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In “Wetten dass ..?” our entire society is negotiated

Well, somehow Thomas Gottschalk lisped, writes the Internet.

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In “Wetten dass ..?” our entire society is negotiated

Well, somehow Thomas Gottschalk lisped, writes the Internet. And he got slower. Doesn't get every gag anymore and doesn't keep track of everything that's happening around him. It doesn't matter, nobody else can, neither the guests nor the television viewers. With “Wetten, dass ..?”, who is interested in little things like who has to redeem their “bet” when and under what circumstances? Or may? And of course Gottschalk is vain in a way that you can only forgive the otherwise funny uncle at the family party, who every time tells the story of how he once shook hands with Franz Beckenbauer or was at a status quo concert in 1972.

The way he comes onto the stage, grinning, mouth half open and wallowing in the thunderous applause of the Friedrichshafen Allzweckhallensaal audience, for minutes! Actually hard about it. Gottschalk, the show staircase that has become human. "It's just me," he says, but of course that's not a gesture of modesty, but a cheer. He was never really subtle, but now, in his old age, he just throws the truth out. “Scholz was here this morning, me tonight. You guys from Friedrichshafen know how to get better.” More applause.

Well, it has to go on somehow, so he strolls across the stage and waits to see what happens, and soon Michelle Hunziker is there too, in a dress, Swinging Sixties on top, Bridgerton on the bottom. Pink. Gottschalk wears a red and black leopard suit by Versace. Everything clashes, nothing has been agreed. Gottschalk doesn't rehearse, he's never done that before, but floats in at some point on Thursday before the show, has everything explained to him and yet doesn't listen.

He's completely on his own. He knows: he is the show, "Wetten dass ..?" the good old days in constant comparison to everything new. Everyone else is, everything else is muzak, elevator music, eye confetti - the same ingredients in a soup that everyone still likes: the international superstar, the national superstar, the provincial musical and some newcomer with thirteen mega trillion views, clicks, followers somewhere in this superlative machine, the internet can also sing.

It doesn't matter whether Iris Berben or Veronika Ferres is sitting on the couch. The main thing is that the hot daughter ("Lilly") and John Malkovic are there. Two nice women's soccer players (men weren't available because of the World Cup). Bully Herbig and Christoph Maria Herbst. They all have something for sale, a movie or two, another TV series. Trailers are played, which everyone who has been to the cinema in the last five months already knows. No, no, the German film animators are in no way inferior to the American ones. Or bully? No, says Bully. Absolutely not. "It's so nice to go to the cinema," crows the Hunziker.

At first glance, hardly anything has changed in the program, which is mantra-like described as the "last campfire", as the only media consensus hours of Germany, divided vertically by age. And not for 30 years. Everything just got a size smaller. In the mid-90s, I was “on site” as a reporter on almost every show. Michael Jackson's comeback, "Take That's" final appearance. At that time there was something like that on “Wetten, dass ..?” on a monthly basis.

The fact that this is no longer enough today has less to do with the dwindling importance of the show than with the world itself. The channels are different: faster, more direct, more digital. Why should a politician - once always from the couch party - sit down in a show that is actually three hours long and feels like three days in order to land a gag that a tweet is enough for today?

no In the end it's still Gottschalk who rocks the show. When the best television questioner in the republic, Markus Lanz, took over from him, he failed because of his claim to perfection. Gottschalk, in his almost arrogant sloppiness, which he disguises as chasing live momentum, is brilliant for this tightrope act. It's best when everything is on the verge of total dissolution, chaos, no one knows what's going to happen next and therefore anything can happen.

Then Gottschalk turns up the heat: In the usual erratic final phase of the show, he freed himself from the cousin-like and well-intentioned security grip of the Hunziker used by ZDF as a watchdog (who had to take a lot, a lot and endured it with flying colors) and just hit things like that Out. When she moderated the lack of tension in a lame bike bet with all seriousness: "She breathes in. That's normal," he countered: "Now she's breathing out." Or, when Herbert Grönemeyer, who protested something statically as a memorial to himself, apologized on the couch for not being able to breathe, Gottschalk dried him with " That comes from dancing”.

So: a proven mixture with the main ingredient Gottschalk? Yes. And yet much more. In fact, this annual return of Wetten, dass..? is fascinating television. So important that it was to remain the only public service entertainment program after the revolution. It is, bold statement, please don't laugh, systemically important. Because this is where the main lines of social development are negotiated.

"Wetten, dass ..?" is a scientific experiment and the arrangement is like this: You put people from the 90s in the present and let them wonder properly. How will they react when a woman drives an excavator - and in heels at that? Gottschalk (and Hunziker) were amazed and celebrated as a matter of course as a great miracle.

Situations will arise in which it is taken for granted that family constellations in excavator clans are such that the father is a role model for the daughter and the daughter is proud of the father when, in teamwork, you poke eggs with a 1000-ton shovel. What question do you ask the mother of a 21-year-old daughter today? Certainly not: "And if Lily arrives with a guy - do you have a say?" That was what Gottschalk actually asked. The discussion in front of the television is programmed.

Gottschalk is amazed that a 19-year-old singer can have "a really good voice, as experts assured me", although she may not know who Peter Maffay is. The (warning, devil's word!) "influencer girls" Lena and Lisa are so charming, quick-witted and easy-going that "Thommy" - confronted with his prejudices live for the first time - turns his opinion 180 degrees.

"Wetten dass ..?", in other words Thomas Gottschalk's work, has matured into an institution of constant comparison between an allegedly better yesterday and a fundamentally questionable today. John Malkovic may have been somewhat taken aback, but he was able to learn a great deal about Germany. About the strengths of allowing this comparison, but also about what is still missing.

A clip-tied climate activist from Lützerath, which was to be dredged away, started with a pretty cool and surprising bet. Although everyone on stage was hysterical all the time that he should please reveal his trick after the work was done, nobody listened to the somewhat scientific (but surprisingly simple) explanation. It was also not worth asking that if he won, he would donate his 50,000 euros to an initiative to preserve his village.

But the audience was on the ball. They chose the activist and Lützerath by a wide margin in first place and as the betting king. Germany 2022. When in doubt, the future is more exciting than yesterday, even if there seemed to have been more tinsel back then. But Robbie Williams' weak performance showed that nostalgia is a nice, warming feeling. But she has no quality.

"Wetten dass ..?", the biggest and best and most important and only German show, is now moving in this area of ​​tension. It doesn't matter if Gottschalk lisps. No matter who is on stage or sitting on the sofa. In fact, only staffage. Our society is negotiated.

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