Vicco von Buelow, who for decades made Germans laugh by making fun of Teutonic idiosyncrasies, died of natural causes in his hometown of Ammerland in Bavaria on Monday, Aug. 22. He was 87.
Better known as Loriot, the comedian has been a household name since the 1960s, having attracted a huge following through cartoons, TV sketches and films.
“Loriot’s death was absolutely unnecessary,” wrote German weekly Der Spiegel. “He had long since become immortal. And will remain so.”
He was lauded by the nation’s Die Zeit weekly as a German cultural figure on a par with classical writers Friedrich Schiller or Wolfgang Goethe.
Loriot poked fun at German quirks, finding great amusement in the fussiness and excessive formality of Germany’s post-war middle class. His humorous observations remain relevant and funny to Germany’s modern auds and Loriot’s popularity has endured as a result.
Comedian, actor and filmmaker Michael Herbig added, “Loriot was the Fred Astaire among the humorists. His humor remains immortal.”
Pubcasters ARD and ZDF altered their primetime programming on Tuesday night in honor of Loriot. While ZDF devoted a talkshow to the comedian, ARD aired the 1991 comedy feature “Pappa Ante Portas,” which von Buelow wrote, directed and starred in. The pic attracted 1.94 million viewers and a strong 13.2% market share. ARD followed with a number of TV sketches, which likewise drew major auds.
Born into an aristocratic German family north of Berlin in 1923, von Buelow started out drawing cartoons in the 1950s for the national magazine Stern.
Two decades later, he adopted the name “Loriot,” French for oriole, from the bird pictured on his family’s coat of arms. He created a cartoon dog called “Wum,” whose popularity sparked a career that went on to include several TV cartoon series, songs and more than 50 books.
Von Buelow’s enormous popularity is reflected in a number of colloquial phrases that have seeped into everyday speech, including the expression of surprise or confusion “Ach, was!” or “yodel diploma,” to describe a worthless educational degree.
Von Buelow was decorated with several of Germany’s most important literary awards.