Life in Berlin
Cheeky memes and satirical videos on the web
Memes and short, funny – often viral – videos are now a fixture of everyday life. They’ve become even more popular since the spread of smartphones and are increasingly reaching older generations, too. So it’s only natural that various aspects – and oddities – of everyday life in Germany’s cosmopolitan capital should become YouTube and Instagram memes too. Here are a few humorous takes on present-day Berlin on the web.
By Lucas Galindo
The first time I came across a funny Berlin video that had gone viral on YouTube, especially among university students, was back in 2012: in Shit Expat Berliners Say, an American parodies hip young expats in Berlin. Every denizen of the German capital is familiar with these clichés: it seems like every second person you meet here wants to be a DJ and almost all the local students drink Club-Mate (or similar brands), a carbonated, heavily caffeinated energy drink based on the traditional South American beverage yerba mate.
Since 2017, Daniel-Ryan Spaulding, an openly-gay expat stand-up comedian, has become a local celebrity thanks to It's Berlin!, a series of his sketches on YouTube and Instagram. While he used to produce material mainly for the LGBT scene (It's Berlin: Cute Guys!), he recently caught on with mainstream audiences after appearing on German TV (on the programme ZDF Magazin Royale) in November 2020. These days he lampoons the exasperating and chaotic ordeal of dealing with German red tape at the foreigners' registration office, for example, in Ausländerbehörde: Explained!
Let's turn to Berlin memes now. For those unfamiliar with this buzzword, memes are simple combinations of (usually viral) images and text with humorous and controversial content and often including inside jokes. A great many Instagram profiles post memes on specific subjects: berlinauslandermemes (i.e. “Berlin expat memes”), for example, counts 134,000 subscribers. It caricatures the typical German one seems to see on every other street corner: sporting a pair of “square” spectacles and, of course, the obligatory trendy black beanie (everyone wears black in Berlin!), he works at a start-up (typical!) and goes in for bouldering, a sport that’s all the rage nowadays, in his free time. I guess somebody had some lousy dates with guys like him.
With some 204,000 subscribers, berlinclubmemes takes it to the next level and is almost exclusively about Berlin’s fabled club culture. It pokes fun at the stereotypical crowd to be found at the Panorama Bar in the Berghain techno club. Whilst a gaggle of party-animal tourists from Spain and Italy dance in front of the DJ booth, a Japanese architecture student (most likely at Berlin’s UdK (University of the Arts)) is standing in the back corner all by himself, wondering what he's doing there. Meanwhile, the German tourists prefer to sit at the bar guzzling beer. So it’s a humorous sociological send-up of the typical Berlin mix.
Is Instagram only for young people? No way! Witness 76-year-old style icon Günther Krabbenhöft with a whopping 123,000 followers. Since 2015, this elegant dandy has become an Internet phenomenon, which just goes to show you can still make it big as an influencer at a ripe old age.
So there are plenty of funny videos and memes about Berlin on the world wide web that give outsiders an interesting, amusing and sometimes cryptic inside look at day-to-day life here in the German capital. And they certainly help against Covid-induced boredom. So have fun browsing!