends” was highly hypocritical. It ended in the semi-finals (editorial note: when Germany was knocked out against Italy): Then the headline in the BILD newspaper was: “Spaghetti Boycott”. And many of my friends also stopped being Italian for a few weeks. It no longer had anything to do with football, it was the display of a very sensitive soul.

The fatal thing about this World Cup was that discussions about national pride were also softened and mixed with current events, such as by Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who after a right-wing extremist attack in Potsdam on the German-Ethiopian Ermyas M. announced that there was no No. -go-areas in East Germany to pretend that we are “united football country” and have no problems with right-wing extremists. That was a slap in the face of anyone trying to seriously do something against neo-Nazis. It was primarily a tourism campaign for Germany.

It is often like that. On the one hand, hysteria is fueled and on the other hand it is ignored. The subway attack in Munich by young migrants dominated the media for a long time and was rated as an absolute crossing of borders. It was even the occasion for an entire election campaign that Roland Koch carried out on the backs of foreigners. The almost simultaneous right-wing attack on a theater group in Halberstadt ran as a short message on "ARD-brisant" and that was it. The relationships are not right here and that annoys me very much.

Artistic ways

What is the content of your current program "Hate Preacher"?

Somuncu: That is difficult to answer in brief. Like a red thread runs through my last programs, starting with the reading from “Mein Kampf”, which was also a turning point, which was also a solution to traditional forms of theater, the question “What is fascism?”, “How does it come about? "," What can you do about it? "And" How can you actually question and position yourself in these subject areas? "

In “Mein Kampf” it was very specific and clear. There was a text, here we were and there were the opponents. But already during this argument I noticed that it was very stereotypical, and it quickly got boring telling like-minded people like-minded and it was actually much more exciting to go to the supposed opponents and talk to them. I also accepted to stand at the fork in the road and have to make a decision, because it was often dangerous and there was the risk of getting either a medal or a black eye. A lot of new things have arisen from this thought.

After the readings from "Mein Kampf", which were very exhausting, because the broad masses at some point perceived it as something very symbolic and at some point I received a standing ovation, even before I had said anything, a reputation preceded me, that I didn't want at all. I didn't want to be “the enlightener” or the “denazifier” or “taboo breaker” or “provocateur”. I wanted to take a journey into myself and discover facets of myself that I didn't know before. That's why it was exciting to play in former concentration camps and see how people deal with them there.

In the sometimes sensational dissemination by the media, this also left something very mundane. "There is a Turk going to the east and reading from 'Mein Kampf'" and "look, he's showing off the bad Nazis". But I didn't want that at all, maybe I just wanted to talk to them and maybe I even liked what they said sometimes. It was much more exciting for me to find out why I suddenly found the Nazi perhaps more sympathetic than the anti-fascist, whom I found unsympathetic and uptight.

But the exciting question was, why don't you know what you should have known for a good 60 years. Most of the debates that are being held - and these are mostly closing debates - are about processing guilt, but not about looking at guilt. It is about an adequate amount of time to cope with guilt. My approach was different: I took “Mein Kampf” as the starting point for this argument. Because most of them don't know the book and that's why I asked the question why they don't know the book. The answer was often reduced to the fact that you weren't allowed to. And at the same time I was assumed to be indirectly campaigning for the publication of “Mein Kampf”.

In the next step, I thought about looking for a text that was freely published and asking the same question again. That's how I came up with Joseph Goebbels' “Sportpalastrede”, because you could read it freely at any time. But the fact was that no one had read this either. So what seemed to be behind it was that nobody wanted to read it. Dealing with the content seemed to be secondary, dealing with the affects of ideology was more interesting for many, whether they know the content or not. For me, however, the important question was why these two parts were not connected with each other. And the exciting thing was whether the connection between the two parts could have made the ideology lose its attraction.

And that was exactly the case: if I read the Sportpalast speech to Nazis, it had a much greater effect than if I had kept telling them, "This is bad what you are doing". Suddenly a discourse between me and the Nazis was possible, which was very fruitful. This dialogue is fundamental. I am therefore e.g.also strictly against the categorical locking out of Nazis at public events, as was often the case on my tour against the law with Claudia Roth. At every event I insisted that the microphone be held where the Nazis are. In Anklam I even approached one of the 120 Nazis present with the microphone. Then Anklamer citizens told me that it was the first time that a real discourse took place between the Anklamer citizens and those of the NPD.

After that I thought the direction would be too one-sided. If I do a new program against Nazis every year, then at some point I will become a kind of chief prosecutor against right-wing extremists in Germany. But that's not my job, I'm a theater person and I just talk about topics, but I don't have to be able to convey them all the time. After the topic of right-wing radicalism seemed to have reached the general public's awareness, I was now able to do without it.

For me, this was the time to question my own compatriots, because they were never present in performances where I actually needed them. It would have been a great opportunity for all Turks living in Germany to get into my ideas and to protect myself from the attacks of the Nazis and to show the flag. But that didn't happen. And the following argument with the quirks of their own compatriots was catastrophic. Ultimately, those who benefit most from the tolerance of others have shown the least tolerance themselves.

My penultimate question was then “Where does opinion arise?”. Namely in the middle of society. I asked myself how an opinion is created, who creates an opinion, how does an opinion become a conviction. Why do you believe more than you know? And this is where my new program "Hate Preacher" starts, where I now try to generate my own opinion. For the most part, I speak foreign texts without people knowing what I'm talking about, but most of the time they agree with me. For example, there is a longer text that is always accompanied by a lot of applause; it is from Scientology and is about a television review. In the following there are even bin Laden and the Pope and others and in the end something very terrifying comes out. At some point people lose track and you can say what you want, they agree with you. I am playing with ingrained sensitivities without dissolving them immediately.

Again, it's not about provocation. For me, it's about breaking down the boundaries of thought.

How are the audience reactions to it?

Somuncu: First of all, I have to say that I have very different audiences. Turkish youths from the YouTube generation or 75-year-old German men who otherwise never go to the theater. The reactions are mostly positive and people find what I do hard but appropriate. A few years ago that would have been too hard for people.

Public Enemy refer to rap as "Black CNN". Is your Saturday video blog "Hate Night" also to be understood as a kind of counter-public? What is the project about?

Somuncu: The Hate Night is first and foremost a counter-public that tries to use the medium of the Internet with all its facets. Even if the Internet is only free to use to a limited extent, because there is also censorship on Youtube, for example also with the Hate Night episode 20, where we still don't know why it was censored. Above all, however, I use the Internet as a medium to try things out and research what the viewing habits are like, who sees what and how it is then perceived in the change.

In the beginning we imitated television and it looked like a classic comedy sketch show. After an initial euphoria, our biggest fans then criticized it, which led us to consider how we can change that to show that it is something different than television on the Internet. Then we got the idea to censor ourselves. We have announced that we will only broadcast in camera, which has sparked a storm of indignation. Then there was an encrypted episode, like on Premiere, if you don't have a decoder. This series had the highest number of clicks until then, although nothing was to be seen.

So people don't want reproduction, they want unmistakably original content. They want statements and not generalities. That's when we noticed how much freedom we actually have here and have become much more playful and anarchistic. In each episode, we therefore now take up issues that are sensitive. I myself too. We are constantly changing positions and perspectives. In addition, the whole thing is a no-budget concept. So we have no money, but we are not dependent either. We therefore continue to experiment, for example with speeds, and try to understand the medium of the Internet. The internet is the future and still largely unexplored.

In the Hate Night they repeatedly address the topic of "fear" and the production of fear as well as the topic of control over media and the connection to many people's addiction to entertainment. What's behind it?

Somuncu: In these episodes I play a character. I play a bitter, lonely guy who hates everything, who above all represents a no longer silent majority, who reacts to things that happen to him. Banking crisis, jungle camp, elections, sex and crime. And he says it in a clear, direct, and inconsiderate way. In the middle of a world full of gray areas, it looks like a straight line to be drawn. Relaxing cathartic, value-free and unjust at the same time. The whole fear scenario that is formed around us is above all one thing: it is very diffuse and the guy simply asks questions that reflect and resolve these fears.

In June 2009 her new book “Der Anti-Türke” will be published by Rowohlt-Verlag. It should be about a history of the German-Turkish relationship. Can you tell us some of the highlights?

Somuncu: The book is a non-fiction book. First there will be a historical overview of how the Turks came to Germany, cultural-historical aspects such as the influence of Turkish culture on Central Europe. Then I discuss the question of the dominant culture, and whether this question is actually completely obsolete and anachronistic because the German and Turkish cultures have converged and mixed very closely for centuries and only a substitute debate is actually being held here.

The book asks questions about the failures of German integration policy, but also about the failures of the Turks themselves, who have not vehemently called for integration and have made contributions that are more than just a catalog of demands for recognition or for a new mosque.

These deficits have a lot to do with the structures of the Turkish families who live here in Germany. Many came from a rural part of Turkey, from eastern Anatolia. People often came with a relatively short-term claim. They not only had the idea of ​​returning, but also that of a Turkey that they wanted to preserve here, this “remembrance Turkey” that they also gave to their children on their way. That has lasted for 40 years and over generations and has become something quite unpredictable. Furthermore, it is about fundamentalist currents and the role of Turkish domestic politics and its influence on these fundamentalist developments.

On the one hand it is a very serious book, on the other hand it is also a humorous one. For example, I also give reciprocal instructions on how to deal with one another. You need that too. As a child, I never understood why Germans didn't invite you to dinner. With us the German children were always invited to dinner and everyone sat at one table. You have to know that Germans are not unfriendly to guests per se, they just don't know it. Providing a key to mutual understanding is the most important concern of my book.

At the end of 2009 they want to say goodbye to the stage as a theater person for the time being. Why are you taking this step and where are you going?

Somuncu: First of all, there are personal reasons for this. I have a premiere situation almost every evening and play freely, without rehearsed texts and, so to speak, invent a new piece every time. I've been doing this for 25 years now and now I find it incredibly exhausting. I have to reinvent myself every evening.

What is also quite overwhelming for me is the constant positioning in the many different contexts and the handling of this flood of opinions and attitudes. That exhausts me too much as an artist. I have not yet painted the picture and there are already five reviews of the picture on the Internet. But I would like more time to paint the picture and then maybe to whitewash it white again.

I'm going back more to my origins, theater and music. I'll be making a lot more music again, which I wasn't able to do before because I had no money and therefore no time for music. I will also be more at the theater again and maybe stage at a bigger house.

I want to be more literary again, I want to have time for myself and my work and not always be on the run and not always up-to-date. I don't feel like trundling through the republic for another 15 years and always doing the same thing, even if that were successful.

The interview was conducted by Andreas Merx.

You can find more about Serdar Somuncu here:

To the homepage of Serdar Somuncu here
To Serdar's Hate Night here
To appear as a prizewinner at the Prix Pantheon 2004 here

Serdar Somuncu is a German-Turkish actor, writer and musician who caused a sensation with readings from “Mein Kampf”. He currently runs the video blog "Hate Night" and tours with his program "Hate Preacher".