Michael Mittermeier on his new book, GNTM and the heroes of his childhood

comedian and author
Michael Mittermeier on GNTM, gray hair and the heroes of his childhood

Comedian Michael Mittermeier during an appearance on the MDR talk show “Riverboat”

© Thomas Schulze / Picture Alliance

Michael Mittermeier is one of the most successful stand-up comedians in Germany. His new book is entitled “Just one more episode! Television from A to Zapped”. In it he looks back on half a century of television history in a way that is as personal as it is comical.

By Alexander Neb

What childhood memories do you have when it comes to television?
My earliest memory is of sitting on the potty in my grandparents’ living room and running a multitasking business. Means: I watched the sandman and did my business at the same time. But to be honest, I don’t think my grandmother and grandfather really cared what was going on. That’s why “Bonanza” was there, I think. At the age of six I saw “Starship Enterprise” for the first time – and that completely beamed me away. That was simply groundbreaking and had a lasting fascination for me. To this day I’m a big fan.

Joint television sessions are celebrated with great devotion in the Mittermeier family, right?
Watching with my wife Gudrun and daughter Lilly is the greatest thing for me! This can degenerate into a family happening. For example, when we watch the new season of “Germany’s Next Top Model” together: There’s chatter, gossip, laughter and we have a great time. Lilly looks at the show completely through irony glasses, because actually she can’t do anything with this whole model topic and then comments accordingly funny and evil.

Book by Michael Mittermeier

Michael Mittermeier “Just one more episode! Television from A to Zapped”, 18€, published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch


In what ways are you strict as a dad?
Lilly is now 14 and can therefore already see a lot on television. But I’m not afraid that she will lose herself in the process or that things will overwhelm her. Lilly is strong and very mature for her age. We watched a series like “Squid Game” with her and then talked to her about the content.

So no bans or restrictions for the offspring?
Yes, we installed a lock in Lilly’s cell phone, which is why she can no longer surf from the evening until the next day. Since then she has been reading one book after the other.

Who were your childhood TV heroes?
For me, Pippi Longstocking and Michel from Lönneberga were by far the most influential characters. Pippi in particular was incredibly far ahead of her time: this irrepressible sense of freedom, self-confidence and this anarchic independence – wonderful! I liked this attitude to life and their motto: “I make the world how I like it”. I was already a dreamer as a child and in my head there were never really limits. I think I owe that to the early influence I was given by these characters.

In retrospect, however, Michel’s father’s upbringing methods are worthy of discussion…
Definitive! How often there was a beating in Lönneberga, old steward! In that regard, the stories haven’t exactly aged well. I take a particularly critical view of this, since I belong to the generation that had to experience flogging first hand.

From their parents?
No, it was mainly my former religion teacher – a chaplain – who kept hitting me really hard in the face. The hardest hitters were often the Catholics. I was in the monastery high school and therefore know exactly what I am talking about.

Didn’t you confide in anyone?
Yes, of course I went to my parents, complained and asked them to do something about it. But times were different, hitting children was still socially accepted and there was great respect for public officials.

How did you deal with the fact that father and mother did not help?
That made me very frustrated and sad, because I have a great sense of justice and can’t deal with injustice at all. I couldn’t understand why my parents didn’t stand up for me. But as I said, times were different back then and corporal punishment was completely normal. Unfortunately!

Luckily, times are changing – and the years are flying by. More than half of life is already behind you. What feelings go through your mind when you think about it?
I honestly don’t think about that fact that much. But of course I am also aware that my life is finite and can be over faster than I would like. Today, however, I take a more relaxed view of physical aging.

In what way?
When I was traveling around London or the US six years ago, I was still tinting my hair and on good days I looked like I was in my late 30s. But at some point I just didn’t feel like it anymore. It was too annoying for me to have to repeat it over and over again. Today I say: I am what I am – and the 56-year-old Michael has gray hair. Deal with it!

What is your perceived age?
In my head I’m still cheeky little Michel from Lönneberga, who experiences the most exciting things – and I don’t give up that easily. As for the physical: I can say that I am fitter today and can hop around easier than ten years ago.

Why is that so?
I suffered from severe back pain for a while. If you haven’t had to go through something like this yourself, you can’t even fathom what it really means. But today I’m fine.

What were the causes of the pain?
Without going into details: I’ve done a lot of rock ‘n’ roll in my life and in the past I’ve always let it rip properly. Yes, that was cool at times and I don’t regret anything either, but then my body got in touch.

How do you see your future as a comedian?
One thing is for sure: you won’t get rid of me anytime soon! After all, I decided some time ago that I would become the Johannes Heesters of the German comedy scene. I just can’t imagine not performing on stage one day. And if that’s only possible with a stick or lying down, then that’s the way it is.

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