Dinner for one

James: The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie: The same procedure as every year, James!

The same procedure as every year:
11.500.000 hits on Google
. 57.200 hits on German pages, alone.

A sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie in the 1920s, the German TV station Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) recorded “Dinner for One” with Freddie Frinton and May Warden to be broadcast on New Year’s Eve in 1963. This English (!) performance has since become the most frequently repeated TV program ever in Germany, and (if Wikipedia is to be believed) in the world. Entire dialog here.

Good-bye, and good riddance, to the Naughties. I have a grammar quiz of the decade at Spotlight.

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

12 thoughts on “Dinner for one”

  1. Thanks for this Anne. It’s clearly so well known, but I don’t remember ever seeing it before. Happy new year and hope the nasty nougties turn into terrific teens for you
    .

  2. I had never seen this before either. I don’t find it funny : rather sad, really. I find it interesting though, it made me think about what is experienced as funny and what is not, and why.

  3. It makes me think, too. It doesn’t have the lightheartedness of older slapstick pieces, but perhaps the sheer fact of its repetitiveness makes it funny, particularly if it’s not your native tongue.
    People used to say that Germans enjoyed it because of some native “Schadenfreude”, which supposedly other nationals didn’t have. I think that’s been disproven by all those shows on US and other national TVs that gloat when people stumble and fall and otherwise make a fool of themselves. I’ll have to ask my husband what he thinks.

  4. Ah yes, there’s very little comedy that doesn’t date.

    I rather doubt slapstick would be more popular in Germany than elsewhere. Do you remember the Richard Wiseman study from a few years back into the World’s funniest joke? Think he found Germans were very open minded when it came to jokes. Ah, here’s the reference:
    http://www.laughlab.co.uk/

  5. ‘Dinner for One’ does prove one thing for sure though – repetition is the secret of success.
    Most Germans never miss it on TV on New Year’s Eve and if you utter the words “same procedure”, even in an English beginners class, you’ll get a chorus of “as every year, Miss Sophie” in reply.
    I might even watch it tonight — for the first time since New Year’s 85 at a friend’s place in Berlin.

    Have a great ‘skid’ into the new year and a wonderful 2010 to you Anne and to all.
    Joan

  6. I’m not sure one can say that the Germans are unable to produce top humour.
    karl valentin was certainly top, then there’s that guy who did the noodle sketch – whose name i have forgotten (loriot?) -but i won’t stone you.

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