Heute schon gelacht? 



A brief summary




Cabaret was born on the 18th of November 1881, when Rudolphe Salis opened his "Chat noir", a cabaret artistique, on Montmartre, Paris. His intention can be summed up as follows: "We will satirize political events, enlighten mankind, confront it with its stupidity, cure those creeps of their ill- temper…" (Rudolf Hösch, Kabarett von gestern. Berlin 1967, p. 19)
The official birthday of cabaret can be traced back to the 18th of January 1901, when Ernst von Wolzogen opened "Das Bunte Theater" ("The Mottled Theatre") in Berlin, better known as "Überbrettl" ("Overstage"), which served as a model for Austrian cabaret.
On the 16th of November 1901 the writer and drama-critic Felix Salten opened the "Theater zum lieben Augustin" in the "Theater an der Wien" but it only ran a few shows. The revival of the literary cabaret in Vienna didn't start until 1906 when Marc Henry, Marya Delvard and Hannes Ruch opened the "Cabaret Nachtlicht" ("Nightlight Cabaret") in Ballgasse, after Munich's "Elf Scharfrichter" ("Eleven Executioners") which was founded in April 1901 came to an end. The programme was a mixture from the repertoires of the "Scharfrichter" and Viennese authors and performers such as Otto Julius Bierbaum, Frank Wedekind, Erich Mühsam, Peter Altenberg, Roda Roda, Egon Friedell, Carl Hollitzer and Gertrude Barrison. Karl Kraus too sympathized with the "Nachtlicht" at the beginning. But only after a little more than a year it closed its doors.
Soon there was a new sensation however. In October 1907 the theatre and cabaret "Fledermaus" ("The Bat") opened in Kärntnerstraße and was an artwork in itself. Both the interior décor and the props of this "Art Nouveau-Cabaret" were from the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop). Once again the artistic director was Marc Henry and this time there was more of a Viennese touch to the programme. The cast and crew included Marya Delvard, Peter Altenberg, Lina Vetter-Loos, Alfred Polgar, Oscar Straus, Carl Hollitzer, Oskar Kokoschka, Roda Roda and Egon Friedell, who later became artistic director. However, the "Fledermaus" did not last long as a literary cabaret and became the revue-theatre "Femina" in 1913.



In October 1912 Egon Dorn opened the "Simplicissimus" as a restaurant with entertainment. Generally performers were engaged on a one month basis to perform skits, and particularly successful acts were given extended contracts.
The individual acts - chansons, piano-humorists, quick sketch artists, parodists, magicians, reciters - were introduced by emcees who kept the show together, such as Richard Hutter, Paul Morgan and Fritz Grünbaum, who had had his break-through in 1906 in "Die Hölle" ("Hell"). Another feature of the "Simpl" were the composer-performer duos such as Bela Laszky/Mella Mars, Robert Stolz/Franzi Ressel and Ralph Benatzky/Josma Selim. Other featured performers were Lina Loos, Egon Friedell, Hermann Leopoldi, and Armin Berg.
In the 20ies, Fritz Grünbaum and Karl Farkas were very successful at the "Simpl", with their double act. Although Grünbaum and Farkas did not invent the double act, they did bring it to its height in the German-speaking countries. It was also they who brought revue to the "Simpl".
In 1938 Farkas managed to escape the Nazi regime, but Grünbaum died in the concentration camp Dachau, a fate suffered by thousands of people under this regime.
After the forced closing of theatres under the Nazis in 1944, the "Simpl" went on playing and experienced in 1950 another heyday with the return of Karl Farkas as emcee, writer, actor, producer and artistic director. Farkas now wrote the revues, together with Hugo Wiener, who also wrote the double acts performed by Farkas and Ernst Waldbrunn. Cissy Kraner, Elly Naschhold, Henriette Ahlsen, Maxi Böhm, Fritz Muliar, Heinz Conrads, Fritz Heller, Ossy Kolmann, Karl Hruschka and others also belonged to the Simpl ensemble. In 1965 the husband-and-wife team, Kraner-Wiener, left the "Simpl" after a disagreement with Farkas, but were to come back for a short spell in 1971, following Farkas' death.
In 1974 Martin Flossmann settled into Wollzeile street with his cabaret "Der bunte Wagen" ("The mottled wagon"). His ensemble consisted of Tamara Stadnikow, Hans Harapat, Louis Strasser, Edith Leyrer and Kurt Sobotka among others. In 1993 he passed the "Simpl" on to Michael Niavarani, the current director.


Political cabaret & Jewish-political cabaret in Vienna

Political and social circumstances led to the founding of the Political Cabaret and the "Jewish-Political Cabaret" in 1927, the former producing 13 shows against the opposition in the years 1927 to 1933. The texts were written by a group of authors including Viktor Grünbaum (Victor Gruen, becoming famous as an architect especially for planning shopping towns in the U.S.A.) Robert Ehrenzweig (Robert Lucas), Karl Bittmann, Jura Soyfer and Edmund Reismann, later director of "Die Roten Spieler" ("The Red Players").

The "Jewish-Political Cabaret" was founded by Oscar Teller and Victor Schlesinger as a zionist cabaret and had to close in 1938, like many other cabarets and revue companies.


Literary-political cabaret and literary "Kleinkunst" of the 30ies

In the 30ies, the term "Kleinkunst" was used intentionally to distance it from cabaret and revue theatres whose shows were for pure amusement.
In 1931, Stella Kadmon opened "Der Liebe Augustin" as a literary cabaret in the basement of "Café Prückel". Her crew consisted of Peter Hammerschlag as writer, Alex Szekely as caricaturist and Fritz Spielmann as composer and pianist. They started out with a mixed bag of improvisational flash poems by Hammerschlag, drawings by Szekely, literary parodies and burlesque dances. From 1933 onwards "Der Liebe Augustin" changed its style in keeping with the political situation. From now on Tucholsky and Kästner were also performed and Gerhart Herrmann Mostar and Hugo F. Koenigsgarten became the resident writers. The original multiple act show format was also changed with the gradual introduction of one-act plays and the Mittelstück or playlet (a 30 to 40 minute one-act). The ensemble consisted of Gusti Wolf, Herbert Berghof, Leo Aschkenazy (Leon Askin), Fritz Muliar, Fritz Eckhart and others. On the 10th of March 1938 "Der Liebe Augustin" was forced to close. It was revived in 1945 by Fritz Eckhardt and Carl Merz, and later taken over by Stella Kadmon on her return from exile in 1947. One year later she changed it into a theatre and changed the name to "Theater der Courage" ("Theatre of Courage").

The next literary-political cabaret, "Die Stachelbeere" ("The Gooseberry") of which Rudolf Spitz was director was founded in the summer of 1933 by a group called the "Bund junger Autoren Österreichs" ("Association of young Austrian writers"). "Die Stachelbeere" was originally housed in the Café Döblingerhof in Vienna's 19th District, and later moved to the Café Colonnaden, at Rathausplatz. Its writers were Spitz, who also worked as emcee, Hans Weigel and Josef Pechacek. The original improvisatorial character soon developed to one-act plays and playlets. The "Stachelbeere" was more political, more aggressive and sharper than the "Literatur am Naschmarkt", another venture of the "Bund junger Autoren Österreichs", set up in November 1933 in Café Dobner. The "Stachelbeere" was closed in 1935 as the writers were not able to continue writing for two stages.

The founders of the "Literatur am Naschmarkt", Rudolf Weys und F. W. Stein, now aimed at a mixture between theatre and "Brettl", and developed the Mittelstück, or playlet (litarally "middle-piece"). The Mittelstück was so called because it was performed between the two customary refreshment breaks. The writers included Hans Weigel, Lothar Metzl, Jura Soyfer, Kurt Nachmann, Rudolf Spitz or Peter Hammerschlag, and the actors included Carl Merz, Herbert Berghof, Hugo Gottschlich, Heidemarie Hatheyer, Hilde Krahl, Elisabeth Neumann and many others. By the 12th of March 1938 "Literatur am Naschmarkt" had produced 22 shows. The "Aryan wing" of the ensemble then moved on to the "Wiener Werkel".

Vienna's most politically sharp cabaret stage was the "ABC" ("Brettl on the Alsergrund") in the Café City on Porzellangasse which opened its doors in 1934. Up to 1938 Leo Aschkenazy, Franz Paul, Rudolf Steinboeck, Fritz Eckhardt, Jimmy Berg, Peter Hammerschlag, Gerhart Herrmann Mostar, Hugo F. Koenigsgarten, Hans Weigel, Cissy Kraner, Josef Meinrad, Hans Sklenka and Jura Soyfer performed there. Soyfer's playlets are still performed today. (Sound sample from "Der Weltuntergang" ("The End of the World") by Jura Soyfer, Leon Askin: "Kometensong")


"Wiener Werkel"
("Viennese hurdy-gurdy")

At the beginning of 1939 "Wiener Werkel" developed from the "Aryan wing" of "Literatur am Naschmarkt" and was opened by Adolf Müller-Reitzner in Liliengasse. The non-jewish writers and actors continued to impart their socially critical message in their work, among them Rudolf Weys, Franz Paul, Hugo Gottschlich, Josef Meinrad, Rolf Olsen and Christl Räntz. Fritz Eckhardt and Kurt Nachmann also contributed texts under aliases.



In 1938, Jewish authors, musicians, actors and their audiences were forced into exile. Many of them founded cabarets and theatres in their new places of domicile.
Two important examples of these theatres in London were the "Blue Danube Club" directed by Peter Herz and the "Laterndl" ("Little Lantern"), which was founded in 1939. As early as 1938, Viktor Grünbaum had founded the "Viennese Theatre Group" in New York. Oscar Teller founded the "Arche" ("The Ark"), with actors like Jimmy Berg, Victor Schlesinger and Fritz Spielmann, also in New York. The theatre "Freie Bühne" ("The Free Theatre") was founded in 1939 In Los Angeles, staging mainly light entertainment plays. Karl Farkas performed in the USA together with Armin Berg and Kurt Robitschek. Georg Kreisler worked there as a pianist and composer. In Australia the "Viennese Little Theatre" emerged. The actress Stella Kadmon and the cabaret artist Gerhard Bronner emigrated to Palestine.

Post-war cabaret

The post-war period brought a multitude of new cabarets. For the first time they spread farther than Vienna, to the regional capitals Graz ("Der Igel" - "The Hedgehog"), Linz ("Kabarett Eulenspiegel") and Innsbruck ("Kleines Welttheater" - "Little World Theatre"). The most successful post-war Viennese cabaret theatre was "Das kleine Brettl" - "The Little Stage"), founded by Rolf Olsen. The "Simpl" and "Der liebe Augustin" celebrated their reopening. The socialist students were also active again in the post-war period, founding another cabaret, "Der Rote Hund" ("The Red Dog").


Cabaret in the 50ies

Not until the beginning of the 50ies were ensembles established again. Two of these were Karl Farkas' "Simpl" ensemble and the Bronner/Merz/Qualtinger ensemble whose members included Kehlmann/Kreisler/Wehle. The latter, despite not having an official name, played a significant role in the scene.

In 1952 the Bronner/Kehlmann/Merz/Qualtinger ensemble put on their first show, entitled "Brettl vor'm Kopf" ("not to be able to think straight" - lit. to have a board in front of one's head"). New about this cabaret was the fact that the cabaretists on stage were also the writers, composers and musicians themselves. Carl Merz acted as emcee. A new show, "Blattl vor'm Mund" ("to mince words" - lit. "to have a leaf in front of one's mouth") started in 1956, this time with Georg Kreisler and Peter Wehle; Kehlmann had left to Germany. "Glasl vor'm Aug" (lit. "to have glass in front of one's eye") followed in 1957. In 1958 the ensemble, which had suddenly found itself without a theatre, was featured on TV with the show "Spiegel vor'm G'sicht" (lit. "to have a mirror in front of one's face"). The show met with unexpected success reaching a new audience. In 1959 the troupe moved into "Das Neue Theater am Kärntnertor" ("The New Theatre at Kärntnertor"), which had been taken over by Gerhard Bronner, producing "Dachl über'm Kopf" ("roof over one's head") and "Hackl vor'm Kreuz" ("an axe in front of one's back").
The ensemble included Louise Martini, Eva Pilz, Kurt Jaggberg and Johann Sklenka. Many of Bronner's chansons from this time have become famous thanks to Qualtinger: "Der g'schupfte Ferdl", "Der Bundesbahnblues" ("Federal Railways Blues"), "Der Halbwilde" ("The half savage") and "Der Papa wird's scho richten" ("Daddy will sort it out"). Merz and Qualtinger's Travnicek texts were also made famous by Bronner and Qualtinger.
In 1961, Qualtinger moved away from cabaret, co-writing the one-man play "Der Herr Karl" ("Mister Karl") with Carl Merz.


"Der Würfel"
("The Dice")

Gerhard Bronner brought the Graz students' cabaret "Der Würfel" to his theatre, "Das Neue Theater am Kärntnertor", in Vienna. "Der Würfel" which had been founded in 1958 by Kuno Knöbl, consisted among others of Dieter Gogg, Uno Simontisch, Gerhard Steffen and Peter Orthofer. Later when "Der Würfel" broke up, some ensemble members were engaged by Bronner, forming the new "Kärntnertor-Ensemble" with Peter Lodynski, Eva Pilz, Mirjam Dreifuss and others.
In 1963, Lodynski and Knöbl parted company with Bronner opening their own cabaret, again called "Der Würfel", in the basement of the Café Savoy in Himmelpfortgasse. The new "Würfel" soon made a name for itself as an avantgarde-cabaret with a satirical take on the surreal and the absurd. Among the ensemble members were Dieter Gogg, Mirjam Dreifuss, Günter Tolar, Felix Dvorak and also Cissy Kraner, Hugo Wiener, Herwig Seeböck. "Der Würfel" broke up in 1969 with many of the ensemble members finding work with the Austrian public broadcasting company, ORF.

The revival of political and socio-critical cabaret

The 70ies started with a period of silence in the area of cabaret. Apart from a few cabaret ensembles here and there, the radio programme "Funkbrettl" ("Radiostage"), the series "Farkas-Bilanzen" and other TV cabaret programmes, there was no real cabaret scene in Austria.
"Kabarett Keif" ("Cabaret Nag") filled this vacuum in 1974. Erwin Steinhauer, Erich Demmer and Wolfgang Teuschl were the protagonists, joined later by Lukas Resetarits. "Kabarett Keif" did not last long however, but it paved the way for a new kind of cabaret - in both form and content.
After the "Keif" broke up, Lukas Resetarits went his own way and next to Otto Grünmandl became one of Austria's first solo-cabaret artists.
A new development at this time was the combination of cabaret & rock music, as performed for example by "Die Schmetterlinge" ("The Butterflies") and the early "EAV" ("Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung" - "First General Uninsurance").

In Salzburg, Fratt & Schachenreiter went their own Kleinkunst-way. A "scene" started to develop at the beginning of the 80ies in Graz that produced male and female cabaret artists and theatres, as well as a cabaret competition. In Vienna it was the group "Schlabarett" that brought a new form to cabaret - the cabaret play. And for the first time women appeared on stage performing their own texts.


Contemporary cabaret

In the 80ies, cabaret, as all other fields, was hit by commercialisation, and experienced a boom. New stages came into being and cabaret artists and their shows were packaged by organisers and managers. Cabaret and Kleinkunst awards and festivals were created to bring cabaret more into the public eye.
Innumerable cabaret ensembles, soloists and theatres have come up since then and in the 90ies, the German comedy-wave began to roll onto the independent Austrian cabaret-scene.

For further information on contemporary cabaret go to
http://www.kabarett.cc and http://www.kabarett.at

© Österreichisches Kabarettarchiv


Literaturliste zur Kabarettgeschichte
Eine Auswahl

APPIGNANESI, Lisa, Das Kabarett. Mit e. Vorw. v. Werner Finck. Belser Vlg., Stuttgart 1976.

BEMANN, Helga, Berliner Musenkinder-Memoiren. Eine heitere Chronik von 1900-1930. Lied der Zeit Musikverlag, Berlin 1987.

BEMMANN, Helga (Hrsg.), Mitgelacht dabeigewesen. Erinnerungen aus sieben Jahrzehnten Kabarett. 3. erw. Aufl. Henschel, Berlin 1973.

BOLBECHER, Siglinde u. Konstantin KAISER, Lexikon der österreichischen Exilliteratur. Deuticke, Wien-München 2000.

BREMMER, Jan und Hermann ROODENBURG (Hrsg.), Kulturgeschichte des Humors. Von der Antike bis heute. Primus Vlg., Darmstadt 1999.

BUDZINSKI, Klaus, Pfeffer ins Getriebe. Ein Streifzug durch 100 Jahre Kabarett. Heyne, München 1984.

BUDZINSKI, Klaus u. Reinhard HIPPEN in Verbindung m. d. Dt. Kabarettarchiv, Metzler Kabarett Lexikon. Metzler, Stuttgart-Weimar 1996.

DEISSNER-JENSSEN, Frauke (Hrsg.), Die zehnte Muse. Kabarettisten erzählen. Henschel, Berlin 1982.

DOLL, Jürgen, Theater im Roten Wien. Vom sozialdemokratischen Agitprop zum dialektischen Theater Jura Soyfer. Böhlau, Wien-Köln-Weinmar 1997.

FINK, Iris, Von Travnicek bis Hinterholz 8. Kabarett in Österreich ab 1945 - von A bis Zugabe. Styria, Graz-Wien-Köln 2000.

FINK, Iris / Hans VEIGL (Hg.), Lukas Resetarits "Es ist bitte Folgendes …". Kremayr & Scheriau, Wien 2007.

FINK, Iris / Hans VEIGL, Des Sängers Fluch. Am 16. November 1901 eröffnete Felix Salten das "Jung-Wiener Theater zum lieben Augustin". 100 Jahre österreichisches Kabarett (= Mitteilungen des Österreichischen Kabarett-Archivs, Heft 1). Eigenverlag Österreichisches Kabarett-Archiv, Graz-Wien 2001. 3. verb. Aufl., Straden 2008.

FLEISCHER, Michael, Eine Theorie des Kabaretts. Versuch einer Gattungsbeschreibung (an deutschem und polnischem Material). Brockmeyer, Bochum 1989.

GLEITSMANN, Sylvia, Carl Merz. Diss., Univ. Wien 1987.

GREUL, Heinz, Bretter, die die Zeit bedeuten. Die Kulturgeschichte des Kabaretts. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln-Berlin 1967.

GUILBERT, Yvette, Die Kunst, ein Chanson zu singen. (L'Art de chanter uns chanson). Hrsg. v. Walter Rösler. Aus d. Frz. übertr. v. Thomas Dobberkau. Mit zehn Chansons aus dem Repertoire der Yvette Guilbert in Nachdichtgen v. Bettina Wegner. Henschel, Berlin 1981.

HAIDER-PREGLER, Hilde / Beate REITERER (Hg.), Verspielte Zeit. Österreichisches Theater der dreißiger Jahre. Picus, Wien 1997.

HAIDER-PREGLER, Hilde / Peter ROESSLER (Hg.), Zeit der Befreiung. Picus, Wien 1998.

HAYBÄCK, Eva Maria, Der Wiener "Simplicissimus" 1912-1974. Versuch einer Analyse des Kabaretts mit längster Bestandzeit im deutschen Sprachraum. Wien, Univ., Diss., 1976. 2 Bde.

HENNINGSEN, Jürgen, Theorie des Kabaretts. Henn, Rattingen 1967.

HIPPEN, Reinhard - Deutsches Kabarett Archiv (Hrsg.), "Sich fügen - heißt lügen". 80 Jahre deutsches Kabarett. Vlg. Druckhaus Schmidt & Bödige, Mainz 1981.

HIPPEN, Reinhard, Erklügelte Nervenkultur. Kabarett der Neopathetiker und Dadaisten (= Kabarettgeschichte-n, Bd. 4). Pendo-Vlg., Zürich 1991.

HIPPEN, Reinhard, Es liegt in der Luft. Kabarett im Dritten Reich (= Kabarettgeschichte-n, Bd. 13). Pendo-Vlg., Zürich 1988.

HIPPEN, Reinhard, Kabarett der spitzen Feder. Streit-Zeitschriften (= Kabarettgeschichte-n, Bd. 9). Pendo-Vlg., Zürich 1986.

HIPPEN, Reinhard (Hrsg.), Satire gegen Hitler. Kabarett im Exil. (= Kabarettgeschichte-n, Bd. 14). pendo-Vlg., Zürich 1986.

HIPPEN, Reinhard, Das Kabarett-Chanson. Typen, Themen, Temperamente (= Kabarettgeschichte-n, Bd. 10). Pendo-Vlg., Zürich 1986.

HÖSCH, Rudolf, Kabarett von gestern nach zeitgenössischen Berichten, Kritiken und Erinnerungen. Bd. I: 1900-1933. 2. verb. Aufl. Henschel, Berlin 1969.

HÖSCH, Rudolf, Kabarett von gestern und heute nach zeitgenössischen Berichten, Kritiken, Texten und Erinnerungen. Bd. II: 1933-1970. Henschel, Berlin 1972.

JARKA, Horst, Jura Soyfer. Leben, Werk, Zeit. Mit e. Vw. v. Hans Weigel. Löcker, Wien 1987.

JATZEK, Gerald u. Philipp MAURER, Widerrede. Die KABARETTung Österreichs + Kabarett selber machen. Hrsg. v.d. Kammer f. Arbeiter u. Angestellte f. Wien in Zusammenarb. m.d. Österr. Gewerkschaftsjugend. Vlg. d. Österr. Gewerkschaftsbundes, Wien 1989.

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KÜHN, Volker, Die zehnte Muse. 111 Jahre Kabarett. vgs vlgsges., Köln 1993.

LANG, Birgit, Eine Fahrt ins Blaue. Deutschsprachiges Theater und Kabarett im australischen Exil und Nach-Exil (1933-1988) (= Amsterdamer Publikationen zur Sprache und Literatur, 163). Weidler Buchverlag, Berlin 2006.

LANG, Manfred, Kleinkunst im Widerstand. Das "Wiener Werkel". Das Kabarett im Dritten Reich. Diss., Univ. Wien 1967.

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VEIGL, Hans, Lachen im Keller. Von den Budapestern zum Wiener Werkel. Kabarett und Kleinkunst in Wien. Löcker, Wien 1986. 

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VEIGL, Hans (Hg.), Karl Farkas. Ins eigene Nest. Wien, Kremayr & Scheriau 1988, 1989, 1991.

VEIGL, Hans (Hg.), Armin Berg. Der Mann mit dem Überzieher. Wien, Kremayr & Scheriau 1990.

VEIGL, Hans (Hg.), Fritz Grünbaum. Der leise Weise. Wien, Kremayr & Scheriau 1992.

VEIGL, Hans (Hg.), Luftmenschen spielen Theater. Jüdisches Kabarett in Wien 1890 1938. Wien, Kremayr & Scheriau 1992.

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VEIGL, Hans (Hg.), Nachtlichter. Sezessionistisches Kabarett. Wien, Kremayr & Scheriau 1993.

VEIGL, Hans (Hg.), Bombenstimmung. Das Wiener Werkel. Kabarett im Dritten Reich. Wien, Kremayr & Scheriau 1994.

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