NewsOliver Polak: "Dating is often like a bad job...

Oliver Polak: "Dating is often like a bad job interview"

Created: 10/07/2022 9:33 p.m

Oliver Polak mit seinem Hund Arthur, mit niemanden hat er mehr Zeit verbracht, auf der Suche nach der Liebe in Paris.
Oliver Polak with his dog Arthur, he hasn’t spent more time with anyone, looking for love in Paris. © Gerald von Foris

Comedian and author Oliver Polak tells in his first novel “L’amour numérique – And daily greets the lust for love” not only about bizarre Tinder dates. It is also about the search for unconditional love. In an interview, the 46-year-old talks about the longing for romance in the Tinder era.

“My iPhone, my accomplice in dispossessing love. dating apps. I expose, want to feel. And make me and others a disposable product.”

In his new book, Oliver Polak writes primarily about the often rather broken, crazy and also sad world of online dating: “Dates, chats: less a real getting to know each other, but rather a querying of key data, of the obvious. When meeting, put the filter “Hide your own pile of rubble” over it. And then in a panic fasten the “love” to a rusty bridge with a 3-euro lock from the hardware store, solidify it. want to include. The opposite of what love is.”

The comedian and author only landed in New York a few hours ago when he gives the interview. The 46-year-old Berliner visits his 95-year-old aunt Ilse, a Holocaust survivor who emigrated to the United States decades ago, as often as he can. His great love for her as well as for his dog Arthur, a schnauzer-terrier mix, is the subject of his fourth book “L’amour numérique – And daily greets the greed for love”, which will be published this Monday. The episodic novel takes place in places like Emsland, Paris, Berlin and also in New York.

Mr. Polak, “L’amour numérique” is your first novel. You yourself say that you have read a maximum of ten books in your life. Are you often asked how it is that you can write so well, even though you have read so little?

I’ve actually heard that a lot. Also from the editor of my first book. He kept saying, “I don’t understand it at all. You hardly read any books and can write like that.” The trick is often not to question things. Live more and just do it – that doesn’t just apply to literature. Even as a child, I had a narrator in my head who commented on the things that happened to me at the same time. The narrator always had a bit of the lethargic and melancholic attitude and also the voice of Bill Murray. Then I read Florian Illie’s book “Generation Golf” when it was published in 2000. His tonality was also in my subconscious when I started writing.

What did you like about his book?

I identified with it a lot because it was also a big part of my youth: Eating flip flops on the sofa in a bathrobe on Saturday evenings at “Wetten, dass ..?”, playing Playmobil. And I liked that he had such clear pictures. The only writing “tip” I got in my life was from my friend, the writer Roman Voosen. He said, ‘Oliver, when you write, write everything the person sees, down to the last detail.’ This combination of Florian Illies, my friend’s advice plus the first book I read, ‘Alf. Here I am”, the story about the shaggy 80s TV series alien, shaped my writing style. (laughs)

In your book you also tell bizarre Tinder date stories. Once a woman wants you to whip her. But it’s about much more than a series of episodes. You talk about the search for unconditional love…

The question is whether you will find love by looking for it. And if you haven’t found it yet, did you do something wrong? In my book I tell about various experiences of the protagonist, so that one can also observe his lust for love. And as a reader, you can perhaps find parallels to your own search. There’s this song by the doctors, “Scream for Love.” Sometimes the lust for love is so extreme that it’s a cry for love…

This means?

It’s also about the denied love as a child, about abysses, contradictions, the search for tenderness and the question of whether there is one great love and what love actually is and between whom it takes place. As described in the book, this can be the love between dog and human. But it’s also about the question of whether we don’t generally use the world like Tinder now: “I need it, I don’t need it, I throw it away.”

You are 46, so you belong to a generation that still knows analog data: Was that the better dating world?

All of this has advantages and disadvantages. When I was a teenager, I had to overcome myself when I wanted to call a girl because the parents first picked up the phone: “Wait a minute, Annika is coming.” You had to overcome yourself to talk to someone. It’s different now. I’m not a dating guy. I’m doing this and I understand what the idea of it is – but as a pickup artist I would fail.

What fails you when it comes to dating?

I can’t get this manipulation done, where you only show the best parts of yourself like with a movie trailer. But the problem is that online dating is the opposite of romance. It’s asking for obvious basic data, it’s often like a lousy job interview. Often the focus is on banging. That’s not the case with me.

What are you looking for?

I always like it when things develop. I know I’m in love when spending time with the person is enough. This can be a moment when you briefly touch the other’s finger for the first time.

To person

Oliver Polak, born in Papenburg in 1976, is a stand-up comedian, author and podcaster. He started his television career at the music station “Viva”. His books “I May, I’m a Jew”, “The Jewish Patient” and “Against Jew Hatred” were bestsellers.

In 2017 he received the Grimme Prize for his Pro-Sieben show “Applause and Out”. Together with Micky Beisenherz, Polak has the podcast “Friendly Fire”.

He lives in Berlin with his terrier mix Arthur. With his new book “L’ amour numérique”, which will be published by Suhrkamp on October 10, Polak is going on a reading tour: Hamburg (October 24), Cologne (October 25), Frankfurt (October 30). Berlin (7 November). All dates: rose

It’s your first book that, while not autobiographical, is very close to your life. It’s a kind of declaration of love to your dog Arthur, who is called Toto in the novel, and to your aunt, who lives in New York. Both are very old and you describe the fear of losing them…

I’m in New York right now and I’m going to see my aunt in a few hours, she’s coughing. She’s not doing well today, and of course it’s the way I describe it in my book: that I’m between two deaths in real life too. Whenever I leave New York, I think: will she still be there when I come back? Or is it goodbye forever? She is 95. She has always been a home to me.

What does your dog mean to you?

It is a great enrichment that he is there. I was alone a lot, especially during the lockdown, but because I had the dog, I got up at moments when I would have preferred to lie down because I had to walk him. I’ve never spent as much time with anyone in my life as I have with him. But he is already old and his death is a big issue for me.

Her protagonist is always looking for women who visually resemble his young mother and treat him emotionally badly. In your podcast “Friendly Fire” you keep saying that you don’t have a good relationship with your mother. The fictional mother in her novel writes a Whatsapp message to the protagonist at one point: “I’ve read your new book, so you won’t find a woman anymore, the only thing missing is that you kill yourself.” How close is that to yours Life?

It describes this feeling that my mother gave me again and again. That’s exactly the problem, the love you’ve been denied, this coldness: Love is something much bigger for you when it’s been denied to you and you’re almost addicted to it because you haven’t had it for so long and you like that need a lot of it.

How do you manage to fall in love despite a disappointed love?

You can only fall in love if you are open, because behind fear is life. But if you’re stuck with the fear, “Oh no, I don’t want to be disappointed,” then you’re missing out on a lot. I believe that love is fundamentally a decision: Do I even want a relationship? Do I want love in a partnership? And I think the moment you open yourself up to it, more can come. But of course, if you’ve been shown the wrong relationship by your parents, i.e. you have the wrong definition of love, for example a lot of drama, then it’s important to recognize: “Okay, I have to change my prey pattern”. But I’m not someone who can explain it well, I feel it more…

Still using Tinder?

I still have that. But data is not my focus right now. I’m preparing two new TV shows, I’m writing a book and I’m starting a new podcast by the end of the year. But right now it’s okay. I can accept better that I’m alone.

It is often assumed that singles cannot be happy alone…

This is bullshit. Many people also say that you can’t wear black and blue together. Who says that? Who decides that? Of course you can also be happy alone. Even a lifetime. My aunt never had a partner and was happy.

What is your definition of happiness?

The band KIZ describes the definition of happiness in their song like this: “Big house in southern France, small alcohol problem, no appointments and easy standing.” That’s definitely nice. (laughs) My problem is that I often can’t understand and accept happiness when it’s there; that I live too much in longing instead of in the here and now. There’s a lot of luck involved: I’m also lucky that I’m lying in bed now and I’m about to take the subway to my aunt’s, have good music on my headphones, and then meet her.

Interview: Kathrin Rosendorff

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