Dieter Tappert aka Paul Panzer is one of the most popular comedians in Germany. In real life, however, Tappert is completely different from his weird alter ego Paul: introverted, thoughtful with a penchant for melancholy.
On the occasion of his current “Midlife Crisis” tour, the comedy star talks in an interview about how he himself has been going through a form of midlife crisis for what feels like twenty years. In addition, he talks about his friendship with Mario Barth. And explains what is important when you want to start a project. The comedian also provides tips for performing in front of an audience.
FOCUS online: What does success mean for you personally?
“Paul Panzer”: That is a very subjective assessment. I am a person who is very rarely satisfied with my own success. I can’t say I’d be super-successful either. The question is, how do you want to measure success? Is that measured by money? Of spectators? Personally, I always measure that by the popularity. That thousands of people still come somewhere when I have a performance. This tells me that I did everything right.
You have worked very closely with comedian Mario Barth in the past. How did that come about?
“Paul Panzer”: Mario and I have known each other since we started in the entertainment industry. I was a comedy editor at the radio station at the time. Mario came back then as an intern. I had taken care of him and we hit it off right from the start. Since then, our paths in the Comey industry have also been intertwined.
And what is Mario Barth like?
“Paul Panzer”: We get along very well because we have a personal relationship with one another that is apart from what is in the public eye. Mario and I have always had a very special level because we know each other from a time when we were both nobodies. Of course, these are friendships that last a long time.
Did you learn from each other?
“Paul Panzer”: That’s difficult to say. I think we both went very different ways. But that has something to do with personality. I’ve always been someone who’s shy and reserved. And sometimes there was always a point in my career when I said that I really didn’t want all that because I didn’t want to be in the public eye. Right from the start Mario was totally focused and focused because that’s exactly what he wanted.
I have seldom met anyone who worked more single-mindedly towards a cause than he did! I respect his perseverance and his extraordinary will to succeed! Sometimes I would have liked to have had a bit more of it myself, because ambition is totally foreign to me. But it is needed in the industry. I would have liked to have had five percent of Mario’s unconditional will to succeed.
How would you describe your own personality? And how did you create the role of Paul Panzer?
“Paul Panzer”: In my private life, I’m definitely introverted and rather thoughtful, with a penchant for melancholy. As I said, actually the complete opposite of what the stage character Paul Panzer represents.
At first glance, Paul is a rather simple guy. That’s how I imagined his role: hard shell, soft core. Combined with a certain peasant cunning. I’ve always thought of Paul as a slightly crazy guy next door. That’s probably what has contributed to the success over the years, because Paul doesn’t mince his words. He also says things that are beyond the political correctness that we are currently confronted with every day. So the Paul says what he thinks before he thinks. He’s a simple guy with a good heart, so naturally polarizing.
Does that sometimes bite? And does Paul sometimes surface in your everyday life?
“Paul Panzer”: Yes, that’s how it is when we’re alone. Then everyone has their living space and a peaceful co-existence is possible. It is only always full of conflict when something comes into this constellation from the outside. In other words, when I’m somewhere as a dieter and mentally maybe somewhere else. And maybe I’ve had a bad day and I’m depressed, but at the same time I meet people who only know me as Paul. It’s difficult sometimes, because then I meet the expectations of the fans who don’t even know my other side. Then there is potential for conflict when it says: “Man Paul! Tell me a joke!”
Every stage show is always a kind of project. What practical tip would you give our readers on the subject of project management?
“Paul Panzer”: Before you start a project, you should think twice about whether you really want it! It sounds simple, but it’s hard to honestly ask yourself this question. As long as a project is just in my head and I’m just thinking about it, I haven’t moved anything. Neither money nor material nor other people or other people’s time.
But as soon as I involve other people in this, I should be really sure of the project! The bottom line is: if you do something, you do it with 100 percent! And if you’re not sure about that, I think it would be questionable to even start the project.
Do you have fixed rituals when you start a new project?
“Paul Panzer”: No, not really. Like I said, I think a lot. Sometimes it drives me crazy myself. I think a lot and that means I can quickly get away from things. There are many project ideas that eventually suffocate in my head. People who are close to me demonize it. But I can’t get out of my skin.
I’ll come back to Mario Barth. For me he is a doer and simply knocks his stuff out! In doing so, he always achieves a certain degree of success. And I’m someone who can also simulate things dead in my head beforehand.
Her current show is titled Midlife Crisis. How did the title come about?
“Paul Panzer”: “Midlife Crisis – Welcome to the Dark Side”. With a wink. Of course, Paul and Dieter are linked to each other again. I turned fifty this year. However, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a mid-life crisis for twenty years now because, as I said, in my private life I’m more of a melancholy type of melancholic person. I thought this midlife crisis theme was quite good.
I always talk about fantastic worlds that make you laugh your ass off. But like any comedian, this is fed by observations of reality. That’s why I’m a bit on my own and know exactly what things are on my mind.
Just between us. How do you actually inspire an audience?
“Paul Panzer”: Difficult question. It’s always difficult to put things that happen on an emotional level into a formula like this. It can be different for everyone, so I can only speak for myself.
I’ve always noticed: always try to be honest, even if that sounds very pathetic now! As a comedian, you can of course tell nonsense and invent stories. But what these stories are based on must have an emotional truth. You have to be yourself! That leads to people saying you’re a cool guy. Or not. Exactly like in real life. With some of the people you meet, you feel a real connection.
That leads me to the next premise: I never try to please the audience. I always do what I want to do. Then you find your audience. But chasing trends, for example, means that you make yourself the slave of the audience. It’s a relationship I don’t want. But I want to have the feeling that you are on an equal footing.