Dinner for One

As I’d got an apartment, registered my address, got a tax number, left the church, learned passable German, taken out health insurance, bought a bicycle… (takes breath)

…slept in a German bed, been to a German sauna, separated the rubbish, beaten the LIDL lady, seen the football, eaten the sausage, drunk the Glühwein and experienced the poo shelf, the next step in becoming German was obvious. It was time to watch “Dinner for One”, in keeping with the age-old German New Year’s Eve tradition.

Image taken from businessinsider.com
Image taken from businessinsider.com

Naturally, I was rather excited about this. What was this movie that had (allegedly) kept Germans enthralled and entertained for decades? It was time to find out. On New Year’s Eve (or Silvester, as it’s known here), I poured myself a nice, big glass of red wine and texted my friend.

Me: What time and channel is “Dinner for One” on? (OK, so I hadn’t done much research.)

Manfredas: Um, I think it was on at around nineteen hundred pm o’clock but I have no idea what channel.

Me: Shite. It’s ten now. Oh well. YouTube it is…

I had never heard of “Dinner for One” before moving to Germany, so I’ll assume you’re unfamiliar with it too. You can find information on how it came into existence here but the story is basically that of upper-class Englishwoman, Miss Sophie, and her servant, James. It’s Miss Sophie’s 90th birthday but the problem is that she has outlived all of her friends. Luckily, being 90 years old, she’s also a bit daft so James sets about moving around the table impersonating each of her (probably long-dead) friends in turn so she thinks they’re still with her on her big day. Sounds kind of sweet, right?

WRONG.

What follows is the most god-awful slapstick horror show you could ever imagine. Two minutes in saw me hitting the pause button and refilling my glass. Clearly I’d need more wine to get through this. I was only sorry I didn’t have anything stronger to hand.

Where’s the strong stuff when you need it?

As James impersonates the four other “guests”, he toasts Miss Sophie as each character at the beginning of every course – complete with German heel-click for Admiral von Schneider. Naturally, he gets steaming drunk as the night progresses.

The second time he tripped over the tiger’s head rug, I wanted to claw my own eyes out. The third time they slurred/chirped…

James: The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?

Miss Sophie: The same procedure as every year, James!

I wanted to glass my own ear drums.

By the time it got to the disgusting, lascivious wink in the last scene, I was wishing for my own tiger rug. Not because I’d developed a sudden taste for animal print, but because I would have deliberately tripped over it, cracked my head open on the counter top and ended it all.

The only saving grace of “Dinner for One” is that it’s just over 10 minutes long – any longer than that and I wouldn’t be here to write this post. If you’re wondering why it’s taken me until the 13th to write a New Year’s Eve post, I had to build up the fortitude to bring myself to watch it a second time. It actually got worse…

I mean, good God, what were the lovely Germans THINKING!?

Once I got back to Berlin, I asked all of my German students and friends if they had watched it.

NEIN.

Not one of them had. Not one. OK, so it might not be a representative sample of the entire German population, but not even ONE?

So, I’ve formulated a theory about this supposed German love for “Dinner for One”. Wait for it…

They don’t actually love it at all.

They tell foreigners that they love it. They convince said foreigners to watch it and then sit back and laugh uproariously when we fall for it. That’s what’s funny about “Dinner for One” to German people. Am I wrong?

If you’re feeling brave, you can watch the entire monstrosity here:

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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82 thoughts on “Dinner for One”

  1. Uh, you did it all wrong. The big sectret is… it’s a drinking game. First, you never ever watch it alone, that’s boring. You watch it in a big group and and you take a drink every time James drinks and every time he trips. Believe me, at the end of it you will find it funny and laugh at it. 😉

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  2. Ha! You fell for it! Just kidding, but I think you are 100% correct. Ze Deutsch are dicking with us again!
    I’d never heard of it either, but so far have managed to escape with only one viewing. BV made me watch it at some point early in our relationship and I was just as perplexed as you were. He did try to tell me that we had to watch it since we were home on NYE this year- because it’s tradition!- but I countered that by saying in the three previous NYEs we’ve spent together, not once have we watched. Therefore, not our tradition. Boom.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome to the world of German humour. So sorry to disappoint :-))
    It can always be worse, I guess? Let us all be thankful that Benny Hill is not involved whose show was quite popular in Germany as well. A yearly rerun of that would be a good reason to leave the country :-0

    However, now you have entered the world of German humour … here are more classics (well known to everyone above the age of 35 or 40 I would say). Enjoy 😀

    slapstick
    Palim palim https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZNOk7upy7A
    Teppichverleger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMUJI7dKbOo
    das Bild hängt schief https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMUJI7dKbOo

    language
    You must love this one! “Telekolleg – Deutsch für Ausländer” by Loriot!

    TV-Ansage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRp-TAOnDp8

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must say that I’m pleased that the U.S. is not listed. While our taste may be rather wonky at times, I don’t see this catching on here.

    I watched it before reading the post. Dis no one ever share the cardinal rule of comedy with these guys that “Three times is a bit!” Anything more that that is just overkill. (Referring to the lion rug.) Suddenly I don’t feel so bad at the Christmas stuff we play over and over, almost to the point of killing it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. With us, up until a year or so ago, it was A CHRISTMAS STORY. Which is a great movie. But one network ran it for 24 hours, while you could find it on other channels as well. No one ran it this year. I think they killed it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a list of countries that love it in the Wikipedia article – “Versions of the sketch are also shown by Danish and Swedish channels; it is a December 23 staple on Norwegian national television, and a cult television classic in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Faroe Islands and Austria; on New Year’s Eve 2003 alone, the sketch was broadcast 19 times (on various channels). As of 2005, the sketch had been repeated more than 230 times. It is known in other countries as well, including Switzerland and South Africa. It has been broadcast on New Year’s Eve in Australia on the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) station for a number of years.”
      Madness 😉

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  5. Never said it was any good, only that it was a German tradition, same as every year, same as next year, it will come to you like it or not. No, even the consumption of the “stronger” stuff will not improve the situation unless you pass out or change the channel. Happy 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Brits are the Grail- keeper of humour –> all their elaborations are funny –> “Dinner for One” is funny –> Miss O’Grady isn’t funny –> the Irish aren’t British! (quod erat demonstrandum)
    P.S..: My dear wife criticises eagerly the absence of the “Sissi”- trialogue during the Christmas holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. OMG. This again.

    Herr BCE gave me this on DVD as a PRESENT back in the days when he was trying to convince me that dating a German engineer would be a good thing. Thankfully, he coupled it with a bottle of sekt. I sat in a horrible hotel room in San Marino, watching on a laptop, thinking “Okaaaaay…I thought he LIKED me?” I have told him that its as funny as haemorrhoids but he still roars with laughter and says, ‘see?! you love it!”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh my gosh, so many “Dinner for One” haters! I will readily admit that I have watched it every Silvester for at least 10 years, and parts of it still make me laugh (though I agree the tiger rug is annoying). I am American, my mother-in-law is British, and my husband is half-Brit, half-German. We love the dialects of the various “guests”, especially the one from (I think) Lancaster.
    We actually quote the darn thing during the year. We never say when planning a meeting, for instance, “Should we do this the way we did last time?”… “I’ll kill that cat” has come up a few times, too.
    I find American slapstick hard to take, but Brits somehow make it work for me. “Cheerio, Miss Sophie!” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My German teacher made us watch this in a festive class, before explaining, in German, how it was the most hilarious thing in her house every year. Apart from that she was a good person though.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. ah, yes. I’m an occasional slapstick joke victim 😉 since I’ve watched it a couple of weeks ago when I was rather down with my mood and all, that was almost the perfect kind of joke at the time.
        Only my take was that ol’ lady WAS aware of what her servant was doing 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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