U.K., Germany talk comedy

Delgation proves that laughs 'travel between cultures'

BERLIN — Teutonic comedy writers and producers joined colleagues from the U.K. for the first British-German Comedy Summit, held Saturday and Sunday at the British Embassy in Berlin.

With war protesters camped around the corner, participants had to cross police roadblocks and checkpoints in front of the embassy to attend the laffer workshop, which was sponsored by the U.K.’s Granada, in association with the British Council and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg.

A 10-member comedy “delegation” from the U.K. included producer Sue Vertue from Hartswood Film (“Mr. Bean”), writers Steven Moffat (“Coupling”) and Charlie Higson (“The Fast Show”), producer Jemma Rodgers (“The League of Gentlemen”) and Paul Jackson, director of international production and entertainment at Granada.

The German contingent included scribes Tommy Jaud and Chris Geletneky from broadcaster Sat.1’s “Ladykracher” and David Safier, writer on pubcaster ARD series “Berlin, Berlin.”

Focused on sitcom and format development and talent scouting, the forum gave participants the chance to exchange notes.

“We don’t buy the common notion that comedy cannot travel between cultures,” said Stefan Oelze, head of Granada’s German unit Granada Produktion fur Film und Fernsehen. “The success of British formats in German television is evidence that we can make it in the market with adaptations.”

Granada has adapted a number of international formats for German TV, including comedy sketch show “Hale & Pace,” known locally as “Mensch Markus,” on broadcaster Sat.1 and Blighty’s commercial channel ITV’s “Tarrant on TV” with Chris Tarrant, which became a vehicle for German comedian Mike Krueger known as “Krueger sieht alles” for RTL Television.

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