Paco Erhard's show at the Comedy Festival is a genuine novelty.

Audiences here are used to all kinds of comedians - but especially those of British origin - mocking the Germans and their numerous peculiarities.

But Erhard is German, and on a mission to educate the rest the western world about the complex - and often hilarious - reality of being from Europe's biggest country with his show The five step guide to being German.

There is a rich reservoir of material to work with and the result is comedy gold.


Predictably, there are plenty of World War II references - which can be a sensitive subject - but Erhard's clever delivery takes the edge off any tension.

He ponders what Hitler might have been like if he was half Spanish, and his set piece about meeting some Jewish people in London is superb.

But his best material comes from observing German behavior when they travel abroad.

"We spend five months learning everything about that foreign culture before we go to a country," relates Erhard. "Then when we arrive we are a bit disappointed and walk around saying `Zis people don't appreciate ze culture zhey have'.

Erhard left Germany 16 years ago and has spent long periods of time in England, Spain and Italy, allowing him to draw on a rich tapestry of experiences and stereotypes.

"Germans are not rude... we are not direct," he says. "We just value honesty more than other people's feelings."

The monologue about a stressful experience in an English supermarket was clever as was the awkwardness of running into compatriots abroad, all engaged in a competition to see `who seems less German' while the routine about illogical behavior on the Autobahn (complete with prop) was a highlight.

Erhard has a ton of energy and engages with the crowd well, while sipping away on a bottle (or two) of Becks.

He also, after a short time in the country, has some witty observations about life in New Zealand.

A German comedian might be seen as an oxymoron but Erhard is a born performer and does it extremely well. His show might not make you German, but it will make you laugh.

Who: Paco Erhard
Where: Herald Theatre
When: Until May 13
How much: From $24