Dinner For One

Some things just don’t make sense. Or perhaps they are just weird  Which which can make them more fun.

New Year’s Eve, 2022, found my family together in Cairo. It was the first time in years, a decade or more, since we had all celebrated in the same location.

It was there I discovered a German tradition that I may make part of my annual celebrations. One that I missed completely when I lived in Germany. Apparently, at some point on New Year’s Eve, German families gather together and watch a short television film, Dinner For One.

My first thought was that perhaps this was a localized thing from the area where my hosts lived. It seemed strange that German television would be broadcasting an English-language black and white film every New Year’s Eve. Bothe husband and wife were adamant that their families had watched it every year while they were growing up, and looking online I see that it really is a tradition.

If you clicked on the video link above you will have heard a short German-language introduction, and the rest of the film is in English. But you don’t need to understand the language to appreciate what is going on.

Humor is such an individual thing. What one person finds funny another may find silly, or even offensive. For my hosts this was must-see television. For me it brought back memories of the days when alcohol jokes were funny. Think Red Skelton, or some of Dick Van Dyke’s routines. And I’m sure others before them.

I didn’t find Dinner For One all that amusing. There was a certain sadness to it also, one that I might not have caught when I was younger. Age also impacts our perceptions of what is funny.

I’ve given you the German TV version, so I’ll turn to Wikipedia to set the stage: Heinz Piper introduces the story as the conferencier: Miss Sophie (Warden) is celebrating her 90th birthday. As every year, she has invited her four closest friends to a birthday dinner: Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider, Mr. Pomeroy, and Mr. Winterbottom. However, she has outlived all of them, requiring her butler James (Frinton) to impersonate the guests.

Watch the film – it is just over 15 minutes – and tell me what you think. Do you find it funny? It’s a big deal in a lot of countries, but not ones where the first language is English. Which is so bizarre for an English-language film.

I look forward to your comments. And if you know of similar gems, share them.


One comment

  1. I can confirm that watching this little film is a huge tradition in Germany. Not sure if the younger generation is still doing it, but every New Year’s Eve, when we were with friends, everything would literally stop at about 7:55 pm and the TV was turned on. Everyone gathered around and watched it as if for the first time. Even the meal was planned around it.

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