Volker Pispers is a German political cabaret artist. He was born in Rheydt (a borough of Mönchengladbach, Germany) on the 18th of January, 1958. He lived there until he finished his Abitur, and then left for Bonn and eventually Münster, where he studied pedagogy, catholic theology and English studies.
In 1979, he spent a year working as a teaching assistant in England. It was during this time that he discovered his passion for both black humour and the stage. Upon his return to Germany, he joined various student-run theatre groups. 1983 brought his first solo performance. Two years later the second show followed, while he also began working as an actor at the Wolfgang Borchert Theater in Münster. In 1986 he gave up his job as a teacher, as well as that of an actor, to concentrate on cabaret. He continued occasionally working together with other artists until 1991, when he became independent.
Since the year 1998, he has regularly been involved in radio and TV shows. During the Iraq War, he gained a larger audience after word of his harsh criticism of the American government spread.
In 2002, he performed a show called "... Bis Neulich" (Until Recently), a best of collection of his work in the last 20 years. Ever since he has regularly updated some parts of his performance to include criticism of recent events, while keeping old material. He has said that this is his way of ensuring that his performance mirrors the status of the republic: "The ever-new in the ever-same."
He has published several books and audiobooks, as well as DVDs of his performances.
"Der Volksmund sagt: Religion ist Opium für das Volk. Das ist irreführend. Opium ist eine bewußtseinserweiternde Droge."
There's a saying: Religion is the opium of the people. That is misleading. Opium is a consciousness-expanding drug.
"Natürlich hat kein Mensch in Deutschland was gegen Ausländer. Keiner hat was gegen Ausländer. Wir arbeiten ja noch an einem Mittel."
Of course no person in Germany has anything against foreigners (immigrants). No one has anything against them. We're still working on a remedy.
"Werden sie erwischt, wie sie jemanden 100 Gramm Haschisch verkaufen, sitzen sie, wenn sie Pech haben, zwei Jahre und sechs Monate Knast ab – ohne Bewährung. Das ist dieselbe Strafe, die sie kriegen, wenn sie in Leverkusen als Grundschullehrer 62 Kinder sexuell mißbrauchen. Wie man das auf 100 Gramm umrechnet, weiß ich auch nicht."
If you were to get caught selling 100g of hashish to someone, you'd be spending, if you're unlucky, two years and six months in prison - without the possibility of parole. This is the same punishment you would get if, as a primary school teacher in Leverkusen, you were to sexually molest 62 children. How this is converted into 100g, I don't know myself.
"Wie immer kommt es darauf an, wer wem was wann wo sagt. Wenn zum Beispiel ein General zu mir 'Idiot' sagt, ist das nur eine Beleidigung. Im umgekehrten Fall kann das schon der Verrat militärischer Geheimnisse sein."
As always, it depends on who is saying what to whom, when and where. If, for example, a general tells me I'm an "idiot", then it's just an insult. If the situation were reversed, then it may already be betrayal of military secrets.
"Angela Merkel zitiere ich ja am liebsten wörtlich, ich hab noch keine bessere Möglichkeit gefunden diese Frau zu beleidigen."
I prefer quoting Angela Merkel with utmost precision, as I haven't found a better way of insulting her so far.
"Keine Sorge! Die Regierung hat die Probleme im Griff. Sie kriegt sie nur nicht wieder los."
Don't worry! The government has a grip on the problems. It just can't seem to shake them off again.
"Was erwarten sie denn noch? Ein Volk, das sich alkoholfreies Bier aufschwatzen läßt, das greift auch zu einer kompetenzfreien Regierung."
What are you expecting anyway? A people, who get talked into alcohol-free beer, will also reach for a competence-free government.
Quotes are from various shows, the text of the better ones having been published as books.
English translation by me.
For anyone interested, you can find a few of his shows on youtube. Some of them even have English subtitles.