Jan Böhmermann (born 23 February 1981) is a German satirist and television presenter. He has also worked as a comedy writer and producer.
Early life and education
Böhmermann was born and raised in Bremen. He enrolled to study history, sociology and theatre in Cologne, but dropped out before long. Previously, Böhmermann applied to drama schools in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich; he was rejected by all three. He was accepted at a fourth drama school in Hannover, but did not enroll.
In 1997, Böhmermann was hired as a columnist at the Bremen daily newspaper Die Norddeutsche. He joined Radio Bremen as a presenter in 1999, where he also had a stint as a comedy writer.
In 2015, he became known internationally for the satirical music video V for Varoufakis about the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. The clip is from Böhmermann's late-night show Neo Magazin Royale. His rap song Ich hab Polizei peaked at #10 in the German charts. However the song also caused considerable controversy: Journalists and rappers accused him of mocking lower-class people and also condoning police violence.
In 2016 he and Olli Schulz hosted a talk show called Schulz & Böhmermann, which is based on a former show Böhmermann co-hosted with Charlotte Roche in 2012.
"V for Varoufakis" video
In February 2015, Böhmermann's late-night show Neo Magazin Royale created the song and music video "V for Varoufakis". The title references V for Vendetta, which introduced the Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol of rebellion. In addition to poking fun at Germans generally, the video explores the German fascination with Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who is known for being articulate, physically attractive and having a stylish, if unconventional fashion sense, while also portraying Greece's dependence on German money during the Greek government-debt crisis. Unlike most content on the ZDF program Neo Magazin Royale, the song is in English and not in German.
The conclusion of the video shows an actual clip of Varoufakis in which he says "and stick the finger to Germany, and say 'well, you can now solve this problem for yourself'. Right?" The clip shows Varoufakis giving the finger, a gesture called "stinkefinger" in German. This clip had been taken out of context: Varoufakis had used a rhetorical example of what not to do. After the well-known TV host Günther Jauch confronted Varoufakis with the video clip in an interview (still out of context), German news media made the issue of Varoufakis giving Germany the finger into a minor scandal. The New York Times ran an article with the title "German Media Want Greek Finance Minister’s Head Over ‘Fingergate’". Varoufakis himself, presumably not remembering the specific speech but presumably knowing that he would never have given the finger in a non-ironical way, briefly falsely claimed that the video must be doctored. NZZ am Sonntag called for Günther Jauch to be fired for bad journalism.
In response to the claims of the middle finger being either fake or real, Böhmermann's Neo Magazine Royale created a false and manipulated, but convincing, version of the video clip labelled #varoufake,. which claimed to show that Varoufakis had not given the finger, and that the clip Neo Magazine Royale had used in "V for Varoufakis" was indeed a fabrication. At 8:10 in the video, Böhmermann briefly goes out of character and reverses claims by acknowledging the middle finger video as real, saying:
Dear editorial staff of Günther Jauch, Yanis Varoufakis is wrong, you did not falsify the footage. You simply took it out of context and gave him the runaround, so that the average German could pursue their passion for being angered. "Foreigner. Out of Europe you go!" "He's poor and takes our money. That's just not possible! We are the bosses in here!" That's what you did. The rest is our effort.
The #varoufake video caused confusion. The media were unclear as to which version was unmanipulated, and ZDF had to officially state the obvious fact that Neo Magazin Royale is satire and should not be taken at face value. Varoufakis himself praised Böhmermann's mockery of the German media on Twitter, writing "@janboehm Humour, satire & self deprecation are great solvents of blind nationalism. We politicians need you badly." Böhmermann won a prestigious Grimme-Preis award for the manipulated finger video.
Twenty people lodged a complaint because of a poem named "Schmähkritik" ("abusive criticism") Böhmermann presented in his satire show Neo Magazin Royale that was aired on the ZDF public channel on 31 March 2016. The proceedings instituted by the prosecutor's office for "insulting of organs and representatives of foreign states" are based on principles §103 and §104 in the German penal code. Böhmermann, among other things, called Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan “the man who beats girls”, and said that Erdogan loved to “fuck goats and suppress minorities, kick Kurds, hit Christians, and watch child pornography.” Much of the rest of the poem is devoted to associating Erdogan with various less accepted forms of sexuality. Böhmermann deliberately played with the limits of satire and said several times that this form of abusive criticism was not allowed in Germany. The poem was released two weeks after the German political satire TV show extra 3 had aired a critical song about Erdogan, which led to protests of the Turkish government.
The ZDF channel distanced itself from the poem and deleted it from the program which can be seen in its internet archives "Mediathek". After a phone call with the Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised the poem as "intentionally hurtful" ("bewusst verletzend"), and prosecutors in Mainz planned to consult the federal Justice Ministry on whether to launch criminal proceedings. The Turkish government released a verbal note in which it demands the criminal prosecution of Böhmermann. According to the law, the government has to approve the demand for criminal prosecution by the foreign government, before criminal proceedings can be started because of §103/104 StGB. Therefore Angela Merkel accepted the request from Turkey to seek his prosecution, but stressed that the acceptance was not due to the merits of the prosecution case. In addition, Erdogan himself made a complaint against Böhmermann as a private person because of the alleged insulting. The vice minister president of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmus, called the poem a "serious crime against humanity".
On 10 April the CEO of publishing house Axel Springer SE, Mathias Döpfner, made a plea for "solidarity with Jan Böhmermann". He compared Böhmermann's poem to the works of Martin Kippenberger. He also referenced Michel Houellebecq's Submission and accused the German government of kowtowing to the Turks. The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis wrote on Twitter: "Europe first lost its soul (agreement with Turkey on refugees), now it is losing its humour. Hands off @janboehm!" More than 100,000 people signed a petition for Böhmermann at Change.org. In a satirical letter to president Erdogan, the mayor of Tübingen, Boris Palmer (Alliance '90/The Greens), assured Erdogan his "solidarity" and demanded the extradition of Böhmermann to Turkey. "Cut off Böhmermann's testicles, so he never makes fun of presidents with a short dick again", he wrote. The letter is signed "most respectfully, Boris Palmer".
A YouGov poll revealed on 12 April, that a majority of the Germans supported Böhmermanns position. 48 percent of the pollees found the poem appropriate, 29 percent view it as undue. A great majority (66 percent) opposed the deletion of the poem on the ZDF website as well as Merkel's criticism of the poem as "intentionally hurtful" (68 percent). Only 15% support a criminal investigation, with 77% against.
On 12 April it was reported that Böhmermann is under police protection, because he was threatened by supporters of Erdogan. The filming of the upcoming edition of Neo Magazin Royale was cancelled due to "massive media reporting and the focus on the programme and the presenter". Böhmermann had also cancelled his radio show Sanft & Sorgfältig on Sunday and his appearance at the Grimme-Preis (Grimme Awards), where he was awarded for his Varoufakis video.
- 1999–2004: Radio Bremen
- 2009–2011: Die ganz große Jan Böhmermann Radioschau
- 2010–2013: Lateline
- 2011–2012: Zwei alte Hasen erzählen von früher, with Klaas Heufer-Umlauf
- 2012: Joko und Klaas mit Olli und Jan, with Olli Schulz
- 2012–2016: Sanft & Sorgfältig, with Olli Schulz
- since 2016: Fest & Flauschig (Spotify), with Olli Schulz
- 2007: Echt Böhmermann (WDR Fernsehen)
- 2009: TV Helden (RTL)
- 2012: Roche & Böhmermann (ZDFkultur), with Charlotte Roche
- 2012–2013: Lateline (EinsPlus)
- 2013–2014: Neo Magazin (ZDFneo)
- 2014: Was wäre, wenn? (RTL), with Palina Rojinski, Katrin Bauerfeind and Jan Köppen
- Since 2015: Neo Magazin Royale (ZDFneo, ZDF)
- Since 2016: Schulz & Böhmermann (ZDFneo), with Olli Schulz
- 2016: Alles, alles über Deutschland. Halbwissen kompakt. (Everything, everything about Germany. Superficial knowledge compact.) (Kiepenheuer & Witsch)
- 2005: Da Original Shaggä – Biddebaba. (G+H Hamburg)
- 2009: Lukas' Tagebuch live (Roof Music)
- 2009: Jan Böhmermann liest Alles, alles über Deutschland (Roof Music)
- 2013: Förderschulklassenfahrt (Roof Music), along with Klaas Heufer-Umlauf
- 2014: Förderschulklassenfahrt 2: Fünf Feinde und der Proletenhund (Roof Music), along with Klaas Heufer-Umlauf
- 2016: Neo Magazin Royale: Live in Concert
- 2015: "V for Varoufakis"
- 2015: "Mit wem war Mutti im Bett?" ("With whom was mummy in bed?")
- 2015: "Besoffen bei Facebook" ("Drunk at Facebook")
- 2015: "Baby Got Laugengebäck"
- 2015: "Ich hab Polizei" ("I have police"), as POL1Z1STENS0HN a.k.a. Jan Böhmermann
- 2016: "Be Deutsch!" ("Be German!")
- 2016: "Blasserdünnerjunge macht sein Job" ("Pale-skinny-boy does his job"), as POL1Z1STENS0HN a.k.a. Jan Böhmermann
- 2016: "Grab US by the pus sy"
- 2005: Boombastic Fantastic – ein Schmuseabend mit Da Original Shaggä, Comedy
- 2007: Lukas' Auswärtsspiel, Reading
- 2008: Lukas' Auswärtsspiel – Saison 2008/2009, Reading
- 2009: Lukas' Rückspiel – Saison 2008/2009, Reading
- 2009: Alles, alles über Deutschland, Lecture tour
- 2009: Die ganz große Jan Böhmermann Radio-Show, Comedy
- 2011: Zwei alte Hasen erzählen von früher, Comedy, along with Klaas Heufer-Umlauf
- 2014: Schlimmer als Jan Böhmermann, Cabaret/Comedy
- Since 2014: Die unwahrscheinlichen Ereignisse im Leben von …
- "Spotify". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
- 2009: Deutscher Fernsehpreis in the category Best Comedy for TV Helden
- 2013: Entertainment Journalist of the Year 2012 (Medium Magazin)
- 2013: Grimme-Preis nomination 2013 in the category Entertainment for Roche & Böhmermann
- 2014: Grimme-Preis 2014 in the category Entertainment for Neo Magazin
- 2014: Journalist of the Year in the category Entertainment/Culture
- 2016: Deutscher Fernsehpreis in the category Best Late Night Entertainment for Neo Magazin Royale
- 2016: Grimme-Preis 2016 in the category Entertainment/Special/Innovation for #Varoufake in the program Neo Magazin Royale
- 2016: Grimme Honor Award