'"I am a Poor, Skinny Man": Persona and physicality in the work of Karl Valentin'

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Double, Oliver ; Wilson, Michael (2008)

The celebrated Munich cabaret artist Karl Valentin first came to prominence with his performance of his sketch Das Aquarium in 1908. This was also the moment at which he first established a comedy based on extreme logic, wordplay and misunderstanding, which in turn created a world in which his innocent "matter-of-fact-ness" exposed the absurdities of social situations. This article explores Valentin's use of his extraordinary skinniness to create both an effective comic persona and a comic physicality in his work. The authors argue that it was in Valentin's slightly earlier sketch, Ich Bin ein armer magerer Mann, that the comedian found his physical "comic voice", and they go on to provide an analysis of the improtance of physicality in Valentin's work, particularly in relation to this sketch. A bew translation of the sketch is also provided.
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