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Jan Böhmermann in the Royal magazine: Satire despite the war – "A clown has to defend his country"

ZDF Magazin Royal is all about the Ukraine conflict – a real challenge for Jan Böhmermann. But can satire work in times of war?

Cologne – In the current program of ZDF Magazin Royal, satirist Jan Böhmermann had to face what is probably the most difficult task of his professional life: How do you make satire and how do you make people laugh when war is raging in Europe? Because one thing is very clear: Even with Jan Böhmermann, there is only one topic – Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

ZDF Magazin Royal: Jan Böhmermann – “can understand if someone is currently not in the mood for humor”

Cynical, relaxed sayings, subtle comments and ruthless satire – that’s what Jan Böhmermann stands for. But in the ZDF program “Neo Magazin Royal” on March 4, Böhmermann finds exactly what distinguishes him difficult. In 30 minutes of broadcasting time, however, Böhmermann shows that satire can succeed even in times of crisis. Honesty is his main means of winning over the audience despite the tragic subject matter.

Right at the beginning, Böhmermann says with all honesty and seriousness that the show is one thing above all: improvised. Because the news from Ukraine overwhelmed him and his team. “It’s war in Europe and this time our show will be a little different than usual,” says Böhmermann. And further: “I can understand if someone is currently not in the mood for humor.”

broadcast ZDF Magazine Royale
moderator Jan Böhmermann
genre Late night show, satire, comedy
broadcast cycle Every Friday at 11 p.m

ZDF Magazin Royal: Program on the Ukraine conflict – Böhmermann takes aim at Schröder

Nevertheless, Böhmermann insists on entertaining the audience with his usual cynicism – and at the expense of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD), among other things. Because the former chancellor, who is considered an ally of Putin, did not distance himself enough from the Russian aggressor and, despite the ongoing invasion, did not give up his positions on the supervisory boards of numerous Russian state-owned companies. Because of his behavior, the SPD has now removed Schröder from the list of major social democrats.

In his program, Böhmermann says that Schröder is one of the most important Gazprom league players and Putin’s most important “bosom friend”. However, the only thing Schröder has ever done for Ukraine is this post for Insta.

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ZDF Magazin Royal: Böhmermann on Selenskyj – “A clown must now defend his country”

However, he shows sympathy for the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Böhmermann even has some things in common with him. “He’s only three years older than me, had the same job,” says Böhmermann, alluding to Selenskyj’s job as a comedian. And that’s not all: “He was the winner of the Ukrainian Lets Dance 2006, he’s the Ukrainian voice of Paddington! You can’t stop shaking your head,” says the satirist.

The acting, the humor and the lightness are over for Selenskyj, at the latest when the Russian troops marched into Ukraine on February 24th. “A clown now has to defend his country and, best of all, democracy and freedom in Europe right away,” Böhmermann puts it in a nutshell.

Böhmermann in the ZDF Magazin Royal: “Europe still does business with war criminals”

Probably the most important question that Böhmermann raises on his show: Why were we so surprised by Putin’s war of aggression? Were we too naïve, were we fooled?

There have already been signs of Putin’s power fantasies in the past – for example with the Russian annexation of Crimea. Nevertheless, Germany ignored the alarm signals and, after this conflict, nevertheless decided to build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea. So to this day, Europe is “doing business with war criminals,” Böhmermann continued. Hard to believe: “Europe is now importing more Russian gas than before the war against Ukraine.”

Here are a few facts: As Böhmermann’s team has researched, the EU imports Russian gas with an average value of 250,000 euros per minute. That alone is 7.5 million euros that Russia gets during the show, Böhmermann knows.

Ukraine war: Böhmerman in the ZDF Magazin Royal – Putin had previously waged a “war of disinformation”

One thing is certain: Putin did not just start his war in February. Because the aggressor Putin has previously waged a “war of disinformation” against the West and now also against Ukraine. Disinformation is Vladimir Putin’s specialty, says Böhmermann. The 2016 US presidential election also shows how successful he has already been.

Back then, Russian trolls and bots swayed millions of Americans with disinformation and hate speech, ultimately leading to Trump’s victory. Even in Germany, Putin’s trolls were successful – and gave the AfD a place in the federal government in the 2017 federal election campaign, adds Böhmermann.

ZDF Magazine Royale

The late-night show with Jan Böhmermann runs every Friday at 11 p.m. on ZDF. You can see the episode in the media library here.

Ukraine war: ZDF program with Jan Böhmermann – Putin describes Ukraine as a Nazi people

Putin made his disinformation particularly clear with his speech in which he reports on his decision to wage war against Ukraine. He’s waging a war with “words that don’t sound all that hostile at first glance,” says Böhmermann. A big mistake.

This is followed by an excerpt of Putin’s video address as he talks about the motives for his invasion of Ukraine: “The aim of the Russian special operation is to protect the people who have been mistreated and murdered by the Kiev regime for eight years. To this end, we will try to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine and bring to justice those who have committed numerous bloody crimes against the civilian population.”

It seems impossible to understand how Putin continues to perpetuate these lies and the false narrative about his neighboring country and its residents. And that despite the fact that the incumbent Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyj, comes from a Jewish family and is a descendant of victims of the Holocaust, says Böhmermann.

ZDF: Böhmermann ends the show with a song – “Do you think the Russians want war?”

The show ends after 30 minutes. Many questions remain unanswered – questions that no one can really answer at the moment. Nevertheless, Böhmermann insists on one thing: surprising his audience with a show at the end. The satirist says he found a Soviet song from the 1960s on the Internet. A bit hectic, he puts on a black jacket, steps onto the stage in a Soviet look and grabs the microphone. “Do you think the Russians want, do you think the Russians want, do you think the Russians want war,” he sings in a firm, deep voice. (nb)

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