Under the Hill

so tired…

Dinner for One

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“Dinner for One” is a rather obscure comedy sketch written by British author Laurie Wylie for theatre in the 1920s. In 1963 German regional public TV-station NDR made a recording of the piece for broadcast with Freddie Frinton and May Warden. In English actually, as everything English was kind of hip back then, even though people would not have called it that way. As the German audience was supposed not to know enough of English to actually understand the whole of it, it was produced with a little introduction in German explaining what exactly would happen on screen in the following 15 minutes. Not really the best way to keep the suspense up, but who did ever say Germans knew how humor works?

90-year old Miss Sophie (whose family name is omitted for the sake of decency) is having a birthday dinner with her four best friends/suitors. Unfortunately all of them are dead already, the last one of them died 25 years ago. So trusty butler James has to take their place toasting to the host. And while he does so he becomes increasingly sloshed. Hilarity ensues.

The sketch would most likely would have fallen into obscurity soon after the first broadcast, in Great Britain itself it is virtually unknown, but somehow Germans encountered a strange fondness for it in themselves. So much of a fondness that beginning from 1972 it was re-broadcast every single New Year’s Eve in up to 15 different timeslots on various channels. It has become a tradition in many places to watch the skit at least once on that evening, sometimes even more often. While the sketch is funny the first time around, it somehow adds to it’s humour to watch it for the n-th time with a group of people who actually know every single joke already, and still laugh to it after 20 years of watching it every single year.  Most Germans will quote it by heart, especially when talking about something inherently English.

A fact which often confuses British people themselves, because Germans talk to them in those weird phrases from something they don’t know (“The same procedure as last year Miss Sophie?”). Which confuses the Germans on the other hand, because how can English-speaking people NOT know it. It is English after all…

Dinner for One at the Internet Archive [link]

Dinner for One in Wikipedia [link]

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Written by G. Neuner

31. December 2008 at 5:57 pm

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