Otto Waalkes

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Otto Waalkes
OttoWalkes (jha).jpg
Born
Otto Gerhard Waalkes

(1948-07-22) 22 July 1948 (age 72)
Occupationcomedian, actor
Websitewww.otto-waalkes.com
Otto Waalkes live (2005)

Otto Gerhard Waalkes (born 22 July 1948) is an East Frisian comedian and actor. He became famous in the 1970s and 1980s in Germany with his shows, books and movies. His perhaps most famous trademark are the 'Ottifanten' ('Ottiphants'), elephant-like comic characters of his own design. They featured on the cover of his first album release.[1]

He shares a close friendship with tennis player Steffi Graf, who also makes an appearance (as herself) in the movie Otto – Der Außerfriesische. He has one child ("Benjamin Karl Otto Grigori Waalkes") with his first wife Manuela Ebelt, and was later married to actress Eva Hassmann until November 2011,[2] who co-starred with him in Otto – Der Katastrofenfilm.

He also works as a voice actor, providing, among others, the German voices of Mushu in Disney's Mulan movies, Sid the Sloth in the Ice Age franchise, and The Grinch in The Grinch

Life[edit]

Otto Waalkes was born as the second son of Karl Waalkes, a master painter, and his wife Adele (born Lüpkes). Together with his older brother Karl-Heinz, he grew up in the working-class district Transvaal in Emden.[3] His parents were deeply religious Baptists and members of the Evangelic Free Church community of Emden, which taught a Bible-class that Waalkes visited regularly. He made his first public performance at the age of eleven years in a shopping mall in Emden, where he presented songs, including the Babysitter Boogie, a German version of the Baby Sittin' Boogie. He was awarded with a voucher of 30 Deutschmark and the book Mutiny on the Bounty. When Waalkes was twelve years old, he received his first guitar. In 1964, he performed for the first time in the area of Emden with his band The Rustlers, mainly covering songs by The Beatles. Waalkes was the front of the band, being the lead singer and the lead guitarist simultaneously. He toured with his band in the regions of Eastern Friesland for five years.[4]

In 1968, Otto Waalkes passed his final exams (Abitur) at a boys' grammar school in Emden. After having failed to obtain a university place in Freie Malerei (free art studies), he started to study art education at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg in 1970, although he never pursued a teaching profession.[5] Among others, he was taught by Hans Thiemann, a German painter.

Otto’s first stage performance happened in Danny’s Pan, a folklore club in Hamburg where people could perform for ten minutes after having paid five Deutschmark. He lived in a commune named Villa Kunterbunt (German for Villa Villekulla) together with 14 roommates in Hamburg. Two of his roommates were Udo Lindenberg and Marius Müller-Westernhagen.[6]

Otto Waalkes kept performing smaller gigs with his guitar in clubs of Hamburg to finance his studies. He cracked some jokes alongside to his songs and apologized whenever he accidentally dropped the microphone due to his nervousness. Over time, his apologies became more popular than his music, so his comedic stage show started to evolve. The clubs where he performed became gradually bigger – suddenly they were not merely named Onkel Pö but Westfalenhalle.[5]

In 1972, Waalkes met his later manager Hans Otto Mertens. In the same year, he performed his first big concert with his band The Rustlers in Hamburg, which he recorded live at his own charge. He also founded the label Rüssl Räckords with Mertens, because no other record label wanted to publish the live records of Waalkes’ performance. His album LP Otto was published in the same year and was sold over 500,000 times.

Waalkes was married with Manuela “Manu” (born Ebelt) from 1987 to 1999. In 1987, his son Benjamin Karl Otto Gregory was born.[3]

In 2000, Waalkes married Eva Hassmann in Jork, an actress born in 1972.[7] According to their own statement, they had an open marriage and often lived in different places.[8][9]

The couple officially split in early November 2011 [10] and got divorced on 22 November 2012.[11]

Otto Waalkes lives in Hamburg-Blankenese and is officially registered as a constituent of Hamburg.[3]

Career[edit]

Waalkes’ humor consists of puns and word plays as well as the use of silly and funny language, noises and body language. Parodies, for instance in form of popular songs that he revises and presents with his guitar, are typical stylistic elements. Additionally, he often imbeds satire, political innuendos and critique of time and society into his humorous performances.

His Otto-Bücher (Otto-books) are regularly published and his Otto-Langspielplatten (Otto-long-playing records) became bestsellers, whereby many records attained top spots in musical charts and shops.

Waalkes is counted among the entertainers that have influenced the general use of language. A considerable part of this refers back to his early performances, where he mainly used texts of the New Frankfurt School. For example, the sentence “Hast du mal ‘ne Zigarette? Meine Schachtel steckt noch im Automaten!“ (“Do you have a cigarette? My pack is still in the machine!“) was firstly introduced by Waalkes. The set phrase “Einen hab’ ich noch!” (“I’ve got another one for you!”) introducing the next joke is often ascribed to him, however, it was firstly introduced by Heinz Erhardt, as many of Waalkes’ set phrases are.

Otto Waalkes played roles that became famous on their own, for example the reporterHarry Hirsch, Frau Suhrbier and the senior forestry official Oberförster Pudlich,as well as Herbert von Karamalz, who portrays a parody of Herbert von Karajan and a nod to Malt beer.

Waalkes’ most famous comic character is the Ottifant ('Ottiphant'), which he drew originally only for the cover of a record. Over time, the stick-figure developed into a distinct cartoon character with its own family. Their adventures and stories were published in several newspapers and books. Furthermore, a cartoon series, consisting of 13 episodes, depicted the Ottifanten on RTL (German TV channel) and Super RTL in 1993. An animated cinema movie named Kommando Störtebeker portrayed the Ottifanten.

Besides his stage performances, Waalkes has appeared several times on camera as an actor or off camera as a director. His movies are parodies of current events within the scope of culture and public life and are characterized by situation comedy and caricatured individuals.

In 2018, Waalkes was awarded with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany First Class for his lifework.[12]

Discography[edit]

Year Title Chart Positions
DE AT CH EU
1973 Otto 1 - - -
1974 Otto (Die Zweite) 1 - - -
1975 Oh, Otto 2 3 - -
1976 Das 4. Programm 1 2 - -
1977 Das Wort zum Montag 4 5 - -
1978 Ottocolor 7 4 - -
1980 Der Ostfriesische Götterbote 2 11 - -
1981 Otto versaut Hamburg 7 4 - -
1983 Hilfe Otto kommt! 4 1 8 -
1995 Die CD - Das Allerbeste 55 - - -
1996 Das Live Album 11 14 12 -
1998 Einen Hab ich noch 28 49 41 -
2001 Ostfriesland und Mehr 40 - - -
2002 Only Otto 28 - - -
2003 Otto - Die DVD 40 - - -
2004 Otto - Die ersten 15 Jahre 71 - - -
2006 100 Jahre Otto - - 77 -
"Zwergensong" 12 - - 33*

Filmography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ von Gehlen, Dirk (8 November 2006). Who is Otto Waalkes?. guardian.co.uk The Guardian News and Media Limited.
  2. ^ "Ehe-Aus bei Otto Waalkes und Eva Hassmann". Die Welt (in German). 6 November 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Alles zum Thema: Otto Waalkes - GQ". 24 September 2015. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
  4. ^ Zeitung, Badische. "Otto Waalkes: Der Friesenjung - Panorama - Badische Zeitung". www.badische-zeitung.de (in German).
  5. ^ a b Geyer, Steven (1 July 2009). ""Jetzt mal im Ernst …"". Frankfurter Rundschau (in German).
  6. ^ "Lindenberg stellt Lindenberg aus". stern.de (in German). 15 October 2006.
  7. ^ SPIEGEL, DER. "Heimliche Hochzeit: Otto Waalkes und Eva Hassmann - DER SPIEGEL - Panorama". www.spiegel.de (in German).
  8. ^ "Komiker: Otto Waalkes führt mit seiner Frau eine offene Ehe". 21 July 2010.
  9. ^ Zeitung, Süddeutsche. "Schluss mit lustig". Süddeutsche.de (in German).
  10. ^ NACHRICHTEN, n-tv. "Waalkes und Hassmann getrennt". n-tv.de (in German).
  11. ^ Online, FOCUS. "Otto Waalkes und Eva Hassmann offiziell geschieden". FOCUS Online (in German).
  12. ^ "www.bundespraesident.de: Der Bundespräsident / Reisen und Termine / Ordensverleihung zum Tag der Deutschen Einheit". www.bundespraesident.de.

External links[edit]